VANISHING NEW YORK

A new book takes us inside the “hyper-gentrification” of Manhattan. Author Jeremiah Moss is her to discuss “how a great city lost its soul”.

Aired on January 3, 2017.

TRANSCRIPT

> NEW YORK CITY IS KNOWN AS THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS.

A DYNAMIC METROPOLIS THAT WELCOMES CHANGE.

BUT ARE THERE CHANGES THAT COULD ROB THE CITY OF ITS VERY SOUL?

ACROSS THE CITY RISING RENTS IN RETAIL AND HOUSING MARKETS ARE DRIVING LONG-TIME NEW YORKERS OUT OF HOMES AND STORE FRONTS.

RESIDENTS OF ONCE AFFORDABLE APARTMENTS DISPLACED, KNOCKED DOWN OR REPLACED BY LUXURY APARTMENTS.

AROUND US, MOM AND POP SHOPS BECOMING A THING OF THE PAST, FADING INTO THE SHADOWS OF CORPORATE CHAINS.

TO MANY IT SEEMS LIKE THIS UNWELCOME TREND IS HERE TO STAY.

AUTHOR AND BLOGGER JEREMIAH MOSS HAS EXAMINED THESE CHANGES IN HIS NEW BOOK, 'VANISHING NEW YORK: HOW A GREAT CITY LOST ITS SOUL,'. HAPPY TO HAVE HIM WITH US.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN ABOUT THE SOUL OF NEW YORK?

I THINK ABOUT THE SOUL OF NEW YORK, IT DEVELOPED IN THE LATE 1800s, CONFLUENCE OF PEOPLE COMING TO THE CITY.

IMMIGRANTS FROM ITALY, SOUTHERN EUROPE, EASTERN EUROPEAN JEWS, AFRICAN-AMERICANS MIGRATING UP FROM THE VIOLENT SOUTH, BOHEMIANS COMING FROM ACROSS AMERICA, AND EARLY LGBTQ PEOPLE AS WELL.

AND THESE PEOPLE REALLY GOT TOGETHER AND CREATED WHAT I THINK OF AS THE SOUL, A PROGRESSIVE CITY, A DIVERSE CITY, NOT PERFECTLY PROGRESSIVE CITY BUT ONE THAT WAS DIFFERENT IN MANY WAYS FROM THE REST OF AMERICA.

SO THEN HOW DO YOU JUXTAPOSE THAT WITH PEOPLE WHO JUST SAY THAT PEOPLE LIKE YOU ARE LONGING FOR THE PAST AND NEED TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THE PROGRESS OF THE FUTURE.

I MEAN SOME OF THE OLDER BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES WEREN'T BUILT TO LAST FOREVER, THEY HAVE TO COME DOWN.

WHAT DO WE REPLACE THEM WITH?

RECREATIONS OF THE PAST OR MOVE FORWARD TO THE FUTURE?

ABSOLUTELY MOVE FORWARD.

CITY IS ALWAYS CHANGING AND NATURAL PROCESS.

BUT GONE BACKWARDS FROM PROGRESSIVE ERA TO THE GILDED AGE OF THE LATE 1800s, NEW GILDED AGE OF VAST INEQUALITY.

THAT'S BACKWARDS MOVEMENT, NOT FORWARDS.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE WHAT HAPPENS TO A COMMUNITY WHEN IT'S BEING GENTRIFIED?

THAT'S THE BUZZ WORD IN NEW YORK.

GENTRIFICATION, PEOPLE FOR, AGAINST, ET CETERA.

WHAT HAPPENS TO SOUL OF A COMMUNITY WHEN NEW DEVELOPERS COME IN?

COMMUNITY IS EMOTIONAL ECOSYSTEM.

WHEN THAT IS INFILTRATED AND DESTROYED PEOPLE FEEL UPROOTED, ALIENATED, PUSHED OUT.

LIKE THEY'RE BEING TOLD THEY NO LONGER BELONG.

WHEN EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS REMOVED FROM YOUR ENVIRONMENT OR MUCH OF IT AND REPLACED WITH THINGS THAT ARE FOR OTHER PEOPLE, PEOPLE WITH MORE POWER, SOCIOECONOMIC POWER, FEELING IS ALIENATION.

ROOT SHOCK, IDEA THAT WHEN PLANTS ARE RIPPED OUT FROM THE ROOTS, THERE'S SHOCK AND TRAUMA.

I THINK IT'S TRAUMATIZING.

NEW YORK FROM EARLY 19th CENTURY, ALWAYS EVOLVING ECOSYSTEM OF NEIGHBORHOODS.

SEEN NEIGHBORHOODS CHANGE COMMUNITY TO COMMUNITY, ETHNICITY TO ETHNICITY OVER THE DECADES.

WHAT MAKES THIS DIFFERENT?

WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT, LOWER EAST SIDE FOR EXAMPLE, CONSTANT CHANGE OF IMMIGRANT GROUPS, IRISH, ITALIANS, JEWS, CHINESE MOVING THROUGH.

DO BETTER, MOVE OUT, MAKE SPACE FOR ANOTHER GROUP TO COME ALONG.

THAT'S BEEN A KIND OF CONSTANT.

CHANGE WITHIN A CONSTANT.

KIND OF EQUILIBRIUM.

BUT MASSIVE CHANGE WHERE THAT CAN NO LONGER HAPPEN IN MUCH OF THE CITY.

AND THE MOVEMENT IS TOWARDS A MONOCULTURE OF LUXURY, OF HIGH-END DEVELOPMENT, AND IT'S REALLY WHAT'S BEEN CALLED A TOTAL CLASS REMAKE OF THE CITY.

WE'RE SEEING NEIGHBORHOODS THAT REALLY ARE FOR THE UPPER CLASS.

WHAT DO WE LOSE WITH THE LOSS NOT JUST OF PEOPLE BUT MOM AND POP STORES THAT SEEM TO BE SO FAMILIAR TO HARLEM AND LOWER EAST SIDE, ET CETERA.

LOSE LOCAL FLAVOR AND CHARACTER.

AND NEIGHBORHOODS ALL START TO LOOK LIKE EACH OTHER, ALL THE SAME CHAINS AND ARCHITECTURE ALL OVER AGAIN.

GLASS BOXES THAT WE SEE EVERYWHERE.

AND CITY STARTS TO LOOK LIKE EVERYWHERE ELSE.

THERE'S DISORIENTATION, WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE IN NEIGHBORHOOD WHERE THIS CHANGE IS HAPPEN, DISORIENTATION THAT HAPPENS.

I WALK INTO A NEIGHBORHOOD, WHERE AM I?

DISLOCATION SENSE.

AND IT'S VERY -- DOESN'T FEEL SO HUMANE ANYMORE.

IS THERE SOMETHING THAT RESIDENTS, PEOPLE WATCHING AT HOME, CAN DO TO SUPPORT SOME OF THE SMALL BUSINESSES THREATENED BY CHANGING ECONOMIC FORCES?

ABSOLUTELY.

THIS CHANGE HAPPENED BECAUSE OF POLICIES.

WE NEED NEW POLICIES TO REPAIR IT.

AND ONE OF THOSE POLICIES THAT I SUPPORT IS SMALL BUSINESS JOB SURVIVAL ACT.

WHICH THE MAJORITY OF THE CITY COUNCIL SUPPORTS, AND REALLY THEY NEED TO BRING IT TO A VOTE.

I THINK IT WOULD PASS PRETTY EASILY.

ONE THING PEOPLE CAN DO.

I HAVE A GROUP CALLED SAVE NYC, #SAVENYC.

WE HAVE LETTERS PREPARED TO MAYOR AND CITY SPEAKER, FILL IN AND PRESS SEND ASKING FOR THIS ACT TO BE PASSED.

ONE THING THAT PEOPLE CAN DO.

JEREMIAH MOSS, THANKS FOR JOINING US ON THE SHOW AND TALKING TO US ABOUT THIS RAPIDLY CHANGING CITY AND WHAT WE CAN DO TO PERHAPS MAKE IT MORE EQUITABLE.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

THANK YOU.

> BEFORE WE LET YOU GO TONIGHT, TELL YOU ABOUT A WONDERFUL EXTENSION TO 'METROFOCUS,' OUR NEW, TWICE WEEKLY PODCAST WITH ME AS YOUR HOST.

ON IT EXPLORE IN-DEPTH CONVERSATIONS A LITTLE LESS FILTERED THAN IN TELEVISION AND LOT MORE INTIMATE.

TALK TO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SET OF GUESTS WITH ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ATTITUDE.

PRICE OF JOINING THIS PODCAST COMPLETE WITH NEW YORKERS FROM THE STREETS TO CITY HALL AND WALL STREET TO BROADWAY?

ABSOLUTELY FREE.

HEAD TO ITUNES OR SOUND CLOUD TO JOIN ME AND ECLECTIC MIX OF PERSONALITIES AS WE EXPLORE OUR CITY WITH UNIQUE METROFOCUS.

I'LL SEE YOU THERE.

Announcer: FUNDING FOR THIS

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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