Comment 18110

By statius (registered) | Posted February 07, 2008 at 17:11:16

Ted,

I think your recommendations are actually the bandaid solutions here (with the traffic issue being a notable exception).

I can't help but sympathize with Baystreeter's frustration. Small thinking has got us nowhere and seems inappropriate given the dire situation downtown. I question whether law and order and a belligerent underclass is the biggest issue in Hamilton's downtown (as it arguably was in pre-Giuliani New York), but something comparable to Giuliani's unilateral, take-no-prisoners approach is probably what is needed to push the rejuvenation forward. Getting quality commerce downtown, through whatever means, is probably the key issue. We like to delude ourselves into thinking that the city's core has "good bones" but this isn't really the case. Why would anyone want to live in a downtown in which you can't even walk to buy groceries or nice clothes (let alone gourmet foods and luxury goods)? The downtown may have excellent potential in its public spaces, but how many people of middle income or above spend any part of an average day sitting in a park or town square? There are no amenities for the middle class (who are, and always have been, the real functional core of every successful city). Giuliani realized this and the essence of his success was in reshaping Manhattan into a bourgeoisie-friendly environment (as it was at its peak in the 1950s). In order to accept the discomfort and inconvenience posed by the "freaks and weirdos" present downtown there must be a reason for the "norms" to be there in the first place. Commerce is that reason.

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