We’re honored by Barry Goldberg’s review of Contested City in The Metropole, in which he calls the book a model “to untangle the sticky legacies of urban renewal” and to “illustrate the complex definitions of “community” and the intangible meanings — cultural, psychological, and emotional — embedded in physical space.” Read on below for an excerpt of the review, or read the whole thing here.

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Art, History, And Urban Contestation: A Review Of Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani’s Contested City

Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, Contested City: Art and Public History as Mediation at New York’s Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2018).
Reviewed by Barry Goldberg

In 1965, the New York City Board of Estimate, an eight-member body that once had authority over the city’s budget and land-use matters, but has since been declared unconstitutional, approved a plan to create the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA). At the time, the site was one of lower Manhattan’s most racially and ethnically diverse communities, a fourteen-block area of small businesses and tenements in the heart of New York’s Lower East Side. Over 1,850 families lived there and roughly 80% were low-income. In 1967, the city took possession of — and began to demolish — the old SPURA buildings. Housing authorities provided a written guarantee to displaced residents that they would have priority rights to one of the roughly 1,800 new apartments built on the site. …



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