cover image Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul

Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul

Jeremiah Moss. Dey Street, $28.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-243969-7

In the spirit of Jane Jacobs, Moss, author of the blog Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, makes a passionate case against “the luxury vision of New York that characterized the Bloomberg years.” The “hyper-gentrification,” as Moss terms it, of the last decade plus has radically transformed New York City. The city is no longer “the unbridled engine of the nation’s progressive culture and creativity, sustaining a diversity of people.” Instead, Moss sees a soulless realm of “luxury condo towers, rampant greed, and suburbanization.” This argument is not a new one, but the book provides an accessible overview of recent efforts to make the Big Apple more appealing to the affluent. Moss is particularly attuned to gentrification’s effects on individual neighborhoods and merchants and argues that the changes are not merely the results of the free market but a deliberate class makeover of the city. He illustrates this point through the example of the 2008 rezoning of Harlem led by Bloomberg’s city-planning director Amanda Burden, who justified the plans to the New York Times with an anecdote about when she attended a concert at the Apollo Theater and couldn’t find a nearby restaurant that appealed to her. Moss also credits pedestrians’ addiction to screens as a factor in their indifference to the changing landscape. Whether or not readers share Moss’s heartfelt belief that New York City has lost its soul, this polemic is likely to stir a lot of emotions. [em](July) [/em]