The Death and Gentrification of Great American Cities

Sharon Zukin's new book takes a different look at the urbanity championed in Jane Jacobs' seminal book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities", arguing that gentrification is tearing up the authenticity of places.
February 23, 2010, 9am PST | Nate Berg
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"But if Ms. Jacobs is much hailed as an urban prophet, Ms. Zukin is a heretic on her canonization. She views Ms. Jacobs as a passionate and prescient writer, but also one who failed to reckon with steroidal gentrification and the pervasive hunger of the upper middle class for ever more homogenous neighborhoods.

The pattern in places like Williamsburg and Atlantic Yards, Ms. Zukin said, is dreary and inexorable: Middle-class 'pioneers' buy brownstones and row houses. City officials rezone to allow luxury towers, which swell the value of the brownstones. And banks and real estate companies unleash a river of capital, flushing out the people who gave the neighborhoods character."

Zukin's book looks specifically at Greenwich Village, the neighborhood where Jacobs lived for many years and the idealized urban neighborhood her book encouraged.

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Published on Friday, February 19, 2010 in The New York Times
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