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The Mechanics
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Urban Planning Mon Jun 06 2011

The Vanishing City

The Architect's Newspaper review The Vanishing City, a documentary about New York City and the hard drive of the Bloomberg administration to attract wealth and expunge itself of its working class:

We are reminded that Manhattan is becoming a gilded ghetto in a documentary that is not a lecture, but a cri de coeur from a chorus of critics, most of them telling you the bad news that you know already.

Readers of this newspaper may know the critics, too. Planner Tom Angotti, sociologist Saskia Sassen of Columbia, and Kent Barwick of the Municipal Art Society chart the process by which builders are rewarded for chillingly refined high-rises that rose before the Wall Street crash in what had been affordable neighborhoods for those of us who don't work for hedge funds. The policy forces the rest of us to pay high taxes to finance services and drives the workers needed to serve this economy out of town, or at least out of Manhattan. If you have an ordinary income, you lose. You lose even more if you have children. And it's all legal.

It's a grim reality, and it's the policy of the Bloomberg administration. One strength of The Vanishing City is that it takes Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at his word, and quotes him. Bloomberg announced to New Yorkers and to the world that New York was not akin to Walmart but a luxury product. In comments like that, Bloomberg wasn't just a snob with a tin ear. He was fueling the transformation of the urban landscape away from the mix of rich, poor, and everything in-between that gave New York its charm and vitality. Let's not forget that the city voted to re-elect him--twice.

The displacing of working class families from cities is not of course unique to New York. One of the problems for example with evaluating Mayor Daley's legacy is properly understanding how efforts to lure back "professionals" doesn't necessarily add to the city, but just pushes out poorer residents. So when we see median incomes rise or crime drop, it isn't because people are finding better work or the causes of crime are being ameliorated, but rather because low-income families are being pushed into inner-ring suburbs.

 
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Feature

Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...

Civics

Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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