« Freakonomics Radio

How Does New York City Keep Reinventing Itself? (Bonus)

2021-03-21 | 🔗

In a word: networks. Once it embraced information as its main currency, New York was able to climb out of a deep fiscal (and psychic) pit. Will that magic trick still work after Covid? In this installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, guest host Kurt Andersen interviews Thomas Dyja, author of New York, New York, New York: Four Decades of Success, Excess and Transformation.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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It's hard to find a first. I just have one that I couldn't even speak. The atlas obscure applied, cast an audio tour of the world's hidden wonders here. Flower forever it's about people places and their stories, a new wonder every day. It's wonderful to see in that connection? The ouse, obscure podcast is out now with four new episodes. Are we listened in stature apple, the serious ex em out or wherever you get your past for every person wrong?
we conducted a violent criminal goes free, wrongful conviction. Pine gas is a platform for both the innocent people of spent decades behind bars and those who have championed their causes here. They're shocking stories learn about the tools of the state that forged the cracks in our system. Raffle conviction package has a mission to inspire, educate our nationwide jury pool to help create a more just future. Joint effort today bite us wherever he listened to focus either? Stephen dublin- and this is a special bonus episode of the freedoms, video book club in case you are not familiar with the format. It works like this one select the very good book we interviewed the author at length and rather than force the author to provide us slapdash summary the book we have spent years rating, we
Have them read actual excerpts hand chosen for maximum effect? This episode features to people. I happened to be exceedingly fond of, and I'm guessing you will be as well conducting the interview is Kerr Anderson, the author of several very good books. self, most recently, evil genius, the unmaking of America, a recent history. He also created and hosted the public radio show studio three sixty and before that he cofounded an edited spy magazine of satirical Journalism that took aim at various blow hards scoundrels and terrible ideas. He also happens to have lived in New York City for the past few decades, and the past few decades of New York City is the very topic of the book will be hearing about today. The author is Thomas died in the book is called New York New York New York for decades of
success, excess and transformation. If you care even a little bit about New York City, possibly even if you dump this book, will enlighten and quite possibly thrill you, here's Kurt Anders You know what more growling is in early America, a guy, Clearing land cutting down trees would get his neighbour They help him role the logs away into a pile and then some time later the favour would be return soon. It became an all purpose idiom for trading favours. So when I was one of the editors of spy, we had a monthly column called log roaming. In our time where we track authors, who had given blurbs praising each other's new books and kids, this was way back before the internet, so it meant searching through physical bookstore, Shell
four hours practically as hard as clearing timber anyhow. I am here by a long roller in my time, because I blurb the excellent book we're about to discuss a book. I'm also repeatedly quoted in, and I'm good pals with its author might aims Thomas Dodger, but I can tell you tat: absolutely: it gets even more sorted Tom. the wife. So then, what is my agent and Stephen donors agent to and Stephen Governor weren't? For me when I ran New York magazine, so you don't need a court bored with posted in red string and thumbtack to see that it goes all the way to the top here at the free economic radio book club. But actually this appearance of a conflict of interests makes perfect thematic sense, because today we are talking about a sin
made up of networks where money, friendship, politics and ardor all mush together in tiny apartments that cost as much as big houses anywhere else New York, New York, New York for decades of success, access and transformation. Is it your typical biography of a city. Tom leads us from the rough, tough nineteen. Seventy is through the rise of yuppies in Europe, a fine glamorized outer boroughs, the birth of hip, hop and Bloomberg terminals and the inner, additional super luxury Manhattan of today and as we were
under those years in the city. He manages to keep us from getting lost or ripped off. Tom Digest worked for decades and book publishing and, as an author he's written big books like this one before this most recent, the third coast was about Chicago his home town. He has also publish three novels: and a biography of the complicated civil rights figure. Walter White, whom you can no longer really google because of breaking bath. But, even though I was a fan of Tom's riding before we, really friends and I spent decades he covers in New York City. I found myself constantly surprised reading this book. In addition to all kinds of juicy details, come provides, a schema for how to understand the city's evolution or devolution. Depending on your point of view, here's an action, New York's passage through Renaissance Rep,
formation and re imagination was really a shift from romance society to networks. Until the seventies political scientists describe New York is a game played by all its interests with City Hall is the referee, but his information took over from industry. The collective world of Unions Borough machines, the archdiocese than even the mob gradually gave way to one of individuals who define themselves primarily by the networks. They belong to the game Board, aim, but I imagine, is a galaxy of eight and a half million lives connected to each other and ways beyond counting those with the most connections and therefore, the most access to favours advice, job tips and string, pulling shown the bright, and the reconnection in reorganization of New Yorkers sent new tastes, ideas, resources and behaviors coursing through every burrow.
unleashing financial, human and social capital. Like a giant brain the more connections, the more synapses firing, the higher functioning New York became an so here's. My conversations with Thomas Deja, whom I expect to blur my next book very, very efficiently. This is free radio, the radio broadcasts but explores the hidden side of everything. With today's guesthouse heard Anderson New York, New York New York covers the terms of five New York City mayors, college David Dickens, Rudy, Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, and the current one filled the plaza, but in chronically
the huge changes over those decades. It focuses at least as much on them Lesser known, men and women who work to shape the city at least their parts of it to their respective visions. Your title is taken from something that a man Holly White wrote, exposing Holly White was and what he meant by this Holly White Road. Book called the organization man, which was when the first sociological looks at the impact of corporate life in suburban life on a map the can people. He was one of the leading edge of a counter movement which I would call back to the city which took place through the fifties and Sixtys. What he loved about cities was. Their purpose was to we help people exchange in the solution to fixing the falling apart. New York of the seventies was to help people come back to the city
He was once asked what are your three favorite american cities? Then he said New York, New York, New York, a favorite passage of mine, was one that he be white, wrote ninety four nine and Your title reminded me of it. He said there are three remarks. The people born here that the commuters and something like the New York of people who were born elsewhere and come to the organ quest, but something who really give it passion this book is about how a city changes and there really are three evolutions of New York over this period. There is the Cot Jenkins period, a kind of renaissance and then slipped back down, there's their Juliet The area of Reformation and there's the Bloomberg era of re imagining what the city can be, and there really are three distinct, discreet cities they each chain
agents and profound ways that you'd still recognised the place, but another ways you don't and so New York New York. There was also an echo that kind of evolution like other cities the new year governments, soul, municipal bonds, to investors, to keep itself afloat, but by nineteen, five! It was to brook to redeem them, thus began the fiscal crisis, President Gerald Ford famously refuse to give federal help they govern for the time you carry establish something called the emergency Financial Control Board, which was led by business. Man business, savvy officials and in exchange for baling the government financially, they began to dictate how City Hall spend its money, but one thing the public and private sector seem to having common back. Then they were both pretty shockingly disorganized. The sick
He had lost control in the seventies, not just because of debt, but because it couldn't effectively manage its information. Its budget was said: one expert completely unalterable, which was the other reason. The bank's kept the city out of the credit market before New York could borrow again and had to catch up corporate Amerika headed bone tat problems though, and for the big banks. The issue was the same as the cities. the sheer magnitude of data they produced outstripped their ability to handle it at Walter Ariston zone. Citibank, the back offices were so awash, they nearly lost. Gps is a client when they couldn't produce monthly statement Chase hadn't even worse, David Rockefeller confessed that its poor performance in the MID Seventys was the result of an almost total collapse of our operations manage It systems, after ignoring warnings from the head of IBM, Rockefeller blamed the city's inefficiency
The great society, while his own bank fumbled with a back office system, one executive, called garbage in garbage out in a backlog of garbage, going to talk about these two key me one is very: seventy five dino present afford to New York City dropped at the places in virtual municipal bankruptcy, seven years later. A bull market on Wall Street it starts. And moreover, this incredible booming of finance taking over so much the economy which whether hated did benefit the city of New York. Without a doubt, the person who is cut up the biggest player at those Walter Ariston, David Rockefeller, was head of chase and risk was head of Citibank by this point, Citibank had begun to
place tellers would Citicorp machines and there was a terrible blizzard in late January, the early February. Seventy eight when the city shuts down and the banks, clothes and people are just stuck, and suddenly people at city cards for, like I can just go in and get money out. Oh, this is pretty create an immediately after that. Citibank gains a huge amount of clients, but also computers and bank cards become pretty standard. It's one of them first times that people really have anything to do with a computer, let alone trusting the computer with their money. The Christians idea of money as information that sense of money flowing through everything comes from him and the economy through those early years is just wild right. We're still getting over the oil crisis and interest rates was almost impossible to buy a new home. Getting credit was impossible, but what that did for New York?
was suddenly interest rates were flying up and down in yellowing. You could start to speculate on them again, and so you got into the beginning of this crazy bond market in introduce the idea of a speculative Wall Street and stock market equities in itself was his sleepy place. Risks were not taken exactly it was where your old uncle IRA had five thousand shares of IBM or whatever, and the market just explodes and never turns back. The money flies in and it becomes the wild west. On may nineteenth. Nineteen eighty three William Simons company Wes RE, took Gibson greeting cards public they bought it, for Eighty million seventy nine million of which they borrowed against its inflated assets. Eighteen months later, Gibson ended its first day of trading were
two hundred and ninety million dollars and Simons personal stake of three hundred and thirty thousand had sprouted like magic beans into sixty six million, a return of twenty thousand percent. It was that easy as spectacular and unreal is Reagan, STAR wars, defence plan to shoot down soviet missiles from spaceships, so would begin this cartoon age of garish society and paper profits of calling catch up, A vegetable wondering Tom does especially well in this book is show how the city, not just the government, but people and neighbourhoods in institutions and their best achieve a delicate goldilocks balance of order and disorder, especially when it comes to public space during a cautious three terms. As mayor from my kids
only eight. Ninety, ninety new Yorkers change, the way they thought of unused public space, but it didn't just happen on its own. That is where Holly White comes at an that's where Gordon Davis comes in. He was parts commission under catch and catch had gone through a couple dozen people who all turned down the parks job, because the parks in New York and nineteen seventy eight work just utterly terrible. Everyone told Gordon Dave do not take the job we went up to a park in inward northern Manhattan and the garbage pails are all fall in his papers flying around and there are these park employees just sitting there and ass this price of what is going on you're nobody's doing anything of the kind of shrugged you said. Well, you know we got this fiscal crisis and nobody can do anything, and this was a citori moment for Gordon Davis, who said people need to create a different attitude towards living in public space and participating in it. If you remember, this is also the time of dog food,
You didn't have to pick it up. There was a huge wave when New York was incredibly dangerous, where people went and this kind of crazy urge to get dogs, and so the dog population, New York, really sky, rocket it, and there was no law against just leaving on street to everyone did in stepping in dog. Poop was just a part of life. There's this ongoing battle in the late seventies, about trying to pass laws to pick up dog poop and the Aspca and other dog owner organizations were really against the dog poop law because they said they're going to kill their dogs they're, going to let them free in the streets rather than pick up dog poop as someone compared it to things that the Nazis did to the Jews by making the pick up poop. So finally, Franz like there was a state senator from New York City whose mother had actually died in the Holocaust
to buy. Think took that rather personally pushed through the proper scooper law. It was the first questioning of public space is the place where you can do anything. You want verses public spaces, a place where we all participate together. Gordon David was very much a. How do we create public space that people share with other people? He was also involved in a couple path. Finding ways towards things I private, his mission. The central park zoo, is a total mess. There was one seal floating around the park couldn't get another one because it was on accredited at this point that the animals were sick. It was like a jail for animals and he worked on a deal with New York Zoological society to get some outside investment and create a different kind of governing body for the zoo, which ended up being part of the template for the a reorganization of Brian Park and the idea of creating a business investment district,
where the businesses around with kickin money towards the rehabilitation bright part. It is one of those miraculous before and after stories, it was needle part and it wasn't saved. Just like Central Park wasn't redeem and restored just by sending a calf get rid of the bad guys they try. That in it never worked. There was finally this moment. Polly White brought in a guy named Dan Biederman, who got involved with Brian Park and threw himself into it with a kind of obsession. then Biederman was obsessed with making Brian Park work. He grabbed the business investment district idea in ran with that and so Davis handed over that idea Brian Park to him a lot of people in this book make things happen because they are obsessed times, go
to understand and convey who these obsessive were and how they transformed the city during the four decades the book covers. He tries to get past the simple binaries and buzzwords these shifts from industry information from greedy and dangerous to exorbitant, then at least in Manhattan a little bit soulless. They weren't just go or bad. In so many cases. They were both as in the original pale two cities New York, these last forty years were the best of times and worst of times, an age of wisdom and foolishness. Everything before us and nothing before us. A snap judgment or hot take really won't do. Everyone had their opinions about what had happened. Some sort only villains victims, use terms like NEO liberalism, quality of life, broken windows and gentrification.
And with little sense of their original meanings, context or applications. Others told rose, colored stories about Giuliani, cops, cleaning up died Bloomberg, enlightened rain, ignoring the profound damage done to the city and its people, either way for complex decades were reduced to morality. Play I wanted to get down to the actual ideas, policies and technologies behind it all. What was the process? Who were the people? so you'll hear at eighteen to go to college and never left you're, one of everyone's third, a kind of new Yorker from Chicago from the North West side, factory kind of working class neighbourhood, but I got into Columbia boys, one thousand nine hundred and eighty Morningside Heights was not a place where you wanted to ship your kid off to so. Let's just say, the admissions rate was shockingly high. you had better. Do you work for more than thirty years? When you started writing this book, did you feel
without you New York. Well enough- and now I could write this epic encyclopaedic history of the last forty years on it for the first few decades. As I now speak in decades in my life, I think I still identified as one of those third group Phoebe White. I still warm Cubs hat when it help that I married someone who was a native New Yorker that kind of brick Is you enter the networks of the city in a much deeper way, but cycle Logically and emotionally, I hadn't really on the place yet, and after nine eleven, my son was six or seven, and a couple of tickets fell in our lab to gain three of the World Series and was. This is overwhelming experience with the jets flying over and people being wandered going in and this weird tension. So after the game they Yankees one and marking out and they place. Frank Sinatra, singing New York, New York and this sixty thousand people singing
opposite lungs and agencies like weeping noticing art I live here. I am a part of this place. anyhow to get back to the late night in subsidies, where Tom begins his book. Gordon Davis is cleaning up the parks and lots of red our citizens, have read and become disciples of the Greenwich village, writer and urbanists, Jane Jacobs, Holly Whitehead under speak at Harvard and ask her to write a piece for fortune magazine which led to her nineteen sixty one book, the death in life of american Citys. It was a profound and persuasive rebuttal of the the entire urban urban renewal paradox, which Robert Moses was executing with express ways and other car centric new infrastructure, the power broker by Robert Carroll. The book you see,
on a bookshelf behind every single cable news, Zoom interviewee, that is, the story of Robert Moses for decades. If he wanted something built, it got bill and some of it was good but in the nineteen sixty is for the first time there was serious pushed back, especially his project hare Brained lower Manhattan, expressway, nickname low max, which would have written fired, demolishing almost half of what was just starting to be called Soho. So how was this desolate area? There? Were factories in warehouses still some that we're functional many that were just empty and the owners of these places were waiting for low makes to happen. They are just waiting for their eminent domain check, and so, when artists began coming in, they were fine night. Ok, fine squad. Here it was extra money for them,
Rarely do exactly the idea was for that to be temporarily, and so once low makes was defeated, so Haute suddenly had an identity and there was a permanent nodded the place and it became the art district of New York in a way that none had been before, but at the same time, but taste for a certain kind of living then, and it's not long before those lofts are being sold and the artists are being pushed out and is the beginning of that very familiar site. of art is gender fire wealth in New York does trickled down, but not in a rational even a shower of large ass. It travels through networks of who you know who's your hair, dresser you're, wallpaper guy, your dermatologist, while leaving out those who aren't in networks New York city was already a media capital, but you talk about networks, in the seventies and eighties. How that change happen. That idea informed everything from
crime to the art world to AIDS, which is really a crisis of networks. One of the things that changes is this wave of largely white people a middle class who are educated, come work in these businesses. There called then yuppies, and they were the most incredibly network generation to ever hit a place. Similar schools, similar taste, similar everything else the kinds of tastes and desires that flow through that become generalised for the country and the big one is money. It's actually noted by Felix row. It know is one of the important figures in before,
financial crisis in the seventies, he wrote it in the mid eighties that the city is now made business. Its interest business was part of what happened in New York, but it was not the thing that happened in New York and that is a cultural switch that happens not just because there are these Wall Street firms that are making it happen, but because new Yorkers of a certain kind came and help those tastes inform everything about what they did in a meritocracy. Your class is something active, made of your networks in your primacy in them, where you worked mattered more than what you did where you went to school mattered more than what you learned, because those places created ties, the density of young, largely white professionals pouring into New York, men, all kinds of new weak ties connecting friends to free.
The friends, but twenty six year old lawyer on the Upper EAST side could have literally thousands more connections than someone their age in the Bronx in through those connections, came useful information, job tips, stock tips, heads up on an apartment, acute guy, you're, sorority sister, could fix you up with altogether a mountain of social capital that made them an immense force. The problem was the only like to share with each other, having been a cordon quote yuppie. At that time I hadn't thought of the larger context in which we talk about that take over essentially of New York for better or worse by the early eighties. Before the markets take off. There is a real sense of disillusionment, which was of losing the Vietnam WAR and Watergate and oil crisis, and in the economy being down the toilet, stagflation thee.
there was a sense of baby boomers being this first generation that was not going to do better than their parents. Its remarkable to think now. Poor baby boomers responsible for every horrible thing that ever happened in only cared about money, part of what lead, that wave of yuppies coming in was a sense of oh, my god, here's my chance to make money. There was a kind of everyone's swimming to the last lifeboat and it turned out to not be the last lifeboat. It turned out to be the future of everything the bowl got. batter for one thousand nine hundred and eighty four to nineteen? Eighty seven leveraged buyouts and other buybacks took more than two hundred and fifty billion worth of stock out of the market driving demand up further for what remains between July nineteen, eighty two in July nineteen, eighty six, the DOW had doubled, Harpers, editor Louis lap and called money. The sickness of the town, even in the parochial personal sense of you in publishing, mean magazines. It was around then
as though a switch flipped, suddenly news divisions and terrorist networks couldn't just get by breaking, even then to make as much money as any other part of the entertainment industry. While the word is blockbuster right before a certain point, there had been this great ecosystem of of small publishers and large publishers happily swimming along together through the literary world of New York in the early seventies. There is a sense that computers are going to be the big thing and a lot of big conglomerates start to buy up publishers on the idea that they are we need them for content, and so you have a lot of big conglomerates that own publishing houses, which used to be privately owned and when
They wanted to buy a big book. They would literally have to go to the bank and take out alone to pay for this big advance. So it was a kind of self regulating business. But now, when your own by golf or some other huge conglomerate, the publisher just had to say: can we get this money and they hire ups might say: yeah, ok, here's the money, but in return they had to deliver, and this business starts to switch bookstores start to computerized in the museum world by the late seventys. The idea of a blockbuster show King Tut things like that, become really what drives museum culture in New York. More people are going to museums, more people were buying books and there is a public good to that.
It created a cycle that was much more financial and commercial. You had this miracle, which is the reduction in murder and other minor crime in New York City by eighty plus per cent in twenty years right, whether were a whole series of reasons why this fever breaks everything from the people who were committing. The crimes were also overwhelmingly the people who were suffering by them and so the more kept happening, the more that generation of largely sadly, young men of color, was destroyed. Aids came along plus crack the networks of crime changed in the idea of crack being something you used into something that you sold changed and the circumstances were there for policing to be effective and they double down, but it seems when stoppin frisk was ended, that it could have been stopped a long time ago. We wouldn't have had another big up.
The vision was that this was a kind of chemotherapy. You broke the back of it and then you moved back towards a community police. Sing? Paradigm is opposed to the constant profiling crack is a business man, drugs, Keith, Harry and New York was a business Man City, bent down immediate gratification, where stock analyse tongue on quarterly reports and yuppies indulged, tightening cycles of desire with Sony devices, luck, crusade, pots and MAC computers that were obsolete after eighteen months, The friends you too have now, and they have again with the nature of all modern life, is the price of cocaine dropped from fifty thousand dollars a kilo. Nineteen. Eighty two thirty five thousand one thousand nine hundred and eighty four on its way down to twelve thousand crack presented itself as a chance to escape for a few minutes to make a few bucks, or maybe a fortune which was, after all or patriot,
duty. Interesting binary. Non binary thing was graffiti. It was a classic image of the breakdown in order yet at the same time giving the artist we're being discovered as fine artists, a thin putting galleries. I feel like it's a dream that there were keys, herring drawings innovations and on subway cars that I wrote, and I remember as he was just getting big and famous, I think. Well, I could just hear that thing down and have a piece of Keith Hefner. Why didn't you? Do it I don't know I'm a I'm a good as you're from Nebraska, and that just seems to go against everything you stand for it, but it's one of the reasons why I stopped doing it was that people really were just taking them in that way.
You big winners, stylized graffiti a course arose simultaneously with hip, hop and hip hop for my money was the last genuinely new creation of american pop culture. I think it's New York's most important cultural contribution of the last half century. It is a global phenomenon and it started fundamentally from a wreck room in the lower Bronx and that moment, with the Times Square, show in nineteen eighty, when you have the Bronx people cut, down in meeting EAST village people and for the first moment those Afro atlantic arts that have defined what cool is in New York, are suddenly recognised and given a place in the front. You have a phrase: the war whole economy, Dartmouth, where it and Elizabeth Kurd came up with that. It describes the cultural economy that comes out through
the eightys as the kind of keys Herring Basquiat Madonna World, begins to detach itself from downtown at and become a much more commercialized mass market thing it served seasonality really well when seasonality with something that fashioned Bristow. Based on that, it was good for Maggie, genes because it was constantly refreshing, here's what school now and they created a cultural fountain. Many people drew from that. for a long time. Speaking of anyone who is not by hero. Well, yes, not your Europe and he was in a pity me of a certain kind of cool in this basin. One meal. I have them prick, but deeply cynical God. Yet was We usually credibly influential. You can draw the line from any Warhol to these hideous hundred, whatever story towers, full of super rich semi residents along the southern edge, a central park
his own way. He loved those people and lived off those people and laughed at those people. The same time, which was its own kind of cynical deal, but I think more horrified to me was the impact that he had on media and that whole fifteen minutes of fame idea and introduced a kind of cynicism. I'm very catholic with a small see about what I consider art, but I do think it needs to have a certain integrity and I feel that in many cases he introduced lack of integrity to art Warhol. More holistic at this period gave a car and if she, in a ratification to caring about nothing but money. In fact, when we talk about selfies Instagram and influences if there's another big bang, moment forward other than war hell, I don't know they sure seems like it starts there. There were plenty of rich people in New York in the old days, but this new class, this almost four
kind of New Yorker in Penny Belides scheme of people who barely live here. This is one of their homes in five or ten that it one of the new things of the last few decades that I just like. There's nothing going about this. I can find nothing good about that either we ve done very well in not mentioning or former president. But that is something that he had a role in helping to create a world of condos. Part of the thing was to bring in this kind of international jet said who largely not be able to get into Co. Ops like the seven hundred and forty parts of the world that were not interested in celebrities. They just wanted old wealth and social prestige, and bringing in Bianca Jagger and whoever else these were not people that they wanted, and so Trump early on. One of his bases was to build luxury condos for these kinds of people who wanted to We have on New York, but to really not ever have anything to do with it
the city of our memories. That's thrilling! Cesspool were anything could happen sight of secret rituals, officiated by saunter reappraised home of dowagers on Beekman Place refuge from everything straightened common. That city seemed to have slipped under a sea of old. The rich were no longer rich. They were imperial changed where's, devoured, mom and pop ups camp had been domesticated rage. Sex in high art defamed rents, out of reach the Nypd an army depending on your mood, your age, your bank account New York without horrifying, more wonderful and even that change day to day moment to moment we dance
around it, but after the brig wanted a dive into one of the big hot button issues in the past for decades in New York City gentrification, the folks who were there are happy to have better services, but there are also sort of pissed about it because they could have had them anyway and what the city ought to focus on as it tries to recover from the pandemic. This is a moment for big ideas. It's time to take some risks more Tom Digest Tom Dodger Tom Dodger. After this There are wonders on this planet around every corner. Sometimes the written funny you hidden in plain sight, come with us for
hence in ocean foggy spake, it's hard to find the first time. There is no sign here. Flowers, bloom, forever, changes the way it's not just about the incredible places will visit it's about the people in their stories. It's wonderful to feel that call action in the whole area came to life, a federal and finally Amazon and says Gimme. Every monkey you ve got four episodes weak each under fifteen minutes, a new wonder. Every day the House of Europe. gas is out now listen in stature apple, the serious ex em up or wherever you get your pike. Ass funds may not human in a way.
I'm crude anderson- and this is the free economic radio book Club today, I'm talking with Thomas Digest about his about New York, New York, New York for decades of success, access and transformation. This book scrupulously avoids simplistic, good, bad when it comes to the cities, urban policies, one binary conventional wisdom is that Robert Moses was bad and Jane Jacobs was good more true than not, but not the whole truth. Scholar and start to say that everything that brother
most did was bad the racism and anti urbanism that underlined a lot of what he did in basically creating ways to help whites leave the city creating segregation de facto through the built environment of New York. There are other ways in which he did some really fabulous, fascinating, an important things and now we're seeing ultimately a push back against that kind of Jacobs, vision of the city against over preservation. That's right, Jane, Jacobs, what preserve good old buildings and established organic neighborhoods, rather than tearing them all down to build new everything she fought for parks and other pedestrian space over expression. but her vision is also for better and worse. What brought us gentrification. The West village is beautiful, but try buying a place to live there in eighteen, eighty, nine price dollar Manhattan. My wife and I an hour to babies, move to Brooklyn and accidentally help make our cheap
school neighbourhood unaffordable for other people. this suddenly regenerating upper West side according to New York magazine without doubt, one of the most striking examples of urban Revitalization, and recent memory vindicated Jane Jacobs, at least as much as anything about the West Village, rather than government plans, but few smaller directed changes have let the market do the work. If so, how was an act of replacing the city's industrial history? The upper West side offered a return to upper middle class dumbest. the city, where the diversity not found on the east side. The problems that arose over the next fifteen years spoke directly to some drawbacks and Jacobs. Thinking. The new building in conversions meant displacement. Brownstones went for multi unit departments in a single family homes, s arose, went co op in some
early J fifty one buildings aged out of their abatements, allowing the landlords to Jakob rents, a culture clash became palpable in schools and playgrounds in the buildings, filling up with proof. Nationals rather than restoring networks or adding new connections, lifestyle use, Lee superimposed, new networks onto the old neighborhood, fresh, yuppie arrivals wanted things the way they wanted them. So positive involvement in parks and public schools often became apples for control in a neighborhood that already had a powerful tradition of activism. On the other hand, sincere attempts by newcomers to enter existing networks were often rebuffed with locals, pulling into their own tighter self, defeating ones.
To me, maybe the great example of theirs goods things about an end. There is bad things about. It is what we call gentrification talk to me about that, because it continued crime reduction as part of its a virtuous cycle or crime took off again in the later Catch Jenkins years. It doesn't stop the next wave of crime from happening, but it does bring benefits in that part of the
did the anger of it. The sense is that the only reason why a place is better police than the service is magically get better is because now there's white people there are grocery stores. Does it kind of sad resignation that the folks are happy to have better services but they're also sort of pissed because they could have had them anyway? We do have to be realistic about the fact that neighborhoods change that people move, it's natural, that you have waves of people coming and going what's unnatural about gentrification, is that the price structure freezes people in place if your son leaves his ability to find apartment? That is what your rent controlled apartment is. This is nearly impossible, so it breaks up those now
we're hoods not is by aggressiveness as much as by the melting away in the face of the money that comes in and ninety. Ninety nine rents were up fifty to sixty percent over the last five years, while owners double their money into you must hand to buy. Now. If you wanted to stay in the city, one sensitive broker worried that the normal people, making half a million dollars a year. They won't be able to afford to live here and put two kids in private school networks of wealth and social capital bound more tightly than ever. Cops exacted owner is financial requirements. Three slash five. Even ten time
The purchase price held it assets in years of maintenance and s grown no longer uncommon in one's shaggy places like the upper West side in the EAST village, community was defined in terms of property value in community boards and block associations, fought homeless, shelters and zoning changes. Broken was no longer just attractive. It was a necessity. Rents has tripled in five years and Williamsburg establish turf like park. Slope was up. Almost twenty percent and New York magazine compared Carol, gardens quote funky bustle to the west village in the sixties, New York City is supposed to be the passion of liberalism, America, but it looked at the mayors in the period covered in this book. You have the servant of democratic garage. You have a republic of Julia You have, I remembered, an independent Bloomberg everybody, but David Jenkins Catch Julia, Honey and Bloomberg were all people who had been indifferent parties but Giuliani. It worked for
Kennedy Ass, a boy who had started as a Democrat and went increasingly right, as it was more opportune for him, but as he first ran, he ran as this kind of fusion public in there was a window for that kind of republicanism again, and it was not possible in New York for these people of a certain age to remember that nothing, Rockerfeller literally came up at ways to almost print money for the state in a way that a republican today, their heads would explode Tom Right about nine eleven. Many would say afterwards that this was the day that New York lost its innocence. In fact, It was the day the city were gained, at least for a while he's right, firefighters and cops rushed to the scene and everyone on sidewalks and on subways looked at each other differently more as fellow citizens.
Rudy Julie armies were headed, sympathetic response, yes, that Rudy Giuliani made him widely admired and then on the first day of two thousand to Michael, number, a man who become a billion a year on information and the Wall Street Boom began his three terms as me. re imagining the city as more sense more efficient and more than ever as a kind of global hub of the upscale. the synthesis of style, art money in politics that legendary Vo get it or Dionne of real and aspired to and fully coalesced under Bloomberg men, and was no longer more like the rest of Amerika. It had fulfilled New York magazines, nineteen eighty prophecy and become Shanghai and nineteen. Thirty seven in international settlement in Paradise for the wealthy we imagined New York was delivering on its promise of an enlightened lifestyle, its resin,
we're letting nine months longer than the average American. Some of that came from the crime drop they're going to gain of six point two years since one thousand nine hundred and ninety, but in general everyone's blood pressure and dropped. Smoking was falling twice as fast as it was in the rest of the country, and now the Board of Health required calorie listings in restaurants, card selling fresh produce were placed in low income areas, New Yorkers walked more and walk faster, and there is even evidence it simply. Living in New York City was healthy. Is New York magazine reported on the social and economic density that has life giving properties networks right now? We're only good density, creates networks and belonging to networks correlates with better health and a longer life, those who weren't network, the homeless, the elderly, single mothers and unskilled immigrants, slipped increasingly out of sight in the punchline,
after these were democratic Republicans, fusion, centrist, whatever's. Thirty years. You had the Basel who ran as MR left. Finally, I remember having arguments with Aubrey side, friends of mine now he'll be great. We need this and they turned to be just a nincompoop that nobody likes right. Well, I mean Bloomberg: who was a registered Republican in the middle of his term, becomes an independent and a vast number of people in administration we're Democrats and the thing that he always shared with Republicans why's, that love of the financial markets in his inability after the financial crisis, in two thousand eight step away from that world, but his sense of public service, at least in philosophical way. What was very old school liberal and trying to make the city a better place and not just send money out too rich people in the summer. There is much to admire
what he did a long with the terrors of stop and frisk and in what he did when he ignored people who didn't look like him or didn't travel in the circle. So that's a very mixed bag, but the blasio I threw up my hands As the gallows got shiny again, food stamp, useless city shot up doubling in the years after the financial crisis, the percentage of NEO because below the poverty line remained around twenty percent with another twenty percent highly vulnerable. There were almost fifty thousand people sleeping on the streets, any given night suckered by the one to punch of the prosperity, gospel and greedy banks make a queens had the highest number of fraudulent home loans in foreclosures in the city, and only one development under the five thou,
one hundred and seventy six predicted during its rezoning. Billions in minority capital disappeared, while community groups at once help people by homes now tried to save them. White capital in the next wave of gentrification stood ready to take advantage. Even the Yankees piled on. If stadiums were cathedrals, a baseball, they use their deal with the city to build the Vatican vaulted palace in the Bronx. They charge two thousand six hundred and twenty five dollars for a seat behind home plate all. But the richest, a powerless somehow suckered by the luxury city. You write a lot about commercial real estate and its role in what has happened in the earth was forty fifty years and I think, for instance, of nine eleven and afterwards, oh my god, what happened? Financial district well allotted to turn into apartments, but people also nobody's ever going to work in a skyscraper again there was that magical period, but there is also a counter sense of oh, my god.
the city will never recover and in a certain way, we have it in two thousand, eight again where it seems this. Is this the worse its ever gonna get in? In a matter of a couple years it healed New York is incredibly resilient place and given there a few circumstances- and I thank goodness with the administration that we have as we're going to be able to get the kind of financial support and a little bit of the balance of payments tat. The city makes to be evened out hopefully, but the city can bring itself back. Rockefeller used to talk about catalytic Bigness Data Radavan right and it was big urban renewal, big developments, and we do need that kind of bigness, but not in that kind of development. This is a moment for big ideas. It's time to take some risks, the biggest risk undertakings as spam so that money on maintenance, fixed the subways fix basic services and the city will take care of itself. That seems to be oddly enough, a big idea,
as we ve seen this city is a vast network of connections that works much like a brain. When people exchanged ideas, actions and money with each other, the smarter, cleaner, greener, safer and more creative. It became yet the last for decades. Also, let the people of New York, mounted with too many of them farther away from real power than they have ever been. At the same time, to many others became passive consumers of urban life I want to talk about the future and what happens when we, are all that and I would, I believe, talking about another famous quote that I love, which has drawn up like a litter briefly, he said the true New Yorker Secret we believe that people living anywhere else have to be in some sense kidding. It reminds one of how important to New York City- and this
three part regeneration. Reformation, re imagination, who talk about is just the sheer hubris civic narcissism of New York right here. That's very true. My last book was about how Chicago had a whole parallel. Aesthetic that was really the crucible for a lot of things that then went off to New York and became famous. So I think I've always brought a certain kind of gimlet eye on New York's claims of primacy. The lot of it is self promotion and when It did a little bit below the surface. You see that yeah there's a lot of flummery here. a few months. I've civilizations grumble cities and all that, but I mean actually feeling fairly hopeful uncertainly full of eagerness not return to normal, but to go to the theatre in restaurants. I can't wait to go sit down and
of a restaurant and have a drink and just hear that, like tinkling of of silverware, people talking and go to a movie and wait lining up the pent up demand do things in this city is gonna, be immense. I think the awful retails situation we have extreme scapes- are real serious problem. They have a lot to do with how we should Now I do look at these boarded a buildings and hey. This is going to be great for somebody, because I looked back and you think about Soho in Chelsea in other parts throughout the city that were once places where you are. I but not have gone unless it was two a m on Saturday night, but now those places have sufferers in them and are at say that's great, but I'm saying that they didn't die and if there is one lesson to be taken from all this is that we learned to be able to Look at the city and say: okay, we have this great ability now did look at data to measure things. That's all we care about right once in a while. We need to look at that
changes that we put into place in the policies and keep taking their temperature soap to hopefully avoid creating new pro problems. By saying this is the new permanent way. We do things we need to say: let's try this and let's see how this goes and then ask ourselves. Every few years did that work has that going that was Thomas Digest. De. Why J? The author of New York, New York, New York, conversation with Kurt Henderson thanks so much to both of them and thanks to you for listening, we also made episode with Tom Daijah back in twenty thirteen about his book on Chicago the third coast. That episode is called the middle of everywhere. It is number one hundred and thirty six in our archive and I'm happy to say, that our entire archive is now available in any podcast that we will be back very
tune with irregular for economic trade. You episode until then take care of yourself, and if you can someone else to economics, radios produced by stature and rent, but radio we can be reached at radio at for economics that come. This episode was produced by Brent cats. Are staff also includes Allison, Craig low market Mccluskey Gregg Ribbon Zactly Kinsky married Duke met Hickey and immaterial. We had help this week from Jasmine, cleaner. Our theme song is MR fortune by the hitchhikers. The other music was composed by the scarecrow, with additional music. This week by Michael Reorder and Stephen all Rick. If you'd like to read a transcript or show notes, go to free economics that come
fade out and bring up Manhattan, nor accept your economics, radio network, teacher either Stephen Double again one more thing. If you like for economics, radio, I think you'll also like the latest episode of people, I mostly admire the podcast hosted by my free economic spreading, colon Steve, Levin, here's what it sounds like if there is one thing: John Donoghue love. It's a good academic fight, Stanford, Professor, with an economics phd, from Yale and logically from Harvard down who has spent his career. Locked in fractious academic debate said sometimes front for decades. penalty probably is one of the easiest things that you can do to car There are some political support,
just say: I'm going to kill the murderers, but it really doesn't. of any of the serious crime problems because executions, don't happen in his country, often without a twenty or twenty five year delay. The result suggest that there's no way that the death penalty could actually De Tournay one yeah. Absolutely the death penalty is incredibly expensive because you ve got litigation and if you actually talk but the resources that are used to run your capital regime and put into some of the effect of crime. Fighting measures you'd get a much bigger bang for your, but its people. I mostly are. You can find it on your favorite podcast them.
Transcript generated on 2021-03-22.