At Whose Expense?

With the publication of her novel, Jane Jacobs became the hero that fought against Robert Moses and his “destructive” urban renewal policies, emphasizing the importance of street life culture, close-knit communities, and decreased intervention of the state to allow for neighborhoods to be cared for solely by its residents. However, her ideas inadvertently inspired a different kind of extreme than Moses’s plan of eradicating the “slums”: neoliberalism (Tochterman 65). With its emphasis on free-market capitalism, neoliberalism was not built to help the people that were exploited by Robert Moses, but instead continued to cater to the upper and middle classes that could afford the means to becoming successful and producing wealth through opportunities that are unavailable to the lower and working classes. Overall, inequality is continuously reproduced at the expense of these classes in the ideal societies of both Robert Moses and neoliberal activists. Continue reading “At Whose Expense?”

Housing Discrimination by Race

New York City is one of the most racially segregated cities in the world. This didn’t occur naturally; this was the result of years of laws and real estate practices that allowed this to happen. Housing discrimination is still practiced in New York City and it continues to create divides in the city’s diversity. Specific real estate practices that contribute to this are assigning codes to neighborhoods based on desirability, redlining, and blockbusting. All of these practices essentially go the same way. The real estate broker will determine a person’s race. They use this information to decide which property to rent or not rent based on what will make the broker the most money.

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Can Bill de Blasio turn the public tide against homelessness?

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initiative Turning the Tide Against Homelessness calls for 90 homeless shelters designed to decrease the city’s reliance on renting hotel rooms for homeless people. Part of the initiative’s emphasis is keeping families’ social networks in place and therefore building shelters in all boroughs. Framed as an “overhaul of how and where the City shelters homeless New Yorkers” the plan emphasizes finding locations so shelter residents are closer to the social networks with the goal of giving “families and individuals continue to live near the neighborhoods they called home, in a clean and safe environment, while receiving the assistance they need to get back on their feet” (“Turning the Tide Against Homelessness,” 78). Moreover,  the plan also focuses on gaining the cooperation and input from residents and businesses in the neighborhoods proposed to receive a shelter.

And yet residents don’t seem so pleased at least in this video provided by NY1 of residents at on such community board meeting – click through to see the video and a very provocative comparison!

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NYC: A Means Of Distraction

Unlike Robert Moses and his followers who had multiple projects and saw the city only as an ‘end’, Jane Jacobs saw the city as a ‘means’ and all of the city’s assets holistically for its citizens. In her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs analyzes the faults of Moses’ planning and how it affected its citizens thereafter. A major factor of city life, Jacob explains, is the way people view it from the outside and also from within. The city brings forth a false sense of “togetherness” which can only be defied as unified behavior towards certain situations. In a suburban life as Jacobs mentions, people know each other and interact while in the city the “togetherness” reaches as far as the sidewalk for contact, reaching the bus stop, the laundromat, barbershops and corner stores.

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Redefining Our Urban Landscape

An influential writer and activist, Jane Jacobs viewed the world around her from a set of critical, yet visionary eyes. In The Death and Life of Great American Cities, she argues that recent and ongoing efforts to build up our cities have fallen significantly short of expectations. For the most part, a sense of negligence and ignorance has given rise to the problematic physical and social landscapes we see today. Jacobs specifically points to the fundamental cause of the common issues found in cities. She explains that urban planners, government officials, and other influential actors in the development process lack a general understanding of the intricate nature in which cities function. Oftentimes, issues are addressed from a backwards stance, and thus no real progress is made.

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