From Publishers Weekly
In a series of essays, each by a New Yorker taking on a specific locale or topic (Harlem, Orchard Street, "the City of Perpetual Arrival"), this book wrestles with the question posed in the subtitle, and what it means if the answer is yes. Unfortunately, the writing here is markedly uneven, plagued by an arch tone and too much generalization. Eric Darton's "News from Nowheresville," in which he discusses Robert Moses's Coliseum and the "vertical mall" that replaced it-the Time Warner Center-makes a telling example, rendered ineffective by glib overstatement ("Here real estate pornography has reached ... a kind of ultimate pitch"), charged language ("The evil of banality") and jokey speculation ("imagine what sort of havoc the pounding did to the kidneys of the machine operators"). Bright spots do shine through, including Suzanne Wasserman's quick-and-dirty history of the disappearing neighborhood fair and the rise of street fair corporations like Mardi Gras Productions. Marshall Berman's essay sketches an evocative portrait of Times Square over the past hundred-plus years, expertly combining personal experience, colorful detail and urban theory. More pieces as well-crafted as Berman's would have made this collection a worthy read; as is, readers curious about social changes in the city should look elsewhere (such as Berman's 2006 On the Town). b/w photos throughout.
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A confrontational collection of essays by scholars, writers and activists who ask whether the gentrification that has overtaken the city is a blight or a blessing. Some essays are coolheaded, some shake with hysteria, some are memoirish, others didactic. But all of them provide great fodder for argument if you're looking to inflame your next dinner party. -- New York Times, March 25, 2007
A confrontational collection of essays by scholars, writers and activists who ask whether the gentrification that has overtaken the city is a blight or a blessing. Some essays are coolheaded, some shake with hysteria, some are memoirish, others didactic. But all of them provide great fodder for argument if you're looking to inflame your next dinner party. -- The New York Times, Sunday, March 25, 2007
In The Suburbanization of New York
, fourteen writers consider the changing face of the city. . . . Nostalgia, however, is not the currency of this collection. Although the authors are hardly in agreement on the best way to reconcile the city's past with it's future, each makes a case for careful, conscious decision-making in urban planning. -- Metro New York, March 26, 2007
Is New York City becoming a massive, overpriced suburb-a sanitized urban Disneyland for tourists and the wealthy elite? Short answer: yes. At least that's the overwhelming impression one gets from the 14 essays collected here. Fortunately, the writers are interested in exploring the historical and political forces behind this transformation and not just complaining about how many Starbucks there are in the East Village (three, if you're wondering). Still, it's hard not to feel nostalgic for the gritty 1980s downtown Manhattan that Maggie Wrigley recalls in her introductory essay: "all color and personality, unpredictability, and yes, some peril." And now? "You cannot legally smoke in a bar." -- Metropolis, May 2007
Smart, fact-based essays that tackle a particular aspect of the city's transformation, such as the loss of industrial jobs. -- New York Observer, March 15, 2007