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Bloomberg's New York

Class and Governance in the Luxury City

Julian Brash

Publication Year: 2011

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg claims to run the city like a business. In Bloomberg’s New York, Julian Brash applies methods from anthropology, geography, and other social science disciplines to examine what that means. He describes the mayor’s attitude toward governance as the Bloomberg Way—a philosophy that holds up the mayor as CEO, government as a private corporation, desirable residents and businesses as customers and clients, and the city itself as a product to be branded and marketed as a luxury good.
Commonly represented as pragmatic and nonideological, the Bloomberg Way, Brash argues, is in fact an ambitious reformulation of neoliberal governance that advances specific class interests. He considers the implications of this in a blow-by-blow account of the debate over the Hudson Yards plan, which aimed to transform Manhattan’s far west side into the city’s next great high-end district. Bringing this plan to fruition proved surprisingly difficult as activists and entrenched interests pushed back against the Bloomberg administration, suggesting that despite Bloomberg’s success in redrawing the rules of urban governance, older political arrangements—and opportunities for social justice—remain.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation


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p. v

List of Illustrations

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p. vii

List of Abbreviations

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p. ix

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pp. xi-xii

It is only after producing a work such as this that one fully realizes how misconceived the notion of sole authorship is. The ultimate responsibility for the arguments, along with any errors or misconceptions, in this book is mine alone. Nevertheless, it would have been impossible to complete this work without the support and aid of many dozens of people. ...

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pp. 1-23

As of early September 2001, Michael Bloomberg's campaign to be elected New York City's 108th mayor was in trouble. The billionaire ex—chief executive officer (CEO) of the media and financial services company Bloomberg LP had pitched himself to voters based on the notion that his enormous business success uniquely qualified him to be mayor. Despite the media-driven hagiography ...

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CHAPTER 1. The Neoliberalization of Governance in New York City

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pp. 24-54

The story of New York City's contemporary transformation is a familiar one. The prevalent mainstream narrative tells of the city's descent into disorder and crisis in the 1970s and its reemergence in the following decades as an economic powerhouse and a center of tourism, cultural production, and consumption. But critical urbanists have constructed a counternarrative of this period, which ...

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CHAPTER 2. Electing the CEO Mayor

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pp. 55-74

Daniel Doctoroff's leadership of NYC2012 represented the first time a member of the city's ascendant TCC became directly engaged in the city's governance. However, NYC2012 operated largely out of public view, and Doctoroff's influence derived from his connections among the city's elite. He did not, in other words, translate wealth, cultural power, and social ties into a popular following. ...

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CHAPTER 3. Running Government like a Business

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pp. 75-99

In their seminal how-to guide to entrepreneurial governance, David Osborne and Ted Gaebler flatly state that "government cannot be run like business" (1993, 21). While urging public administrators and politicians to pursue market-based reforms, they make it clear that there are fundamental differences in the functions, internal incentives, missions, and norms of government and business. ...

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CHAPTER 4. The Luxury City

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pp. 100-129

By summer 2002, the elements were in place for the administration to prepare "all of New York to compete, and win" (Bloomberg 2004). The CEO mayor had put the "right people" in place, drawing on the best offered by the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. He had established clear benchmarks and methods of measurement that would allow for the evaluation of performance. ...

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CHAPTER 5. The Bloomberg Way

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pp. 130-143

This, then, was the Bloomberg Way: the mayor as CEO, the city government as a corporation, valued businesses as clients, citizens as customers, and the city itself as a product. While corporate language and management practices in government have become more common in recent decades, the Bloomberg administration was more than inflected or influenced by the corporate experience ...

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CHAPTER 6. Far West Side Stories

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pp. 144-166

If Lower Manhattan is haunted by office towers that once were, the far west side of Manhattan is haunted by office towers that are yet to be. The area west of Eighth Avenue between roughly Thirtieth and Fifty-ninth streets has long been targeted by New York City elites as a site for the expansion of the midtown Manhattan CBD. From the 1920s onward, the city's most powerful real estate ...

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CHAPTER 7. Why the RPA Mattered

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pp. 167-198

On the warm summer evening of August 4, 2004, I walked down Ninth Avenue with Anthony Borelli, the district manager of CB4, whose leaders were at the forefront of the opposition to the Hudson Yards plan. It was almost 10 p.m., and we were looking for a spot to grab a hamburger and a beer after spending several hours in a small conference room with most of the ...

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CHAPTER 8. The Logic of Investment

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pp. 199-233

Though the Bloomberg administration spent a good deal of time, money, and energy on selling the Hudson Yards plan as an example of good planning, its primary justification for the plan was its economic impact. The Bloomberg administration incorporated the Hudson Yards plan into the luxury city strategy, constructing the plan and presenting its economic benefits in a way that ...

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CHAPTER 9. The Bloomberg Way and Its Others

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pp. 234-253

Up to this point, I have made much of the rationalistic, technocratic, and calculative aspects of the Bloomberg Way. Whether celebrating technical expertise or avowing that the "facts are the facts," Mayor Bloomberg and his key aides presented themselves as hardheaded, realistic, and pragmatic. Yet this rationalism was leavened by seemingly incongruous elements — for example, the ...


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pp. 254-280


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pp. 281-292


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pp. 293-324


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pp. 325-342

E-ISBN-13: 9780820337548
E-ISBN-10: 0820337544
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820335667
Print-ISBN-10: 0820335665

Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 5 b&w photos, 2 maps
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation
Series Editor Byline: Nik Heynen, Deborah Cowen, and Melissa W. Wright, Series Editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 706077290
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Bloomberg's New York

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Subject Headings

  • Elite (Social sciences) -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Urban renewal -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Bloomberg, Michael.
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Politics and government -- 1951-.
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