Sunday, January 10, 2010

One view on "Naked City"

At the Post today, Julia Vitullo-Martin, director of the Center for Urban Innovation at the Regional Plan Association, takes a look at the new book by Sharon Zukin, "Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places."

Vitullo-Martin writes:

While Zukin expresses substantial ambivalence, she ultimately believes that authenticity is its own reward. Indeed, she goes so far as to propose that authenticity should be used to "ensure everyone a right to stay in the place where they live and work." But this would be disastrous in practice, resulting in rent rules and protections that would leave a grid-locked and static city.

Down that road lies what Justin Davidson pondered in New York magazine ... her the "dedicated yearners would roll back" the tide of affluence, preferring the "cracked-out squats" of the 1980s.

Put that way, I vote for today’s New York, even without the authenticity.


Eire said...

I haven't read the book, so I'm not sure how she defines "authenticity"--but it seems a particularly fraught term. Who decides what is authentic? Where does that "someone" freeze-frame the authentic city? "Authenticity" has the very dangerous potential of ignoring (even perpetualizing) very real class and racial inequalities in the name of one population segments' romanticizing values.
But perhaps the shifting ideas of "authentic" are part of her work...should take a look. Though I think sometimes we have a tendency to revert to the language of "authenticity" when talking about the EV, it seems the bigger concern is the relative balance of local/neighborhood vs city/corporation power in defining its spaces. This has always seemed to me a more productive way of "preserving" (with inevitable changes) the EV rather than appeals to some romanticized past.

Eire said...
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Jeremiah Moss said...

despite what the Post has to say, this book will go on my shopping list. nice find, EVG.