On the podcast, John Mollenkopf, Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York, reflects on Michael Bloomberg’s three terms as mayor of New York City and what the election of Bill de Blasio means for the city. Bill de Blasio is the first Democratic mayor elected since 1993 and won the mayoral election by a landslide, receiving over 73% of the vote. We discuss issues of inequality, affordable housing, immigration, and urban development – as well as the shifting landscape of electoral politics in America’s largest city.
Dr. Mollenkopf is a Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center and is director of the Center for Urban Research. He is a renowned urban scholar on New York City’s politics and has authored or edited fifteen books on urban politics, urban policy, immigration, and New York City. Prior to joining the Graduate Center in 1981, he directed the Economic Development Division of the New York City Department of City Planning.
On the podcast, The City discusses the intersections of race, class, and redevelopment in Brooklyn, New York with My Brooklyn filmmaker Allison Lirish Dean. In the filmmakers’ own words:
My Brooklyn is a documentary about Director Kelly Anderson’s personal journey, as a Brooklyn “gentrifier,” to understand the forces reshaping her neighbourhood along lines of race and class. The story begins when Anderson moves to Brooklyn in 1988, lured by cheap rents and bohemian culture. By Michael Bloomberg’s election as mayor in 2001, a massive speculative real estate boom is rapidly altering the neighbourhoods she has come to call home. She watches as an explosion of luxury housing and chain store development spurs bitter conflict over who has a right to live in the city and to determine its future. While some people view these development patterns as ultimately revitalizing the city, to others, they are erasing the eclectic urban fabric, economic and racial diversity, creative alternative culture, and unique local economies that drew them to Brooklyn in the first place. It seems that no less than the city’s soul is at stake.
Meanwhile, development officials announce a controversial plan to tear down and remake the Fulton Mall, a popular and bustling African-American and Caribbean commercial district just blocks from Anderson’s apartment. She discovers that the Mall, despite its run-down image, is the third most profitable shopping area in New York City with a rich social and cultural history. As the local debate over the Mall’s future intensifies, deep racial divides in the way people view neighbourhood change become apparent. All of this pushes Anderson to confront her own role in the process of gentrification, and to investigate the forces behind it more deeply.
The film is an important reminder of how seemingly mundane processes of zoning and land use change can dramatically change urban landscapes, and these changes may entail the loss of vibrant, racially diverse neighbourhoods and the displacement of lower-income residents and affordable, independent businesses. While the contexts may be different, these broader processes are at work in cities across North America, and certainly in Vancouver.
UBC geography professor David Ley and geographer Nicholas Lynch co-authored a recent study, Divisions and Disparities in Lotus Land: Socio-Spatial Income Polarization in Greater Vancouver, 1970-2005. Nicholas Lynch presents the worrisome findings of the study, as we see an increasingly divided Vancouver and a disappearing middle class. He discusses the social geography of polarization across the region, the implications, and possible policy solutions.
There is a free screening of “My Brooklyn” scheduled for Wednesday, February 20th at SFU Woodward’s. Find the details on the Facebook event page. These very processes are occurring throughout Vancouver’s neighbourhoods, especially in Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside. A large number of rezonings for large condominium developments (by large developers) have been approved for the predominantly low-income Chinatown and Downtown Eastside area.
Tune in for more about this on the week’s radio program and podcast, airing live February 19th at 5pm on CiTR 101.9 FM.
Why do aestheticized urban landscapes attract higher income groups? What role do artists and boutiques play in neighbourhood class transformation?
On this week’s edition of The City, we critically evaluate the connections between artists, galleries and boutiques, city policy, and processes of neighbourhood change. Artists have long been implicated in processes of neighbourhood socio-economic upgrading, and their preferred locational choice of affordable, (lower-income) inner-city neighbourhoods is implicated in early stages of major neighbourhood class transformation. We examine how artists and cultural workers themselves view these processes, the role of city planning policy, and the potential barriers to gentrification.
The City critically unpacks these issues from the following perspectives:
- Host Andy Longhurst reads an excerpt from Vanessa Mathews’ article “Aestheticizing Space: Art, Gentrification, and the City” which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Geography Compass
- Dr. Sharon Zukin (Professor of Sociology, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York)
- Tarah Hogue (Curator, Gam Gallery)
- Richard Newirth (Director, Cultural Services, City of Vancouver)
- Dr. Harvey Molotch (Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and Sociology, New York University)
- Downtown Eastside neighbourhood activist Wendy Pedersen (Carnegie Community Action Project)
You can subscribe to the podcast and have it downloaded automatically to iTunes – or listen from the audio player below.