When I got my first internship with the MTA in summer 2018, I got myself reassigned to the Civil Engineering department because I did not like working in a Manhattan office cubical and filing MetroCard complaints. One of the assignments of the Civil Engineers was to inspect ongoing subway station repairs. This meant I got to travel around New York City.
The way this relates to Cadogan’s walking experiences is that I did experience some of the things he mentioned. When Hakim, the Civil Engineer in charge of the inspections, brought me and another intern to the 145th street station in Harlem, I heard music playing loudly from the apartments and saw how most people living there were dark-skinned. I also saw the wealthy Upper East Side and how the residents were rarely seen hanging outside.
Our walking experiences are not entirely the same, of course. When I walk in a different neighborhood, I do not talk to people there because I do not have any interest in doing so. Also, a part of my perspective on the neighborhood is influenced by what I see online. For instance, when I wanted to go to Apple’s 5th Avenue store after work, I looked up directions on Google Maps and recognized the high-end clothing brands nearby. I knew the streets would probably be filled because of that and the fact that Central Park is 5 minutes away.
I think it is a well-thought-out idea to describe the differences between the South Bronx and the Upper East Side. I can certainly see how people in the Upper East Side have wealth, but don’t or can’t spend their leisure time with their neighbors. As for the South Bronx, it may not be an attractive neighborhood in terms of cleanliness, but it is rich in the way that the community gets together to have fun.
Yes, people should have a right to the city because they are the ones who inhabit it. They pay taxes that help the city develop, vote for the city’s representatives, and are responsible for the city’s culture.
Longtime residents and businesses have a right to remain where they live because of the reasons mentioned above. The documentary “My Brooklyn”, explores this by looking at gentrification in Downtown Brooklyn and how it caused the community to lose homes and businesses due to increasing property values and collusion between developers and government officials. The message of the documentary consists of the following; raise awareness to plans that could impact the neighborhood, make sure everyone involved is heard, and carefully examine developments unfolding in the community (Dean 2015).
The way local governments, urban planners, and other decision-makers can ensure these rights are maintained is by creating a government office that can accurately represent the community’s residency needs, create laws that protect tenants and housing rights, and not collude with an entity that wishes to undermine said rights. This sort of protection took place in the documentary “Citizen Jane: Battle for the City”, where Robert Moses, a public official, sparred with Jane Jacobs’ philosophy on urban development. Moses had a desire to remove “cancerous” parts of New York City and build large infrastructures in its place. Jane Jacobs, a woman who examined the neighborhood by living in it, disagreed with Moses and argued that the inhabitants of the city should have a say on what gets built in their community (Kenny 2017). Jacobs was maintaining the people’s rights by showing how Moses’ projects would affect the city negatively, creating a network of support, and rallying with residents until the projects were canceled.
Dean, Allison Lirish. My Brooklyn Study Guide. 2015. https://mybrooklynmovie.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/MYB-StudyGuideFINAL.pdf
Kenny, Glenn. “Review: Jacobs and Moses Star in ‘Citizen Jane: Battle for the City’.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Apr. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/04/19/movies/citizen-jane-battle-for-the-city-review.html.