The Big Apple is morphing into a class-war amusement park for the very rich. Thus this irate argument for remaking it into a city for the rest of us.
Like climate change, writes pseudonymous New York Daily News editorialist and blogger Moss, hypergentrification is both a fact and a human-caused artifact and, therefore, can be halted. The hypergentrification of New York, in particular, “gentrification on speed, shot up with free-market capitalism,” is producing a safe, arid, sterile, uniform city, a place in which the old bohemian mecca has been overwhelmed by “luxury condo towers, rampant greed, and suburbanization.” If that seems a touch hyperbolic, then the author is happy to own up to the adjective, noting, derisively, that New York may not be altogether dead, if “dying” is a substitute word that will make his critics happier. Moss traces this process to the urban renewal programs of the New Deal, when tenements were scraped away in the apparent hope that poverty would disappear with them. Robert Moses “flattened neighborhoods where the vast majority of people were working class and nonwhite,” while Ed Koch ushered in the “me decade” of the 1980s, Rudy Giuliani swept the streets by force in the ’90s, and Michael Bloomberg oversaw the post–9/11 transformation of the city into the province of the very rich in a program that Moss calls “the apotheosis of neoliberal ideology.” Happily, the jargon mostly gives way to plainspoken language of anger at the disappearance of places like the old Times Square, where visitors are now “anesthetized in the greasy glow” of fast food and big-screen TVs. The sitting president figures in the tale, too, as a public-funds moocher of the first water. Moss closes with notes on remaking New York so that less moneyed, less well-connected residents enjoy the same “right to the city” as his greedy villains.
Maddening if you’re not mega-wealthy, and a vigorous, righteously indignant book that would do Jane Jacobs proud.