chapter  2
25 Pages

The Failure of Urban Renewal as a Spatial Ordering Apparatus

Urban renewal failed on many fronts, though none of these failures was as staggering as its inability to tame disorderly neighborhoods. In New York City, it gradually became obvious that the displacement of targeted “disorderly” people from certain neighborhoods did not solve what was perceived to be a citywide problem. The construction of identical cruciform towers surrounded by gardens (Figure 2.1) did not structure the behavior of low-income people and did not make them conform to middle-class standards. Administrators of Columbia University and other Morningside Heights institutions found that urban renewal and other physical solutions did not even address what they considered to be social disorder. By the late 1960s, the failure of urban renewal as an ordering strategy was almost complete and the way of ordering cities shifted from the physical to the social arena.