The Creative Destruction of New York City: Engineering the City for the Elite


Alessandro Busà’s The Creative Destruction of New York City: Engineering the City for the Elite covers over a decade of the lightning-fast changes that have transformed New York into a luxury city no longer accessible to its denizens.  Living on the outskirts of New York myself, amongst those driven out, I found this exposé of the dynamics and people behind hyper-gentrification extraordinarily eye-opening.  As housing crises across the globe become more alarming in cities like New York, Berlin, London, Paris, Singapore and more, I’m proud to represent Busà through the Dijkstra Agency as this important, dramatic narrative is released today from Oxford.

A grumbling stream of New Yorkers has been flowing toward the city’s outskirts or simply moving out altogether since the beginning of Bloomberg's administration and has continued on through de Blasio’s.  Ask any New York City resident with a normal income about their cost of living, and be prepared for an apoplectic tirade about the sudden rent hikes during the past ten years and the latest influx of wealthy newcomers.  Everyone watched the rapid development of lavishly gleaming towers accessible only to the phenomenally wealthy, while polished people in Hermès scarves and Burberry ties began showing up in neighborhoods that had been considered “sketchy” practically the night before.

According to Busà, powerful, corporate-style branding and massive rezoning are creatively destroying the city at a very high speed.  In fact, New York has become little more than a machine for generating capital.  The builders of that machine, the true rulers of New York, are not Bloomberg or de Blasio, but an urban regime of power players in real estate, banking and finance who have redesigned, rebranded and rebuilt America’s beloved Gotham until it's a shimmering, extravagant, urban product targeting solely the transnational, uber-wealthy elite.  As Mom-and-pop shops close down and condos sell for millions in Harlem, the city itself becomes a luxury that not only costs too much for city natives to consume but intends to make them feel ill-at-ease to sit on their very own stoops.  

What’s been going on in New York for the past decade or more isn’t the kind of organic gentrification we’ve seen in the past that intends to slowly improve a community, nor is it a natural change, a healthy or normal evolution.  This is an engineered, rapid and ruthless ouster of not just the working classes, not just the middle classes, but the upper classes, as well.  Busà's passionate account tells the story of exactly how the city has been encircled in a velvet rope that keeps the rest of us out.

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