Author Imprint

S2017 E4 | CLIP

Jeremiah Moss Discusses New York's Hypergentrification

Ten years ago, Jeremiah Moss started a blog, "Vanishing New York" profiling local businesses that were closing. It's the inspiration for his book "Vanishing New York: How A Great City Lost Its Soul." He talks about the policies of hypergentrification and how to find a balance between preserving the old and making way for the new.

AIRED: November 16, 2017 | 0:05:50

>> Hi, I'm Maddie Orton,

and this is "Author Imprint,"

Today, we're talking to

Jeremiah Moss, the author of

"Vanishing New York:

How a Great City Lost Its Soul."

If the title sounds familiar,

"Vanishing New York" is also

the name of Jeremiah's blog,

where, for the past 10 years,

he's lamented what he calls

a city going extinct.


Jeremiah, thanks so much

for joining us.

>> Thank you.

>> So let's start

with the beginning.

You started the blog

10 years ago.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> What made you want

to do that?

I had really been noticing,

for a couple of years,

that the city was changing in

what felt like a different way.

So I've been here since '93,

and of course,

the city is always changing,

as people love to remind me,

but this felt like a different

level of change.

-- for me.

It was a personal sort of labor

of love in the beginning.

I had a lot of photographs from

the past and journal entries,

and so I started sort of, like,

just putting them up online,

>> And so what was the idea

behind the blog, then?

To say it's changing but pay

attention because this is

changing in a fundamental way?

I don't think, at that time,

I had really put together

why the city was changing

the way it was.

It was really more a memorial

at that point.

>> What was the reaction to the


So I started the blog in July.

By October, I was in

The New York Times.

I was profiled in theTimes,

and people really respond to it,

you know, and I think

it really touched a nerve.

And what I discovered

was that I certainly was not

alone in my feelings.

I just hadn't connected to those

people, but the Internet

enabled me to connect to people

>> You're also a

psychoanalyst, right?

>> Right, yep.

>> So, I mean, that's kind of an

interesting combination, to me,

the idea of putting to words

these feelings that people have

and working with people's

feelings professionally.

Do you find a tie there?

I think a lot

about empathy.

we can empathize

with the people of the city,

but we can also empathize

with the things of the city,

the architecture, the spaces,

the little shops and the little

place because they're human

spaces, you know.

And there's a way in which

I think that there's not a lot

of empathy for these things

in the city today.

>> So let's talk about why that


I mean, so you identify this

as hyper-gentrification

>> What do you think the reason

is for that?

So New York City,

up until the 1970s,

throughout the 20th century,

really started moving towards

becoming a social democracy.

putting its citizens first

rather than outside investors.

And, you know, then we had

this financial crisis

,the financial

crisis, you know, it's

complicated but, in large part,

was caused by white flight

and the movement of industry

also out to the suburbs,

which was socially engineered

itself, right?

So there are all these, like,

racist roots and classist roots.

But then, coming out of the

1970s, you have this shift,

which academics call the

neoliberal shift.

Neoliberalism is a tricky word

for people.

It's not new.

It's not liberal.

It just means basically a

belief, you know, in free-market

economics, that the

market will take care of

everybody, and money and

resources will trickle down.

-- You know,

Bloomberg was sort of like the

ultimate expression of this

New York.

He called the city "a luxury

product," and he thought of

New Yorkers not as citizens at

all but as consumers.

So hyper-gentrification is

largely -- It's basically urban

policy now.

>> The thing that I wonder

about, you know, somewhat waxing

nostalgic about a lost New York,

is, is there a worry of

glorifying maybe some of the not

great parts of New York?

I'm watching "The Deuce" right

now on HBO.

>> Right, mm-hmm.

>> And, you know, I think

a lot of people are.

It's great.

>> Sure.

>> But the idea of a New York

where there's a ton of

corruption and crime and

prostitution is rampant in

Times Square.

>> Right, right.

>> Is there a concern of

glorifying that?

I mean, have things progressed

in a positive way, too?

you know, what I say in my

book is, like, you know, the

city was dirty, and dirt is

fertile, and it is fertile.

there is something about

that time, and I think that's

why we're seeing so much

nostalgia right now for the

1970s, because the city has

become so sterilized.

You know, we're not talking

about balance anymore.

We're talking about the city

has gone out of balance.

Do you think that there is

a compromise that can be reached

where New York is a safer,

cleaner place but still holds

onto its soul?

>> I do think so.

You know, what happens, too,

in this black-and-white way

that people kind of get

their heads around it is you end

up in this false dichotomy,


And I think that that's just not


But what we do need to do is we

need to reregulate the city,

because the city that we see

today was created by policies.

>> What should people do?

there are a lot of

things we can do.

One thing we can do is we can

pass the Small-Business Job

Survival Act, right?

and it's a progressive

bill that would help businesses

when it comes time to renew

their leases that they get a

fair lease renewal.

I would love to see commercial

rent control come back.

A lot of people don't know

that New York City had

commercial rent control for

almost 20 years after

World War II, and that protected

businesses from these massive

rent hikes that we're seeing.

I think that's great.

You still have the blog going,

right, "Vanishing New York"?

>> I do, yep.

>> Vanishingnewyork.blogspot

.com, right?

>> Yeah, it's an old Blogspot.

>> Jeremiah, thanks so much for

being here.

>> Thank you.

>> I appreciate it.

Check out "Vanishing New York:

How a Great City Lost Its Soul"

wherever books are sold.

It might make you fall in love

with a New York you never knew.



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