Our annotated bibliography can be found here.
After listening to “There Goes the Neighborhood: Here’s the Plan”, I realized how it was created and what type of conceptual voice the podcast took; it was set in a narrative perspective. As events seemed to occur, there was a narrator describing his opinions or his overall thought process behind the topic of rezoning in Brooklyn being tied to gentrification, overcrowding, and manipulation tactics driven by politics and big shot developers.
I found the podcast’s aesthetic to be refreshing; there was never a time that the listener was left unaware of a topic or unbeknownst to a certain term; everything was explained for any listener’s understanding. I liked how there was a healthy mixture of narrative with interviews or a type of panelist conversation in which there is a moderator and someone speaking along those lines. I also liked the stitching between reality and personal analysis; it gave a very humanistic approach to a very broad topic of gentrification and rezoning.
As for any inquiries I had subsequent to listening to the podcast, I only had one recurring question, which is as follows: “As they mentioned the East New York project, Is this an example of finding an “antidote” to blight while avoiding massive gentrification?”
Anyone who knows me moderately well, knows that I am a creature of habit. I take the same train and corresponding route to school, work, or wherever I need to be. Then, the same way home at the end of practically everyday. I have had this routine for years and I find comfort in it. Though I take this rather repetitious journey everyday, I would never describe my daily interaction with New York City as “boring” as Jonn Elledge stated in his short urban-walking memoir. In a city as vast as New York, you can take the same route everyday and experience a new adventure; meeting new people, taking in new cultures, and learning new points of view.
Normally, if I’m on a bus or train, you would find my nose buried in a book, my eyes captivated in a literary induced reverie. But once the sun goes down and the impending night rolls in, my innate paranoia of safety and awareness for my commute home becomes the forefront thought on my mind. I am then forced to walk in the clearest moments of observation of my entire day. I notice the last of CityTech students exiting Namm hall from their night classes as they make a beeline for the A train entrance, tourists desperately trying to find the Brooklyn Bridge on Adams Street, the homeless man curled on a bench in Columbus Park, and the colorful LED lights that illuminate the 1850’s Brooklyn Borough Hall at the end of the park. The open space in front of the massive stairs of the hall makes for skateboarders’ delight if the weather permits.
I agree with how Elledge described the urban city as opposed to the rural or suburban parts of town. That it’s more of human nature to watch other humans rather than observe inanimate nature. Everything most likely stays the same in less populated areas, while the constant motion of a diverse city ultimately gives rather divergent outputs of everyday life. The same buildings, bridges, parks, or other structures can become monotonous, redundant, or “boring” (as Elledge stated), but it’s the population, the people of this city, that add such a satisfaction that can’t be duplicated. It’s the New Yorkers that breathe life into New York City.
I am neutral in the belief that people do have a right to the city because on one hand as we saw in “My Brooklyn” the people of Fulton Mall area and other zones of Brooklyn, although being there for many years and having an attachment to that particular zone could not prevent the change that happened in that area. Despite that they protested, met with the committee in charge of deciding whether the change would happen or not, and even wrote letters, their claim to the city/zone was not enough to stop the power play of change. Meanwhile in Citizen Jane, her claim to the city played a major role in the reversal of the change that was going to happen. Her observation skills and protesting skills helped her gather people together to stop the city from going in the direction that would negatively impact the lives of so many people.
So now my Question is “Do only a certain group of people have a right to the city? And Are they the only ones who can stop change from presenting itself within?” I think watching both films showed me that power and influence plays a huge role in the outcome of a city and that not every group of people within that city can attain both or one in order to invoke or deny any sort of change.
Before New York City was the place we all know, love, and consider home, it was a land that belonged to the Native Americans. Every part of Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island was composed of different territories. The tribes bartered, fought, and made other kinds of unconventional deals to widen their territory and add better value to their empire. In present day, the Native Americans’ presence is absent, but their territory names remain as a consistent reminiscence of their existence. Another tradition that stayed alive was the constant push and pull of territories.
Regardless if it was treaties of the Canarsee tribe (of the Canarsie boundary) with the Montauk territory or changing a manufacturing zone into residential to support the rise of trendy live-work studios, the overall aesthetic seems to linger in our concurrent way of life. Instead of the means of trading and war of the past, we have adapted our culture to a vast form of politicism.
According to both “My Brooklyn” and “Citizen Jane,” it is clear to see how money, bribes, and power influences most changes in the city. After watching both films, I found it apparent to see how financial gain really contributes to changes in the city and just how long New York City has been facing this type of political system. I saw the similarities in both films since the mayor (of the time) seemed to always be a big part in the various changes. Both Robert Moses and Michael Bloomberg appeared to have played the same roles in each respective movie; their public image being a mixture of love/hate. It is strangely obvious and proven by both documentaries that having both the financial backing and support of the mayor is an important ingredient to successfully making any change in New York City.