Tuesday, July 14, 2015
“New York City is a great monument to the power of money and greed . . . a race for rent.”—Frank Lloyd Wright
In 1857, Seneca Village and several other shantytowns and villages were razed to make way for the construction of Central Park. In total, 1,600 inhabitants—mostly freed slaves and Irish immigrants—were forcibly removed from their settlements. This was no mere side effect of the park’s construction—it was one of the main motivations behind it. In the preceding thirty years, New York City had nearly quadrupled in population, and as development pushed further and further North on Manhattan island, the propertied class increasingly felt a need to “tame the wilds.”
And tame the wilds they did—again and again. Like dozens of similar cities worldwide, New York is no stranger to inequality and the displacement of populations due to increasing costs of living. But the accelerated transformation of New York City in the past fifteen years has gone far beyond what anyone would have imagined possible, leaving many to wonder where “their” New York has gone.