Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul

A proudly cranky Massachusetts transplant, Jeremiah Moss came to New York City in the early '90s hoping to find a little of the punk edginess of the '70s and '80s or even the freewheeling Beat cool of the '50s and '60s. Instead, he watched the East Village gentrify into a trendy suburbia where "pastrami and chopped liver would be replaced by Buffalo hot wings and cheese sticks." Vanishing New York is a collection of his blogs tracing the "hypergentrification" of the city once home to the dreams of the rebel young, the "poets, punks, and queers, activists and anarchists, dominatrices and drug addicts, graffitists, nudists, and underground cartoonists." True to his pen name, his blogs are a jeremiad against city planners (e.g., Robert Moses), mayors (e.g., Michael Bloomberg) and developers (e.g., Donald Trump) who bulldozed, rezoned and condo-ized the Jane Jacobs city of neighborhood blocks and storefronts into one of "cupcakes, cronuts, and hundred-dollar doughnuts dipped in 24-karat gold."

Working neighborhood by neighborhood, Moss writes like a war correspondent tallying battle casualties: the Village, the Bowery, the Meatpacking District, Chelsea, the Hudson Yards, Harlem and Brooklyn. He leans to feet-on-the-street observations, but also digs into the history of the powerful who oversaw and engineered the city's downfall--especially his nemesis Bloomberg. Moss quotes the Daily News on the 10th anniversary of 9/11: "Our city suffered two tragedies a decade ago: the 9/11 attacks and the election of Mayor Bloomberg. The former tried to destroy New York City; the latter succeeded." Vanishing New York is an entertainment as much as it is a polemic. Angry--sure. Funny--you bet. And oh so astute. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

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