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November 8, 2010

Urban Renewal’s Human Costs

A history of postwar Manhattan developments shows the pitfalls of mass planning.

City Journal
by Anthony Paletta

An otherwise insightful review of a new book about New York City's post-war embrace of large-scale "urban renewal" projects jumps to one faulty conclusion about the present-day versions.

Fortunately, enthusiasm for such large-scale efforts eventually declined as urban renewal’s human costs became apparent—and very apparently a miserable symbol of democratic decision-making in the Cold War. Yet similar impulses endure. While it is harder today to remove residents, there seem to be few obstacles to forcing out local businesses—whether from the site of Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn or in the Bloomberg administration’s Willets Point redevelopment proposal. The lure of massive redesigns has diminished but not vanished.

As Daniel Goldstein will attest, and the court records will show, it ain't that hard at all to remove residents, either.


Posted by eric at November 8, 2010 10:29 AM