Introduction. After the Urban Crisis: New York and the Rise of Inequality

Themis Chronopoulos (Editor), Jonathan Soffer (Editor)

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The introduction to this special section argues that the deconstruction of the city’s municipal social democracy was overdetermined by shifts in the global political economy toward increased income inequality and the depoliticization of national economic management. The city’s creditors forced it into an ideologically-motivated program of market discipline that cut its operating budget as the city’s economy financialized, defined by Greta Krippner as “the tendency for profit making in the economy to occur increasingly through financial channels rather than through productive activities.” The city’s leaders believed that their program would revive the city for the middle class. But financialization exacerbated income inequality. In 1970, the top 0.01 percent of earners made fifty times the average income; by 1998, that figure had increased to 250 times the average income. In 2013 Mayor Michael Bloomberg commented that: “If we could get every billionaire around the world to move here, it would be a godsend that would create a much bigger income gap,” which, he argued, was good for the whole city, because it would raise its tax base. The four articles of this section are part of a new and growing body of historical works about New York City since the 1970s that challenge the linear narratives of concepts such as neoliberalism, gentrification, public space, law and order, and resistance by reviewing how ordinary New Yorkers coped with declining infrastructure, services, standards of living, and increasing inequality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-863
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Urban History
Issue number6
Early online date27 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • New York City
  • Inequality
  • Urban Crisis
  • Neoliberalism

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