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Naked CityThe Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places$
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Sharon Zukin

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195382853

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195382853.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 August 2021

Union Square and the Paradox of Public Space

Union Square and the Paradox of Public Space

(p.125) 4 Union Square and the Paradox of Public Space
Naked City

Sharon Zukin

Oxford University Press

It’s a Saturday afternoon in mid-July and the city is swooning in 96-degree heat and fearsome humidity. You think it will be cooler out on the water than in the subway, so you line up at the Wall Street pier in Lower Manhattan to take the free water taxi across the East River to Red Hook, on the Brooklyn waterfront. The ride is sponsored by IKEA, the Swedish big-box chain that opened its first New York City outpost in Red Hook a few weeks earlier. Because the neighborhood is notoriously difficult to reach on public transportation and IKEA is hoping to lure shoppers whose apartments are starved for Scandinavian modern couches but who don’t own cars, the store has decided to sponsor water taxis from Manhattan. They have a system to discourage free riders from Brooklyn. You get your hand stamped before you walk onto the ferry so the taxi company’s employees, on IKEA’s instructions, can refuse to carry any passenger on the return trip who didn’t come to Brooklyn to make a purchase. Sitting on the top deck of the ferry, you’re caught up in an air of joyful anticipation. The small boat is full, with more than thirty passengers, some of them young children and their parents, all smiling and laughing from the unusual pleasure of being out on the water on a sunny afternoon, and from the pleasure of a shopping trip as well. The kids snap photos with cell phone cameras, everyone admires the Statue of Liberty on the other side of the harbor, and a few passengers point out the artificial waterfalls designed by the Scandinavian artist Olafur Eliasson that have been installed on the river for the summer as a public art project. Though the ride takes less than ten minutes, it’s the kind of entertainment New Yorkers love: a chance to act like tourists on the town.

Keywords:   Bushwick, Central Park, Ecuadorean immigrants, Flatbush, Globalization, IKEA, Latino immigrants, New York Times, Puerto Ricans, Sunset Park

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