“Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul” by Jeremiah Moss— A Look at Gentrification

Moss, Jeremiah. “Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul”, Dey Street Books, 2017.

A Look at Gentrification

Amos Lassen

In “Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul”, Jeremiah Moss gives us a chronicle of gentrification in the twenty-first century as well ass a love letter to lost New York. Moss is “the creator of the popular and incendiary blog ‘Vanishing New York’”. It seems like New York City has always been a place for artists, writers, and others who want to be part of its rich cultural exchange and unique social fabric that has made the city famous. However the New York that was is no longer as modern gentrification has been transforming the city from an “exceptional, iconoclastic metropolis into a suburbanized luxury zone with a price tag only the one percent can afford”.

We read about the city’s development in the twenty-first century during the period of “hyper-gentrification” that has resulted in the “shocking transformation of beloved neighborhoods and the loss of treasured unofficial landmarks”. Moss takes us on a guided tour parts of town that have been changed the most—from the Lower East Side and Chelsea to Harlem and Williamsburg and we see that iconic institutions have been replaced by cute shops, condo buildings and chain stores. Moss eulogizes the place that was and his writing is a “mixture of snark, sorrow, poeticism, and lyric wit”. He is angry and becomes angrier as the writes about the repercussions of urban renewal.

Moss is and for the last ten years he has carefully watched the changes that have brought about the transformation of neighborhoods and the loss of unofficial landmarks. He traces the trend of massive destruction of so much of the physicality of the city and shows that in more recent years the process has been speeded up. It is now up to the people to stop what is making New York lose the energy it once had and was so proud of.

Gentrification has affected the poorer people who Rent in many non-stabilized apartments is now $10,000/month rent and there are certainly not many people who can afford that. Political and corporate agreements and regulations this but there are actions that can be taken and Moss shares those with us.

Moss has done his research well and includes personal anecdotes but it is his point of view that makes this such a fascinating and important read. What once made certain neighborhoods interesting has vanished as have places like the Bowery, Bleecker Street and the meat packing district.

Moss’ critique of neoliberalism and global capitalism are required reading. Here is a cry to action that we so badly need.


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