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Columnist: New York City Needs Economic Recovery Strategies Other Than Gentrification

It's a tale of two cities as New York starts to emerge from the pandemic.
June 10, 2021, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Pandemic Protest
Protestors gather outside New York City Hall on June 5, 2021.
Ron Adar

Ginia Bellafante writes that New York City is "newly awakened to pleasure." Outsiders might be surprise to see a city full so much evidence of that pleasure—"[from] biking everywhere, to dining sheds covered in peonies, to jazz bands turning up in Prospect Park on random weekdays, to Little Island and drinking orange wine at lunch.

Unfortunately, these scenes of joyful late-stage pandemic life are "hardly a reality for most New Yorkers," according to Bellafante. "To the contrary, a recent survey of 700 workers in Astoria, Queens, conducted by the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs, found that of the third laid off during the past year, only 38 percent have returned to work."

This discussion of the post-pandemic city is place in context of the city's upcoming mayoral election. The Democratic primary, expected to determine the eventual winner of the election, is scheduled for later this month. Bellafante's verdict about the next mayor's role in the post-pandemic city: the economic recovery will have to break from the mold of previous recoveries by investing in neighborhoods defined by extreme poverty.

"No one really knows what to do with a neighborhood that cannot gentrify its way to glory," writes Bellafante to conclude the column. "Brownsville isn’t struggling with the question of whether or not to keep outdoor dining sheds. It doesn’t have any."

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Published on Friday, June 4, 2021 in The New York Times
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