Is the City Vanishing?

If change is a constant, then does the city have any real identity or soul? Or is change not constant? Is anything about the city permanent?

“The Vanishing City” is an upcoming documentary about New York’s real estate market leading up to the Great Recession of Our Time, which “exposes the real politic behind the alarming disappearance of New York’s beloved neighborhoods, the truth about its finance-dominated economy, and the myth of ‘inevitable change.'” It argues that the change over the last 30 years has not been natural but has been driven by policies favoring commercial and luxury development at the expense of affordable housing. In the process of driving out the middle and working classes, New York has lost some of the dynamism and grit that defined its identity.

“Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York” is a blog with much the same theme (it’s not clear if the blogger is involved in the film, although the film links to the blog). The writer worries that things ain’t what they used to be, that the city loses its character as the rents go higher, that art and love are trampled by the pursuit of money and things. This was where we read about Patti Smith’s comments about New York, that young artists should try Detroit instead… or Poughkeepsie.

I wonder if the city is vanishing, or if we are just allowing other people to determine what changes will happen. How can we empower ourselves to control the future of our city?

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