Atlantic Cities

'When Will My City Fit Me, Daddy?': Best #Cityreads of the Week

'When Will My City Fit Me, Daddy?': Best #Cityreads of the Week
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Our weekly roundup of the most intriguing articles about cities and urbanism we've come across in the past seven days.

"Imported From Detroit," Nicole Aschoff, Jacobin

In 2009, America did hate Detroit. Detroit signified failure. When the Detroit Three executives took their private jets to Washington in late 2008 to ask the Bush administration for a “bridge loan” similar to the bailouts being given big Wall Street banks, they were met with incredulity and anger. The American public was unmoved by the automakers’ plight, and Congress briskly voted against a loan. But Bush didn’t want GM and Chrysler going under on his watch, so he threw them a bone from the TARP fund that held them over until Obama took office. The Obama administration decided that an unstructured bankruptcy by these two firms (particularly GM) would be a financial and political nightmare, and so resolved to provide a multi-billion-dollar bailout in exchange for a Treasury-led restructuring of the firms. (Ford avoided this fate by withdrawing its request for loans.)

In 2009, America did hate Detroit. Detroit signified failure. When the Detroit Three executives took their private jets to Washington in late 2008 to ask the Bush administration for a “bridge loan” similar to the bailouts being given big Wall Street banks, they were met with incredulity and anger. The American public was unmoved by the automakers’ plight, and Congress briskly voted against a loan. But Bush didn’t want GM and Chrysler going under on his watch, so he threw them a bone from the TARP fund that held them over until Obama took office. The Obama administration decided that an unstructured bankruptcy by these two firms (particularly GM) would be a financial and political nightmare, and so resolved to provide a multi-billion-dollar bailout in exchange for a Treasury-led restructuring of the firms. (Ford avoided this fate by withdrawing its request for loans.) - See more at: http://jacobinmag.com/2013/04/imported-from-detroit/#sthash.IdF5ZA5i.YVxGMg8l.dpuf
In 2009, America did hate Detroit. Detroit signified failure. When the Detroit Three executives took their private jets to Washington in late 2008 to ask the Bush administration for a “bridge loan” similar to the bailouts being given big Wall Street banks, they were met with incredulity and anger. The American public was unmoved by the automakers’ plight, and Congress briskly voted against a loan. But Bush didn’t want GM and Chrysler going under on his watch, so he threw them a bone from the TARP fund that held them over until Obama took office. The Obama administration decided that an unstructured bankruptcy by these two firms (particularly GM) would be a financial and political nightmare, and so resolved to provide a multi-billion-dollar bailout in exchange for a Treasury-led restructuring of the firms. (Ford avoided this fate by withdrawing its request for loans.) - See more at: http://jacobinmag.com/2013/04/imported-from-detroit/#sthash.IdF5ZA5i.YVxGMg8l.dpuf


Vladislav Gajic /Shutterstock.com

"Lulu and the Life-Sized City," Mikael Colville-Andersen, Copenhagenize

A few months ago, Lulu-Sophia took it to the next level. We were walking and had stopped at a pedestrian crossing, waiting to cross.

We were quiet at the moment. Lulu-Sophia's urbanist mind was, however, in full swing.

She looked up at me and said, quite simply, "When will my city fit me, Daddy?"

"In Cluttered Home, a Dark Secret 3 Decades Old," Vivian Yee, New York Times

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — There was the night James Nichols introduced himself to his new neighbors on Vassar Road by walking in their front door without knocking. There was the afternoon Denise Darragh asked him to help her with an injured squirrel, and he — still wearing his suit jacket — killed it with a hatchet as the children playing in her yard screamed. And the day she was painting the house, wearing cutoff shorts, and turned around to see him taking photos of her from below with a long camera lens.

In later decades, after Mr. Nichols’s wife disappeared — she had killed herself or run away, he told relatives and friends and the police, though they had doubts — he withdrew from the neighbors as his little white house retreated from the world. On the collapsing roof, neat gray shingles gave way to drooping tar paper. In the garage, hills of junk grew higher. On the rare occasions Mr. Nichols appeared, he would be sitting in his car in the driveway, drowsing or reading the paper or maybe doing nothing at all.

"Harlem Townhouse Is a Record-Breaker at $4M as Gentrification Speeds Up," Laignee Barron, New York Daily News

Central Harlem is putting up Park Slope numbers. A townhouse in the uptown neighborhood just sold for a record $4 million — the latest and most stunning step in the area’s rapid gentrification.

“This is not a surprise,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chairwoman of Douglas Elliman’s retail group, “This is a natural expression of where the trend is going.”

"Can Aja Brown, Compton's Hip, Refreshing Reform Mayor, Turn This Woeful City Around?" Patrick Range McDonald, L.A. Weekly

Sixteen miles southeast of downtown L.A., Compton produced such world-class rappers as Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, The Game and Kendrick Lamar, tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams and Hall of Fame baseball player Eddie Murray. And there’s the groundbreaking album Straight Outta Compton by legendary group N.W.A.

Once dubbed the United States’ “murder capital” by Bloomberg News, Compton nurtures a deep, historical distrust of “outsiders” — yet it was the local Bloods (Pirus), Crips, Tortilla Flats and many others who bloodied and terrorized its streets, and its parade of inept, often scandal-ridden, homegrown politicians who helped drive out the middle class and shatter the town’s tax base. The state of California was forced to take over Compton Unified School District’s shoddily run schools in 1993, and in 2000 Omar Bradley controversially disbanded the police department, handing over law enforcement to the Sheriff’s Department.

Last summer the city, with a 25 percent poverty rate, teetered for a time at the edge of bankruptcy. Mayor Eric Perrodin blamed it on “possible fraud, waste and abuse.”

For years, the City Council and school board have been controlled by an ossified and often paranoid black old guard, which rebuffs the Latino majority. But after a long acquiescence to this arrangement, on June 4, the town’s mostly black voters chose reform candidate Brown, 63.7 percent to 36.2 percent over Bradley, who was trying for a comeback, thanks to Judge Flier’s ruling. Voters that day also elected Compton’s first Latino city councilman, Isaac Galvan, 26, like Brown a political newcomer.

Brown, who took office on July 2, is like no mayor Compton has seen before — nor, for that matter, any city in L.A.’s tattered old southeast suburbs.

Top image: Pavel L Photo and Video/Shutterstock.com

Amanda Erickson is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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