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Memo From Manhattan: The Tompkins Square Park Riot

By Sharon Zukin
Today, the sixth of August, marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Tompkins Square Park riot in New York’s East Village. Though on that night many neighborhood residents were protesting in the streets, the riot was caused by police brutality.

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Memo From Manhattan: Town vs. Gown in Gotham

By Sharon Zukin
On a recent Saturday afternoon, along with 200 other two-legged residents of Greenwich Village and an equal number of their four-legged friends, I attended a protest meeting against New York University’s Plan 2031, a 20-year strategy to increase the size of NYU’s physical presence in New York City by 6 million square feet, 2 million of those to be newly built in the heart of our neighborhood.

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Memo from Manhattan: Occupying Wall Street—and Fifth Avenue

By Sharon Zukin
Until the early morning of November 15, a few hundred Occupy Wall Street protesters spent the chilly nights of a glorious autumn camping out in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. Despite Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s disapproval with their politics and under the New York City Police Department’s anxious eye, the occupiers captured public attention in a remarkably peaceful way. Regrouping for the winter, they will take stock of what they have achieved so far and the work that remains.

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Memo from Manhattan: Eye of the storm

By Sharon Zukin
Everyone knows by now that Tropical Storm Irene, which blew through the East Coast last weekend, flooded the beaches, suburbs and some inland towns but did little lasting damage in New York City. I have seldom felt so lucky to live on a high floor with no river view and on a street with very few trees.

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Memo from Manhattan:
Main Street, Greenwich Village

By Sharon Zukin

E. B. White was correct when he wrote more than sixty years ago that New York is a city of neighborhoods, and he was even more correct that every neighborhood has its own “little main street.” “No matter where you live,” he says, “you will find within a block or two a grocery store, a barbershop, a newsstand and shoeshine shack, an ice-coal-and-wood cellar.., a dry cleaner, a laundry, a delicatessen” and on to the “hardware store, a liquor store, a shoe-repair shop.” Except for the coal

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You’ve Been McGuggenized!

When my friend sent me a link with the subject line: Carmel in WSJ! I clicked with trepidation. The last time my hometown made national news it involved a sodomy hazing incident and the high school basketball team. Phew. It was only a minor dispute over an expensive new piece of suburban architecture:

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Memo From Amsterdam: On Living in an Old City

By Sharon Zukin

This winter I left my inland loft in Greenwich Village for an apartment on a canal in Amsterdam. From my desk in the living room I look out over the cold gray water and also, with a slight swivel of gaze, over the Amstel River itself. On this river at the beginning of December I saw Sint Niklaas, dressed less like a jolly Santa Claus and more like a stern Catholic bishop, arrive with a flotilla of small boats for the holiday season. On New Year’s Eve, my fellow city dwellers set off amateur fireworks that lighted the sky over the river for several hours.

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The Oxford Comment Archive

What’s The Oxford Comment? In Spring 2010, Lauren and Michelle decided it was time Oxford University Press got a podcast, and by September, The Oxford Comment was born. Reporting at special events, live on the street, and from the “studio,” each episode features commentary from Oxford authors and friends of the Press. “The Oxford Comment […]

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Essays to read with fear and delight

By Sharon Zukin
I have yet to hold the full collection in my hands, but like many North Americans I have read with fear and delight the essays from Tony Judt’s Memory Chalet, published in the New York Review of Books and the New York Times over the past two years. These are the most significant pieces of writing I read in 2010 and perhaps the most significant writing I am likely to read for the rest of my life.

Memory Chalet is Judt’s memoir, composed, dictated and published between his diagnosis with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2010, and his death soon after in 2010. It seems he did not write these essays for publication, but they speak to so many lives and concerns that this may be his most universal, most meaningful book. Certainly the essays are a memory chest for Judt’s children, but they are also a reckoning with his complicated heritage: privileged by intellect, promoted by

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Memo From Las Vegas: What’s the Matter with Casino Capitalism?

Tweet By Sharon Zukin Taking a position on Las Vegas is like taking an option on a company’s stock: if you like the place, you’re betting that free markets, human power over nature and boundless shopping opportunities will continue to rule the world.  If you don’t like it, you’re a killjoy…or a sociologist. I made […]

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Memo From Manhattan: On the Waterfront

By Sharon Zukin
The world’s biggest cities often spawn disaster scenarios—those end-of-the-world, escape-from-New-York exaggerations of urban dystopia. Once limited to printed texts and paintings, visions of urban apocalypse have become ever more accessible in newspaper photographs, movies and video games. They form a collective urban imaginary, shaping the dark side of local identity and civic pride.

New York is especially attractive as a site of imagined disaster. Maybe it’s payback for the city’s hubris and chutzpah, or perhaps there’s something in the American character that yearns for and fears creative destruction. If there is a general hunger for destruction stories, it is fed by the knowledge that the cities we build are vulnerable.

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Memo From Manhattan: Age and the City

By Sharon Zukin
I’ll tell you what’s “very strange”: the population of New York City is going to get a whole lot older very fast. The city’s age spread is now about the same as that of the U.S. population. Around 7% are children too young to go to school, almost 25% are under eighteen years of age and half as many (fewer than 12%) are over sixty-five.

But according to demographers’ projections, after 2010 New York will be a rapidly aging city. Some reasons for this are natural (baby boomers aging), others are social (medicine and changes in cultural practices keeping us alive longer) while still others are a mix of both (fertility rates declining). All in all, though, the city’s older population will increase dramatically in the next twenty years.

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Ep. 2 – GEEKS

In the second episode of The Oxford Comment, Lauren and Michelle celebrate geekdom. They interview a Jeopardy champion, talk sex & attraction with a cockatoo, discover what makes an underdog a hero, and “geek out” with some locals.

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Memo from Manhattan: The High Line at Dusk

By Sharon Zukin
Shortly before 8 p.m. on a warm September evening the High Line, Manhattan’s newest public park and the only one located above street level, is crowded. Men and women, old and young, tourists from overseas and longtime New Yorkers have climbed the winding metal stairs to the former railroad freight line, now a mile-long, landscaped walkway, just to view the sunset over the Hudson River. There are more people up on the High Line than down on the streets.

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Memo from Lower Manhattan: The Mosque

By Sharon Zukin
Of all the mosques, in all the towns, in all the world, why did this mosque cause a furor in this town? I’m speaking about Park51, an Islamic “community center promoting tolerance and understanding,” as its website says, which is being planned to replace an old five-story building in Lower Manhattan that formerly housed a Burlington Coat Factory store with a modern, thirteen-story multi-service facility modeled on Jewish community centers and the YMCA. The burning issue…

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