These changes had been hidden at first through economic growth, but the recession that had started in 1974 left governments everywhere scrambling to fund their public services. Bankers and politicians alike seized upon the situation as evidence that social liberalism, which New York famously exemplified, was doomed to failure--and promised apocalyptic scenarios if the city didn't fire thousands of workers, freeze wages, and slash social services. Professor Phillips-Fein has written widely for publications including the Nation , London Review of Books , New Labor Forum , to which she has contributed articles and reviews. A good chronicle of the nyc fiscal crisis and what it felt like to be in the city in 1975. It was a period that saw a spike in rapes, assaults, robberies, burglaries, and car thefts and the murder rate doubled in a decade from 681 in 1965 to 1,690 in 1975. The decade of the 1970s saw moves away from the Great Society model of government which, abstractly, emphasized the responsibility of the government to provide services to its citizens that promoted equity to the vision of government that is so familiar to us today, that of a limited government whose role it is to keep 'Fear City' is a thorough overview of a significant turning point in the history of New York City and the United States, and the West, in general—the rise of austerity politics.
The anti-big-government culture that began to dominate in the 70s interpreted these large projects as nothing other than reckless spending. It stood for so much and was so important to the United States that surely, when push came to shove, the government would be there to support it. Sobering, smart reading with many pointed lessons for activists. Staff Reviews This book is a doozy, a colorful history of a specific time and place, which continues to have major implications today. Drawing on never-before-used archival sources and interviews with key players in the crisis, Fear City shows how the brush with bankruptcy permanently transformed New York—and reshaped ideas about government across America. And this drove conservatives nuts. New federal policies encouraged the middle class to flee the cities, drawn by tax incentives that favoured home ownership and new highways promoted commuting.
If you want to find the roots of modern conservatism, don''t look in Louisiana, Arizona, or rural Wisconsin. The detail may be a bit excessive. The cut backs with the police were so extreme that people started forming their own vigilante groups, like the Guardian Angels. Rather than help the city Gerald Ford, egged on by conservatives in his cabinet, and desiring to impress the right, outright stood in the way of the federal government stepping in to help. Lucid, elegantly written, full of new information, it belongs on the shelf of key books about the city, alongside The Power Broker , Gotham , and their like. At once a sweeping history of some of the most tumultuous times in New York's past, a gripping narrative of last-minute machinations and backroom deals, and an origin story of the politics of austerity, Fear City is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the resurgent fiscal conservatism of today.
Although there is some logic to this paradox, Phillips-Fein does not consider the pros and cons of such thinking except to say that the most needy are the ones punished by that way of thinking. How much better would generations of lives be today if taxpayers had made the investment in them? In one shift that now feels particularly portentous, in 1976 a government agency that had roots in low-income housing turned instead to commercial real estate, giving a sweetheart deal for a flashy midtown hotel to a brash young developer. At once a sweeping history of some of the most tumultuous times in the city's past, a colorful portrait of the unwieldy mechanics of municipal government, and an origin story of the politics of austerity, Fear City is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the resurgent fiscal conservatism of today. Look in New York, and read Kim Phillips-Fein''s superb Fear City. Although she is subtle in focusing on the crisis, her views mean that Republicans, including Donald Trump, emerge from the pages as villains. As Disney rose like the phoenix from Times Square, it was the early symbol that would ultimately and symbolically show the triumph of private enterprise shaping public good and public spaces. Extremely well written and impressively researched, Fear City is essential reading to understand how finance capital, real estate speculation, austerity budgeting, and punitive policing first came together to create the toxic politics of today.
In this vivid account, historian Kim Phillips-Fein tells the remarkable story of the crisis that engulfed the city. New York City in 1975 was therefore a test case for neoliberalism, a key precursor to the Reagan and Thatcher revolutions. Financial crisis is an endemic feature of capitalism. Yet the city was indeed billions of dollars in the red, with no way to pay back its debts. In this vivid account, historian Kim Phillips-Fein tells the remarkable story of the crisis that engulfed the city. Phillips-Fein chronicles not only the tense dance with municipal bankruptcy but the largely forgotten efforts by ordinary New Yorkers to stop the legal coup by local and national elites.
But while this worked in the short term, this introduced a dangerous new leverage point in city politics: at any time, the banks could refuse to stop selling municipal bonds and grind the city to a halt. Most readers will learn something. Yet the city was indeed billions of dollars in the red, with no way to pay back its debts. In this vivid, gripping account, historian Kim Phillips-Fein tells the remarkable story of the crisis that engulfed the city, forever transforming the largest metropolis in the United States and reshaping ideas about government throughout the country. The suffering that gripped New York in the 1970s now strangles Greece and Puerto Rico.
This is a history with huge implications for the remaking of American politics and economics in our time. Lucid, elegantly written, full of new information, it belongs on the shelf of key books about the city, alongside The Power Broker, Gotham, and their like. By October 29, 1975, New York Mayor Abraham Beame was in a car driving from Gracie Mansion to the Federal Courthouse in lower Manhattan, to file bankruptcy papers for New York City. Even Mayor Beame, originally a strong proponent of the liberal city, transformed himself during the crisis into a champion for pro-business interests such as tax breaks for Donald Trump. All of it tied together by the worlds most extensive and inexpensive mass transit system.
The economic policies of the Reagan administration would come just a few years after New York's nadir, and would personify this new approach. Despite the narrow focus of the book, it is easy to read. The major setback of the book is the want for more explanation behind each person's motive in their decision making and actions. In 1975, the city teetered on the brink of financial collapse, with no one eager to come to its rescue. Bankers and politicians alike seized upon the situation as evidence that social liberalism, which New York famously exemplified, was doomed to failure - and promised apocalyptic scenarios if the city didn't fire thousands of workers, freeze wages, and slash social services. In zeroing in on this little-understood chapter of urban history, Fear City helps sheds much-needed light on a range of contemporary crises, from the starvation of public services amidst enormous private wealth to the rise of Donald Trump. It warned tourists not to walk after six p.