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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: 24 June 2021

The City That Lost Its Soul

The City That Lost Its Soul

(p.1) Introduction The City That Lost Its Soul
Naked City

Sharon Zukin

Oxford University Press

In the early years of the twenty-first century, New York City lost its soul. Some people doubt that the city ever had a soul, because New York has always grown by shedding its past, tearing down old neighborhoods and erecting new ones in their place, usually in a bare-faced struggle for financial gain. Others just shrug because, today, all big cities are erasing their gritty, bricks-and-mortar history to build a shiny vision of the future. Beijing, Shanghai, and other Chinese cities are clearing out the narrow, rundown alleys in their center, removing longtime residents to the distant edges of town, and replacing small, old houses with expensive apartments and new skyscrapers of spectacular design. Liverpool and Bilbao have torn down their abandoned waterfronts and turned aging docks and warehouses into modern art museums. In London, Paris, and New York artists and gentrifiers move into old immigrant areas, praising the working-class bars and take-out joints but overwhelming them with new cafés and boutiques, which are soon followed by brand-name chain stores. A universal rhetoric of upscale growth, based on both the economic power of capital and the state and the cultural power of the media and consumer tastes, is driving these changes and exposing a conflict between city dwellers’ desire for authentic origins—a traditional, mythical desire for roots—and their new beginnings: the continuous reinvention of communities. To speak of a city being authentic at all may seem absurd. Especially in a global capital like New York, neither people nor buildings have a chance to accumulate the patina of age. Most residents are not born there, neither do they live in the same house for generations, and the physical fabric of the city is constantly changing around them. In fact, all over the world, “Manhattanization” signifies everything in a city that is not thought to be authentic: high-rise buildings that grow taller every year, dense crowds where no one knows your name, high prices for inferior living conditions, and intense competition to be in style.

Keywords:   Atlantic Yards, Bensonhurst, Chicago, Elizabeth Street, Globalization, Hudson Street, Irish immigrants, Jews, Latino immigrants, McCarthyism

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