The More Things Change…

BLAST FROM THE PAST: For the wonkiest of New York City history lovers among us, this essay in Guernica by Kanishk Tharoor, comparing the Occupy Wall Street movement and modern-day society at large with a 19th-century author’s lamentations about the glaring gap between the rich and the poor, is a must-read. More than 100 years separate the two sources of material, but the questions at the heart of both struggles are surprisingly similar. “Who should have access to the city?” Tharoor asks. “What is the purpose of public space? Should only the doyens of the market have the power to decide the structure of urban life? Or should, in some fashion, the rest of us?” He goes on to explore what makes an ideal city, and his answer is difference — but that kind of progress-making disparity has disappeared from many parts of the city due to (shudder) gentrification. As a result, “the ideal New Yorker has no past and no background,” the author adds, “only a wallet and a will to buy.” Now there’s a self-esteem boost to start your week off right. [Via Guernica]

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