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tv   How to Kill a City  CSPAN  March 26, 2017 11:00pm-12:02am EDT

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always had the slate. then i will be up in sacramento in the assembly of the senate and can be a congressman and the sky is the limit. no, that kind of person is not attracted to this model of electoral politics. >> can watch this and other programs on linux >> i think that we will go ahead and get started. thank you all for coming. we are excited to be here for the launch of how to kill a city. raise your hand if this is your first time to the book culture. i am so pleased to some of you have braved.
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we have been here for over two years and we are very excited to be here on the upper west side supporting these great importance works and i am so happy to have peter moscowitz here i loved this book and i think you will all love it, too mac. we do not charge admission so we would ask you to keep supporting great people and great work. for those of you that don't know his work, he is a freelance journalist who's covered a wide variety of issues from disasters to the racist urban planning. a former staff writer at al jazeera america he's written for the guardian, "new york times," others. he is a graduate at the school of journalism and joining him in moderating the discussion will
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be the host of the difficult to name reading series that brings together journalists and others. he is a writer and currently working on a novel. if you noticed booktv is here from c-span and they will be recording. after the talking portion if you could wait for me to come and find you and give you a microphone so that way they can hear you, also. that's everything i need. let's welcome peter. [applause] [cheering] hello, everyone. thanks for coming. i took the train to the upper west side and it makes me feel like i'm in high school again. so basically i wrote how to kill
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a city because i was interested and couldn't explain it or find a good explanation for it. i grew up in the west village. my parents still live there and i kind of saw it change before my eyes from a middle-class place for artists and young professionals and oligarchs. then when i came back from college i couldn't afford to live there anymore so i ended up moving to brooklyn and found myself on the other side of that process. i knew i was helping displaced people and i was getting the same glances on the street i would give to new people in my old neighborhood like why the hell are you here. and i really didn't have an answer to that so that's why i wrote the book. i decided to look at the
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gentrification in four cities which are in new orleans, detroit, san francisco and new york and i spent a month living in each. the book takes you through each city and introduces you to a host of characters like people that are being gentrified out, activists against gentrification, developers and politicians who are pro- gentrification. you get a lot of statistics along the way. and it's not just about a hipster in a coffee shop but there is a personal strategy included in what the government to help the cities are funded and in a way that disadvantages the buck. so there is a lot of that. but i wanted to read from a narrative section. reading out loud is probably boring so i want to read from
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the detroit section. just to give you a little context, it's kind of an exodus and it's what developers call as building up the new condo and the rest of the city is just being forgotten so that is the term you will hear which means point square miles of greater downtown so that gives you a sense of how small an area they are focusing on. she is black and navigates the two worlds. until recently a community engagement loveland developed
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software that allows the city of detroit along with anyone else with an internet connection to get detailed information about any piece of land in the city, the owner, the status and there needs to be demolished and also a photograph. the technology is used by the city and major players including for some context the owner of quicken loans has approximately 90 in the greater downtown and is now renovating most of them. she told me her work left her feeling unfulfilled and recently quite so she occupied the state and is part of the professional city and lives at 7.2 but is other a part of detroit that's being pushed out of the city by by the government and the legacy
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of racism. a fourth generation needed her parents were part of the black middle-class adult detroit and her mom worked as an administrator for the government and her father for gm and the have seen their detroit nearly disappear as it now takes shape seemingly overnight. i made up this character that told me on a recent drive that goes from downtown, midtown and out when people are like all this development is good, i said it's good for those like you but is it good for ms. jenkins, the woman that has been here for decade after decade that owns a home on the east side all of these are good which one are they good for. on the way out of mid-town was an apartment located a block
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away from the hockey arena and complex. she points to the tracks that are being laid for the streetcar that only goes like 2 miles to buildings that are being converted. then as we got farther and farther away she points to a different kind of things. when i was growing up all these places were occupied, she said. all these people had solid jobs. what happened? it turned more and more desolate until it was dark and there was nothing open on either side of the road. the drivers seemed concerned only with going further north. eventually they turned left into a neighborhood near southern mile and areas filled with
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dilapidated housing and she then made another turn down a residential street where the plywood chains and padlocked reflected from the doors and houses without the plywood were already scavenged and turned into shopping with one piece of shelf that'll do. out of place in the neighborhood of most industrial american cities it showed dk and cracked windows and at least she said it was occupied as she told me this is where i grew up. she comes to check on the house of every kind of speaks to remid herself that she's fighting for and says it is her responsibility to make sure it doesn't fall apart like other houses data. think about how this happened. we didn't notice the people leaving and properties
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deteriorating. it could be her own mother. they were closed in as many of the friends left in 2013 a group of teenagers ran up and carried groceries from the car to the house. i think that i have ptsd speaking from a suburb the level just increased day by day. we had to get out of there. morgan is not a conspiracy theorist but struggled to find off of a logic of the city which
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people are forgotten while on detroit. maybe that was the idea all along. after pausing for a minute in the center of the city if the drive out made it feel like nothing but drive back was like it was constructed in real time. sidewalks becoming yellow and the blue shopping centers and gas stations. there was a brief wall as we went through highland park within the borders and fire department alarm systems. rather quickly after that you could see in real time you cross
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back and it was as if we entered luxury tightly sealed the borders. this is where people that could afford it lived the good life. i was turning into the hunger games. they might as well put a barbed wire fence around it and people can fight for the scraps. [applause] >> it was interesting reading the book because you hear something like gentrification and think it is going to be dry or complicated. but you do a good job of making it understandable to the reader and breaking down the different parts and then you spend all the time in these cities and these are good profiles of the people
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that are living there so it is kind of taking away the element of how did you figure out the schedule and going about writing the book? >> i knew this wasn't an issue just affecting new york. it made it seem unknowable and like a random phenomenon like all of a sudden the whole prices are rising and no one was connecting the dots. i knew i wanted to see it in places it's just starting in places like detroit and new
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orleans and places like san francisco where it is pushing out entire populations. i chose them because they had the different phases of gentrification and i knew that in order to show what was happening, i would need to connect with local people because obviously they are the ones experiencing it firsthand and i didn't want to write a boring book. it wasn't meant to be a textbook it was meant to be something that people like me who read a million battl battle pieces abot gentrification or whatever.
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one thing pointed out in san francisco they had a marketing company that basically filters down and abandoned "the new york times" ends up writing about it. i don't know if that is almost nefarious in the way that it is publicized as this kind of beautiful thing for the city all the time and that nitty-gritty effective things that are not written about as much. >> when you see something like "the new york times" piece how detroit is, before that there was maybe a year ago a nonprofit funded by the city government working with small business owners that happened to all be a way to come together to put out positive articles about detroit and then jus death turns into a local media story and then
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that's eventually picked up by "the new york times," so the narrative is being crafted. >> to take away i have from the book is there's also things people can do to stop the gentrification but it seems like it's always the same thing like you can't just send in articles. you have to go to these community board meetings and get involved. >> is there a way to be lazy and still fight gentrification? >> no. the overall solution is to overthrow capitalism. i think when we talk about if we are talking about the form of globalization and capitalism so there are people working on housing issues for years and years before and there were
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people working on this stuff for years and years so when we think of it as a new thing, we are ignoring all of this for the entire history of the united states so i think it means acknowledging that it's not just about the new phenomenon and then linking it with the people that know how to fight and that have been fighting these battles for decades. this team that i feel like they are the people who will say you have to lift yourself up by your bootstraps, but in your buck you explain how they get so many tax subsidies and spend billions and billions of dollars funding these real estate projects so they don't have to pay taxes for ten years. how do you think that can be publicized? you don't hear about these
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things in the news. >> the first thin >> the first thing you have to understand is for decades, the government has been subsidizing the white middle class through housing. we consider it a natural thing that happens but what actually happened is the government insuring mortgages for people in the suburbs would demand the people that get the mortgages being white and the houses be suburban style and no one in the cities get them so what that essentially did is create an entire new class of people that live in the suburbs and could take their money and invest it in housing and have capital that way so now we are seeing all of that capital that accumulated running back into the cities. so that's where the kind of inequality comes from what
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people have been denied the ability to get the same kind of housing and capital so it's not just a matter of who wants to live where but it's inequality in this country. >> and also thinking about people that grew up in the suburbs and the west village where you just kind of knew everybody in the neighborhood like me growing up in the suburbs like i don't talk to my neighbors so you live in the neighborhood where i feel like it's so i'm not used to talking to my neighbors but i'm trying to get better at that and it's almost like the fact the government has so much to do with this. >> it's this situation of isolation and that becomes the opposite of what you write about in a great city and a great neighborhood.
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>> i think obviously waving at your neighbor isn't a solution to gentrificatiothe solutionto y it is a start if you have like some radical thought behind it and if you're trying to build communities and take responsibility for the place you put yourself in and acknowledge you are part of a neighborhood and not just living in a condo like to reevaluate how you consider your life in the journey and everything or is it about being part of a community so i think it can be part of that. >> you also write about how the community board nine, could you tell people a little about her? >> it's this great woman that lives in prospect garden and has lived there about 30 years needy and she realized that all the
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neighborhoods around her were being gentrified really rapidly and she had a lot of research and realized the first step was the local community board submitting a request to the planning department to evaluate a rezoning because once the city planning department because they are pro- gentrification, once they start the review then they are bound to say let's redevelop all of this in the entire neighborhood. so she realized that she prevented the border from ever requesting reconsideration that they couldn't get the process startestarted so she goes to evy board meeting and yells at them like really loudly cursing with the camera at the community board members until they get mad at her and slip and say something stupid and then she
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records them and they get kicked off the committee for it. [laughter] some people think she is crazy or out of control and she said i know exactly what i'm doing. this strategy is the only thing keeping the community from being redeveloped. it's one of the only brooklyn neighborhoods that hasn't been considered for zoning. another thing is how a lot of cities that have different unique things are kind of all becoming very similar. do you think that there is a way to kind of stop that from happening? >> i think as another journalist wrote about like the airspace which is like air bmb and all these coffee shops that look exactly the same where it essentially because there is a
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class of people that is mobile between the cities and london and new york and san francisco we are just creating neighborhoods in every single city and the scariest version of that is this co- working space and they are trying to build an ecosystem you can travel anywhere and they all look the same so i think that it's -- i think it is when you think about this idea like a global class of people that has that type of place and that's what the neighborhoods are for. >> what is interesting is when you try to explain a situation
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but do you think of the book as being prescriptive and saying here's what we need to do to fight this? >> a little bit. there are comments and solutions and in the back of the book it has ten or 15 or something things that need to be done, just simple step dislike that. once you add all of the steps it starts to look like socialism. all these small things look good but we needed a new system that doesn't create this massive inequality in the first place. >> i am encouraged by people
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protesting and if you think of the gentrification and rent increases, the association is like the number two lobbyist yet you never see campaigns against them like you do with the corporations. housing is their number one living expense. the idea of private property is hard to politicize so that makes me less hopeful as they political thing it is not just where i live but i've encouraged people are starting to realize that things are messed up right now. >> it also seems when you asked
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the city i if your apartment is rent stabilized that seems wrong. can you explain to everybody how that works? >> i filed a letter saying can you check my apartment and basically because they took so long to process the application we were waiting a year to find out because my landlord won't sign a lease for me until it is
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over. >> i think that we will open up for questions. >> thank you very much for the discussion. jeffrey at columbia says it is the interest rate that agreed it drives people as well as private equity which fires the company employees and then sends the jobs wherever. it is a global problem happening everywhere but right out of the front door of the store where
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landlords gain upon people and it was three or four weeks ago that meir announced he will supply lawyers to people in housing court. if there is approximately 260,000 people that have been evicted in the last ten years does that sound about right for you that was under bloomberg's watch. >> [inaudible] >> this is booktv -- >> i am anti-the policy of. he promised to fix the tale of
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two cities but tired of the branch as the housing economic used to be two offices that makes sense and now they are one office so she is trying to simultaneously develop the ideas to gentrified them and find affordable housing for people providing lawyers for people but the problem is a larger problem.
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the gentrification between new orleans and hurricane katrina i thought the timing suggested that there would be a consequence -- >> i wanted to look at new orleans. hurricane katrina gave the city and the state of louisiana a one-of-a-kind opportunity. there were 100,000 in the city anthan there were before the katrina.
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there was a euphemism like we don't need game show watchers. even though it wasn't damaged by the storm. they had one-way tickets and didn't provide them a way to return. >> you said you talked to somebody and you could go back to new orleans. >> someone i interviewed said she lied and said she was staying in atlanta. now ten years later, they are richer than ever a but the rent
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has doubled and meanwhile they are saying look how far we have come in making the city a better place. >> can you talk about how the charter system works and how they work. >> the governor of louisiana created a new system to evaluate schools. >> basically every school except for ten plus shuts down and turned into a charter school.
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the. they were all hired and create nonprofits like teach for america i and they reemploy the school district so it was a quick way to bring people in. >> there's been a decrease in crime since the mid-90s and definitely in san francisco and new york.
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does that have anything to do with the rising home and rent prices into this sort of pattern of gentrification? >> a lot of times when the cities want to redevelop the. it's the first time they can move into a neighborhoods of new york city has increased its police force tremendously and i'm sure if you lived here for a while you would see more all the time. that hasn't reduced crime it's displaced it's like crying going hand-in-hand so if you go to the suburbs of new jersey is all over the place, decreasing slowly but the huge drops in crime are just from essentially
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people being policed out of the city and placed into other places. >> right here. >> in your book do you talk about the qualities and then where are the displaced people going and what does their life look like right now? like what qualifies and can any white person move into a formerly black neighborhood and can it be somebody that moves from one city to another. do you talk about that in the book or can you speak to that now? >> i think why it happens is usually because the legacy of housing in the country and the
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only reason a lot of people afford to move to cities with their parents money is because their parents essentially were gifted housing by the government and able to build a nest egg to get their kids to go to college to start a life in the city. do i think there are gentrifiers of other races, sure but it not the same when you look at it systemically because of that history. i'm sorry i forgot the second question. suburban poverty is increasing faster. if you look at the suburbs in san francisco or new york, that's where you will see a lot of times it is hard to track. instead let's say you are an
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immigrant to the country you don't move to new york any more you move to where my dad is from or are you movwere you move to f california where there's nothing except the desert and farms eventually so we are not seeing that displacement being tracked but when the next time this happens we are going to see a huge increase in in the suburban and the poverty. >> we talk about young adults moving to places like new york as a way to take hold of the professional opportunity. if you are aware of us still want to move to a city to
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advance your career, how would someone reconcile with the fact? i feel like it automatically makes you a gentrifiers so what are some of the things you can do in these areas? >> i would say two things. if you want to be an adult professional in the first place is that a celibate lifestyle -- [laughter] and if you do want to do that, the organizations that have been trying for decades like when i talk to those at the gentrification network and there are people that consider themselves guilty that all of
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these people recognize that it's a systemic problem. >> considering that there's millions and millions of dollars and any other activists doesn't, how do you plan to fight against all that in other words, how do you see yourself winning the gentrification? >> it is a larger battle. it's about the entire legacy of
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u.s. racism and i know that sounds really broad but it creates these huge inequalities, so i don't think they will just when that they will hook up with anti-prison activists that we can build a broad coalition of power that challenge imperialism and corporatism that i am not hopeful to be honest that it's going to go anywhere. >> you mentioned i'm curious
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what do you think will happen over the next few years with donald trump and ben carson and how that will exacerbate the problem. >> it is a big picture view. 50 years ago, the upper incomes in that country, the taxes are double what they are now so that is how a lot of things happened and now that they are tasked with the word there's no federal money for things like a subway or public housing. that's how they got the idea in the first place. when you see ben carson and they have these funds cut to the
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authority and they will try to lower them even more for the rich and all that will do it essentially makes the city's more reliant on the gentrification strategies so you will see more. theoretically they could say we are not going to do that and they could come up with a radical way to fight the federal government, but that isn't going to happen. >> you also mentioned the use of the text up to 90%. >> right here. you mentioned you wanted to look beyond just new york city because he wanted to paint a full picture of gentrification.
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were there any cities that did not make it into the book or other areas that you want to talk about? >> i think that is happening everywhere. portland, seattle, upton, every city is trying the redevelopment because if you are a government city and look at what has happened in downtown detroit, why wouldn't you want more people in the downtown area and higher tax base in the city. so people are looking at these examples and new york from a financial standpoint and government financial standpoint looks way better than it did four years ago and they are just kind of copying and pasting the strategy onto their own cities.
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i wish i got to talk a little bit more about that and how the corporate takeover in housing isn't only happening in the cities but it's a kind of global problem that the banks are coming in and buying up the mom and pop states and if you go to the random suburbs and places where the foreclosure happens they were bought up by huge banks and other financial companies that raised their rates dramatically but i wish i got to talk a little bit more about that in the book. >> right back there. last question. >> just to follow up on a air
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bnb, it makes the argument that someone might be living in a neighborhood that is expensive and they can rent out a bedroom in their apartment and make a good amount of money from that. but on the economic side might it be beneficial to people, and what do you think of that? >> anything can be economically beneficial that anybody that lives in that neighborhood and has their rent increased they can get a third job and start driving for uber. it doesn't make the company god, it's sad people have to do that in order to live a normal life. so, i have considered air bnb in my own apartments to be honest. it's not because i think that it's a great idea that because it would make it easier to live.
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so, yes, we all have to make these decisions. we are all part of the system that we are trying to fight against and i don't think it makes someone a bad person to air bnb their apartment, but it's not good either. >> buy a copy of the book. [applause]
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was an industrial powerhouse in those days, something i had no idea of when i lived there. it had textile factories, sugar refineries, dozens of breweries innovated entrepreneurs of the 19th and early 20th century, brookland invented checklists, benjamin and more to cite just a few and in 1849, you will like this one, a chemist, one of the many german immigrants to arrive
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in the period opened to become what would be one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world you probably know and were there to. over the years, companies employed millions of immigrants in the business groups dot accommodate them. but it is the fickle in the second half of the 20th century. the factors that sustained so many americans started to leave not for china and mexico as is the case today but for far less crowded and more truck friendly suburbs. it was every red blooded by
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taking the beloved baseball te team. by the 1960s the war front was becoming a sad empty shell of its former self. in 1966 it has th was the larged best-known employer to be commissioned. about a mile away from the guard, it was home to a few operating warehouses but the empty buildings filled with the occasional body that has been reportedly dumped by one of brooklyn's legendary wiseguys. there were still plenty of haulover's at the time that we moved in from the earlier waves of immigrants.
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our next-door neighbors were an elderly irish couple who had once taken in the borders as so many dead in a brownstone areas during the depression and in the decades following. they were now being paid by the city of new york to house the elderly. many of them were sick and moaning and that was the musical accompaniment of my children's early years years. they were losing population and they would say about this time you heard it over and over we've got to get out of brooklyn. and you know what, a lot of people did. so, the question that i had in my mind as i approached this book is how did the old brooklyn become the new brookland place
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that gq magazine called, and i still can't get past this without laughing about the coolest city on the planet? how is it that when i moved here they have cages to protect their cashiers and they now have picture windows and free tastings of their expensive collections? how could we have gotten to the point in history as we did in the fall of 2015 where the department store spent a month celebrating brooklyn mania within exhibit, how could the only parisian speak piece of interested in buying products either made in brooklyn or seeming as though they could be worn or eaten by a brooklynite or a parisians idea. and one final question, why should anyone care what happened
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to proclaim? the place isn't even a city, it is a bitter row that has 200,000 people in a city of 8 million come in a country of 330 million, what's the big deal? i try to show in the book it is a microcosm of the social changes that have been ruling our politics and it should be mentioned the politics of western europe. over the past 30 or 40 years, advanced economies of like that in the united states have been shifting away from the manufacturing towards knowledge, information or thinking about stuff. new york city is already becoming the capital of the economy by the 1960s as the corporations centralized and
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moved their headquarters to downtown and midtown. by the end of the 60s, 59% of the labor force was in white-collar occupations. this gave new york a competitive advantage over the other fading industrial cities. most of the people that were white-collar work predominantly men who were working downtown and took the train into dick van dyke and mary tyler moore, who i did want to mention today, but a few of those white-collar workers especially the more creative types start moving into the largely working class brownstone brooklyn. they were gentrified to use a word that only became popular many decades later. brooklyn heights, cobble hill, perhaps you can trace those a little bit on your map.
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these were lovely 19th century brownstone neighborhoods that had gone into disrepair. over the next decades, the number of white-collar workers increased as did the number and variety of white-collar jobs in new york. york. government was expanding and sober colleges and universities and a long way for them, jobs for lawyers, administrators and professors. by 2000, technology was opening new creative young including occupations people had never heard of before. the operator operators at the ds sugar refinery may be gone but the new brookland has many thousands of web designers, developers and social media. the house next door to me that i referred to earlier is a perfect illustration of the shift from the altar to the new knowledgeable economy.
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it is gentrification in a single brownstone. i already mentioned there was an elderly irish couple living there. her husband who like other immigrants had a civil service job and had been a postal worker while his wife had been in charge of the border as i mentioned before. fast forward 15 years. the house was sold, renovated and divided into condominiums. marble bathrooms, granite counters, the whole deal. the first people to move in with people that you never would have met in the old brooklyn, an architect and his wife, a furniture designer, an editor and her husband also an editor at a music magazine. a wall street trader moved in soon after with his wife, a
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freelance writer and their three children. same block, same house, old brooklyn, new brookland. >> you can watch this and other programs on linux but it works.
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the last time i gave a talk like this wants to my daughters pre- k. class of three and four year olds and it's about the constitutional professor does and like a good professor, i made up a powerpoint slide, i had one with the u.s. capitol and one with the supreme court and one of the white house. after about five minutes, i opened up for questions and the first question was why do you du have a wail on your shirt [laughter] i hope i can do a better job of eliciting questions from you about my book then why there isn't a whale on my shirt this time. [laughter] an argument in the book is that liberalism was founded and
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thrived as an opposition movement. before i make that argument and delve into it, i want to give background on the book. i got the idea when i was living at 1920 northwest which is only about two blocks from the house of truth that is still standing at 172,719th street northwest between corcoran street. i was reading the bibliographical notes by a great historian on his biography of oliver wendell holmes and he said that not a lot has been written about the interaction between oliver wendell holmes and his young friends from the house of truths and that's sent off a light bulb in my head and i thought i can finish this book in two or three years with a little bit of research. ..
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>> professor lisa servon talks about untraditional banking in her book "the unbanking of america." she worked as a teller and observes how the new methods are serving consumers. she is interviewed by rohit chopra. >> welcome to booktv. my name is rohit chopra. i will be talking to professor lisa servon the author of "the unbanking of america: how the new middle class survives" which was just released this month. lisa, thank you for being here. let's start. why did you write the book? who is it actually written for? >> guest: that is a great question. i wrote the bock in a nutshell because i could not understand originally why if alternative


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