9781859841556-frontcover-max_221

The Assassination of New York

“Nothing that has been written about New York ... comes close.”—New York Newsday

Robert Fitch argues that, within a generation, New York City has been transformed from the richest city in the world to one of the poorest in North America. The pillars of its economy—Macy’s, the Daily News, Citibank, Olympia and York, the Trump organization—have cracked or collapsed. Today, the officially poor in New York number nearly 2,000,000 and more than 400,000 residents of the city are without jobs.

In this indictment of those who have wrecked New York, Robert Fitch points to the financial and real-estate elites. Their goals, he argues, have been simple and monolithic: to increase the value of the land they own by extruding low-rent workers and factories, replacing them with high-rent professionals and office buildings. The planning establishment has been able of raise the value of real estate inside the city boundaries over twenty-fold. In doing so, Fitch suggests, it effectively closed New York’s deep-water port, eliminated its freight rail system, shuttered its factories and destroyed its capacity for incubating new business.

Now the real-estate values have collapsed. The city is left with 65,000,000 square feet of office space—enough to last, without any new building, to the middle of the twenty-first century. In pursuit of those who are responsible, Fitch arraigns the great and the bad of the city’s establishment: Roger Starr, architect of “planned shrinkage” (the withdrawal of fire, police and mass transit services from black and Latino neighborhoods); the Ford Foundation, which proposed converting vast tracts of the South Bronx into a vegetable garden; City Hall fixers like John Zucotti, Herb Sturz and James Felt, who cut the deals between government and real estate by working for both sides; and the Rockefeller family, whose involuntary investment in the Rockefeller Center became a gigantic “tar baby,” nearly swallowing up their entire fortune.

Drawing on never-before-published material from the Rockefeller family archives, as well as other archival documents, this book aims to expose those responsible for the demise of New York. 

Reviews

  • “Bob Fitch has turned over every document in the archives to find out who was in the firing squad that murdered New York: the unelected power brokers in the boardrooms, the planners from private foundations, and the political puppets who meekly pulled the trigger on blue-collar industries when they were given the order to shoot ... Nothing that has been written about New York ... comes close.”

Blog

  • Sylvie Tissot: Mythologies of the Hipster

    Hatred for hipsters is suspect, and certainly does not help us understand class divisions.

    by Sylvie Tissot


    (image via parisbobo.com)

    The clip was meant to be funny and it is. It appears on one of the numerous blogs that mock hipsters. Two guys are going to a barbecue. On the way in, they encounter men whose beards are longer than theirs and whose shirts are a slightly different color from theirs, although otherwise all seems the same. They turn to each other and shout “wow, a party for hipsters, let’s get out of here!”, while the guests who were already there are heard whispering “who the hell are these hipsters?”. 

    Continue Reading

  • Remembering Robert Fitch: a "brilliant and prolific radical journalist and troublemaker"

    Last week, New York City lost one of its greatest urban critics and most outspoken voices of dissent. Robert Fitch, best known for his controversial analysis of 20th Century urban development and planning, died on March 4th at the age of 72. In the Nation on Tuesday, Doug Henwood paid tribute to this undervalued author and organizer.

    Continue Reading