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Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Placesby Sharon Zukin
Synopses & Reviews
As cities have gentrified, educated urbanites have come to prize what they regard as "authentic" urban life: aging buildings, art galleries, small boutiques, upscale food markets, neighborhood old-timers, funky ethnic restaurants, and old, family-owned shops. These signify a place's authenticity, in contrast to the bland standardization of the suburbs and exurbs.
But as Sharon Zukin shows in Naked City, the rapid and pervasive demand for authenticity--evident in escalating real estate prices, expensive stores, and closely monitored urban streetscapes--has helped drive out the very people who first lent a neighborhood its authentic aura: immigrants, the working class, and artists. Zukin traces this economic and social evolution in six archetypal New York areas--Williamsburg, Harlem, the East Village, Union Square, Red Hook, and the city's community gardens--and travels to both the city's first IKEA store and the World Trade Center site. She shows that for followers of Jane Jacobs, this transformation is a perversion of what was supposed to happen. Indeed, Naked City is a sobering update of Jacobs' legendary 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Like Jacobs, Zukin looks at what gives neighborhoods a sense of place, but argues that over time, the emphasis on neighborhood distinctiveness has become a tool of economic elites to drive up real estate values and effectively force out the neighborhood "characters" that Jacobs so evocatively idealized.
Jon Wynn immerses us in the music and the people of music festivals as well as the resources, organizers, and places where they occur.and#160; Is the andldquo;Nashville Soundandrdquo; the rough honkytonk music of Hank Williams, or is it Chet Atkins and Patsy Clineandrsquo;s mixture of rural themes and sophisticated string arrangements?and#160; Or did it morph into the andldquo;countrypolitanandrdquo; of Tammy Wynette, Ray Pride, and Charlie Rich, a long distance from the feral outlaw country music of Nelson and Haggard.and#160; Wynn finds that the old fusing of the urbane and the rural to create a distinctive brand of music in Nashville presages many of the tensions found in its festival today.and#160; When Wynn compares the Nashville scene to Austin, the music of indies prevails, but just as important is the scattering of festival venues all over town, making South by Southwest a big networking party, one that even has room for guerilla events and protesters, a mix of insiders and outsiders.and#160; We find that the folk festival at Newport offers very different sounds, sights, and atmosphere. This book is engagingly andldquo;experience-close,andrdquo; written by a master ethnographer who is also a musician and who has performed himself at many music festivals (including SXSW).and#160; Wynn tracks the history of three festivals (Newport, Nashville, Austin), then takes us on-site for each one to consider different festival agendas and styles of organization:and#160; from the musician looking to further her music career to the participant who wants to see his favorite band, from the mayor who wants to exploit a local cultural scene to the music executive hoping to sell records, from the localsandrsquo; frustration over corporate branding of their city to the touristandrsquo;s search for a good time.and#160; These secular festivals spark the imagination of young Americans and galvanize pilgrimages to the cities that host big-time extravaganzas. They have become celebratory rituals in America. and#160;Beyond the music and the people this book offers a very sharp perspective on urban symbolic power in action, how cities mobilize massive organizational resources to become promotional machines. It is time to reconsider these focal events to discover how they function as real social engines.
American cities entered a new phase when, beginning in the 1950s, artists and developers looked upon a decaying industrial zone in Lower Manhattan and saw, not blight, but opportunity: cheap rents, lax regulation, and wide open spaces. Thus, SoHo was born. From 1960 to 1980, residents transformed the industrial neighborhood into an artist district, creating the conditions under which it evolved into an upper-income, gentrified area. Introducing the ideaandmdash;still potent in city planning todayandmdash;that art could be harnessed to drive municipal prosperity, SoHo was the forerunner of gentrified districts in cities nationwide, spawning the notion of the creative class.
In The Lofts of SoHo, Aaron Shkuda studies the transition of the district from industrial space to artistsandrsquo; enclave to affluent residential area, focusing on the legacy of urban renewal in and around SoHo and the growth of artist-led redevelopment. Shkuda explores conflicts between residents and property owners and analyzes the cityandrsquo;s embrace of the once-illegal loft conversion as an urban development strategy. As Shkuda explains, artists eventually lost control of SoHoandrsquo;s development, but over several decades they nonetheless forced scholars, policymakers, and the general public to take them seriously as critical actors in the twentieth-century American city.
Austinandrsquo;s famed South by Southwest is far more than a festival celebrating indie music. Itandrsquo;s also a big networking party that sparks the imagination of hip, creative types and galvanizes countless pilgrimages to the city. Festivals like SXSW are a lot of fun, but for city halls, media corporations, cultural institutions, and community groups, theyandrsquo;re also a vital part of a complex growth strategy. In Music/City, Jonathan R. Wynn immerses us in the world of festivals, giving readers a unique perspective on contemporary urban and cultural life.
Wynn tracks the history of festivals in Newport, Nashville, and Austin, taking readers on-site to consider different festival agendas and styles of organization. Itandrsquo;s all here: from the musician looking to build her career to the mayor who wants to exploit a local cultural scene, from a residentandrsquo;s frustration over corporate branding of his city to the music executive hoping to sell records. Music/City offers a sharp perspective on cities and cultural institutions in action and analyzes how governments mobilize massive organizational resources to become promotional machines. Wynnandrsquo;s analysis culminates with an impassioned argument for temporary events, claiming that when done right, temporary occasions like festivals can serve as responsive, flexible, and adaptable products attuned to local places and communities.
About the Author
Sharon Zukin is Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center. She is the author of Loft Living (the classic book on SoHo's gentrification), Landscapes of Power (winner of the C. Wright Mills Award), The Cultures of Cities, and Point of Purchase.
Table of Contents
1. Origins and New Beginnings
2. How Brooklyn Became Cool
3. Why Harlem is Not a Ghetto
4. Living Local in the East Village
5. Union Square and the Paradox of Public Space
6. A Tale of Two Globals: Pupusas and IKEA in Red Hook
7. The Billboard and the Garden: A Struggle for Roots
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