In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Granularity | Main | Elsewhere »

August 09, 2003

Free Reads -- Housing in NYC

Friedrich --

I have a theory -- I'm not sure it's defensible, but it's mine and it gives me pleasure -- that politics in America during the last 35ish years boils down to this: that everything is a reaction to the '60s. There's been nothing new, nothing really different. Just a bunch of reactions. The problem is that the programs of the '60s went too far; no, the problem is they didn't go far enough. The solution is they need to be reformed; no, the solution is they need to be ditched entirely. And meanwhile the bills for what was put in place during the '60s continue to pile up ...

An example? Here's an amazing article by Alan Feuer in the NYTimes about Co-op City, a 35-building neighborhood in the Bronx. Built in 1968 and currently home to 50,000 people, it was one of those we-can-do-anything postwar government projects, and was intended to create "affordable housing" for low- and middle-class families. A state program oversaw construction, and state money was used to make the whole thing happen. All very huge, as well as very idealistic and ambitious. Ie., very '60s. (Tarzan yodel here.)

Today, only 36 years later, Co-op City is falling apart. Roofs leak. Pieces of concrete are falling off of balconies. The garages, which are crumbling, have had to close. Co-op City faces a repair bill of $500 million -- $500 million! -- yet its tenant corporation is running an annual deficit of $7 million. ($7 million!) So the inevitable ugly arguments are multiplying: time to privatize? Time for the state to rush in with yet more money? A working class utopia indeed.

Me, I think we should just forward the bills along to Nelson Rockefeller's grandkids.



Dept. of Government Boondoggles UPDATE: There's a lot of money sloshing around lower Manhattan that's meant to right some of the wrongs of 9/11, and no doubt the WTC area does need the help. But does Chinatown? Does the Lower East Side? Felix Salmon reviews the facts and the evidence, and does a lot of sensible thinking about these questions (here).

posted by Michael at August 9, 2003


Co-op City as a manifestation of the 1960s?

Posted by: David Sucher on August 9, 2003 5:58 PM

Built in '68, "affordable housing,"... Am I missing something? Ah, oh maybe I get you -- it's not the hippie '60s. You're right. But a lot of those giant urb-development schemes that seem so '50s in character were actually realized in the '60s. So there's a funny overlap there. I dunno. Think it's unfair to characterize the Rockefeller era as an aspect of "the '60s"?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 9, 2003 6:05 PM

Co-op housing is one of those great progressive ideas that often breaks down in practice. I live in a co-op, and I see it. My particular building is OK, but it's only six units, and we've had nearly all responsible owners. There are six 'sister' buildings nearby (built at the same time, but as separate co-ops), and most of them are falling to bits because the residents are cheaping out on maintenance. I bet that's what's wrong with Co-op City - the majority of the residents demand low rents, too low to cover costs. (We just raised our rent $50/month.) Because the project is so large, they don't see a connection between what they don't pay and what they don't get; the breakdowns are all blamed on bad craftsmen, bad equipment, bad construction, bad management - never on their own stinginess or mistakes or abuse of the property. (I'm sure amateur management made a big contribution, too. I have enough headaches keeping the books for a six-flat.)

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on August 11, 2003 7:09 PM

Does NYC's Chinatown deserve Federal help because of what happened on 9/11? Well no more than any area devasted by hurricanes, floods, or tornados. For you who are unfamiliar with downtown NYC, the city was effectively shut down from south of 14th Street to the Booklyn Bridge, an area that encompasses the entirety of Chinatown. The area is reminiscent of the famed lower eastside at the beginning of the 20th Century, in that it is a warren of very old ramshackle buildings that house business's of every type, one on top of the other, populated by immigrant workers putting in 16-18 hour days, six and seven days a week, without medical benefits, pension plans, not even social security because so often they are paid off the books.

Then came 9/11, and no one in the city was even allowed into the area for several weeks, after which very few people went down there for many, many months because of the fear of breathing in the poisonous dust that came from the removal of the remnants of the towers and buildings in the immediate WTC area. Now imagine that you are a worker or small business owner and you see that billions are being given to the airlines because of the business they lost. Wouldn't it occur to you that your losses were at least as severe, if not more so? But of course I'm a liberal who still believes that one of the major point of all the taxes we pay is not to buy the most expensive weapon systems imaginable for the largest military in the world, so much as to protect our citizenry when, through no fault of their own, they have suffered from devastating circumstance.

Posted by: Michael S on August 12, 2003 12:27 PM

M. Blowhard - This is trite, I know, but it's always seemed to me that the 60s is when people stopped being practical and started being ... I suppose they'd say philosophical but it was no more than being interested in hearing themselves talk pretty.

What's a stake? What is the goal? How might the goal be achieved? I really won't talk to anyone who hasn't already thought about those questions and at the average political party, the only people who have that kind of mind are usually cater waiters. I mean that kind of mine for questions that affect all our lives.

Posted by: j.c. on August 12, 2003 1:43 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?