chapter  1
30 Pages

Home Ownership in New York City's Ravaged Neighborhoods

ByNeal R. Peirce, Robert Guskind

Lewis Mumford, the American writer and social scientist, wrote that cities were created as "a means of bringing heaven down to earth". They are a "symbol of the possible", His idealism is hard to grasp these days when our cities have become symbols of despair. Solving urban problems sometimes seems impossible. Large or small, America's cities have had a perennially difficult time generating admiration, respect, or understanding. Thoughtful people have begun to recognize that the challenges in American society are far more complex than simply putting roofs over people's heads. During the 1980s, American downtowns, from Boston and Baltimore to Chicago and Minneapolis, experienced the biggest, most concentrated building booms of their history. To most Americans, New York City offers a cautionary plot line, one that usually recounts in the impeccable fashion of Murphy's Law what can go wrong, how it happens, and how it is predestined to do so.