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In Gotham's Shadow

Globalization and Community Change in Central New York

Alexander R. Thomas

Publication Year: 2003

In what may be the first explicitly comparative study of the effects of globalization on metropolitan and rural communities, In Gotham’s Shadow examines how three central New York communities struggled over the last half century to survive in a global economy that seems to have forgotten them. Utica, formerly a city of one hundred thousand, experienced the same trends of suburbanization, deindustrialization, and urban renewal as nearly every American city, with the same mixed results. In Cooperstown and Hartwick, two small villages forty miles south of Utica, the same trends were at work, though with different outcomes. Hartwick may be seen as an example of how small towns have lost their core, while Cooperstown may be seen as an example of how a small town can survive by transforming itself into a tourist destination. Thomas provides extensive historical background mixed with newspaper excerpts and lively interviews that add a human dimension to the transformations these communities have experienced.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix

Newspapers and Their Abbreviations

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pp. xi

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pp. xiii-xv

In Gotham’s Shadow is the result of my own homecoming. I spent six years as a graduate student in Boston, Massachusetts, and during that time my own perception of the world changed. I came to think of major cities as those with fully developed subways and city centers that could be conceptually divided up with names such as “the financial district,” the “Back Bay,” and “the Fens.” ...

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Chapter 1 One Summer Day

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pp. 1-14

It was a warm Saturday afternoon in the summer of 2001. The state office building loomed over the concrete plaza below, across the street from the Radisson Hotel in the heart of Utica, New York. A block away, the stately steeple of Grace Church stood illuminated by the afternoon sun and cast its shadow on the fifteen-story Adirondack Bank building. And yet, for all the warmth of a Saturday afternoon, the downtown streets were empty. ...

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Chapter 2 An American Story

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pp. 15-31

For thousands of years, central New York was home to the Mohawk, Oneida, and Onondaga tribes. Part of the larger Iroquoian cultural group, they had first arrived in the Great Lakes region about 4000 B.C.E. (Tuck 1977). During the late sixteenth century five Iroquoian tribes, the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca, formed the Iroquois Confederacy in order to bring peace to the territory and defend against attack from other Iroquoian and Algonquian tribes.1 ...

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Chapter 3 Loom to Boom

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pp. 33-44

A period of history rarely begins when it says it does. The events of the 1950s were the direct result of the fact that “by 1919, two-thirds of Utica’s gainfully employed were working in clothing and textile factories” (Bean 1994: 216). The fall of the industry was thus from a lofty height...

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Chapter 4 On the Road

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pp. 45-53

At the end of World War II, neither Cooperstown nor Hartwick had grown into the great cities envisioned by their creators. Hartwick village never surpassed one thousand residents. Cooperstown peaked at 2,909 people in 1930 and has lost population in every census since 1950. Cooper’s (1936) boasts of a city rivaling Buffalo proved pathetically optimistic; Hartwick’s dense Lutheran citadel was rather a sparsely settled, predominantly Calvinist town. ...

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Chapter 5 Sin City

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pp. 55-70

The urban growth machine of the 1950s in Utica was a coalition between the political machine and the business elite. By 1957, Utica appeared to be on the way to a full recovery from the economic dislocations of the previous ten years. The metropolitan area was home to the first commercial computer in the world, new colleges, and several large manufacturing facilities to take the place of the mills fleeing to the south. ...

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Chapter 6 Progress

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pp. 71-86

The Utica sin city scandals impacted only the city in the short run, but in time affected the surrounding hinterland in unforeseen ways. As the 1960s opened, the expectation of progress that had developed after World War II came to fruition as communities throughout the United States began to dramatically restructure themselves to make room for the automobile and modern conveniences of every kind. ...

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Chapter 7 Slaughter of the Innocents

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pp. 87-98

After World War II, the entire nation went on a spending spree emboldened by the confidence of the world’s most productive economy and an inherent belief in the virtue of progress. The plans of the policy makers had been grand and the investments of the entrepreneurs had been beneficent however self-serving. Architectural renderings of the period looked futuristic and modern, even avant-garde, but when the projects were finally realized, they were lifeless. ...

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Chapter 8 Extended Communities

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pp. 99-111

It took decades for the dynamics that untowned Hartwick to coalesce, but less than three years for the final collapse of the economy to take place. In its wake, Hartwick became dependent upon other communities to provide employment, goods, and services. ...

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Chapter 9 Deconstructing Utica

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pp. 113-126

The despair of the 1990s approached that of the 1970s. The region lost thousands of jobs, residents fled the area, and entire communities were forced to question the function they served in the global economy. A general pattern emerged in which children graduated not only from high school but from their hometowns as well. And the patterns established during the 1980s served as the basis for continued adaptations to an increasingly marginal position in the world. ...

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Chapter 10 Reconstructing Hartwick

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pp. 127-138

The Cooperstown Freeman’s Journal had been reporting the story for nearly a year, but it was on November 2, 1989, that the Utica Observer-Dispatch finally took an interest. Beneath a picture of President George H. W. Bush holding Jessica McClure—a little girl recently saved after falling in a well—ran a story perhaps equally as emotional for the residents of Cooperstown in the question it posed: whether or not a Pizza Hut restaurant should be allowed in the village (OD, 2 Nov. 1989). ...

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Chapter 11 Different Strokes

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pp. 139-149

As the new millennium began, central New York seemed different. Metropolitan Utica had lost more than twenty thousand residents between 1980 and 2000, and the racial and ethnic balance had changed. More than 36 thousand whites had left the region during that time, whereas the area gained almost fifteen thousand blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans. ...

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Chapter 12 Gotham’s Shadow

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pp. 151-157

The letter arrived in January 2001, the return address on the envelope featuring a picture of the closed Hartwick Seminary and the line “Town of Hartwick Historical Society.” The seminary had closed decades earlier, moving its resources from the rural town to the more urban Oneonta and reopening as a secular college of the same name. ...

Appendix A: The Block Quintile Measure

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pp. 159-160

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Appendix B: Newspaper Advertisement Data

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pp. 161

The type and location of retail advertisements was coded for specific dates at five-year intervals in the Cooperstown Freeman’s Journal and the Utica Observer-Dispatch. This allowed tracking of the location of newspaper advertisers throughout the communities over a long period of time, thus allowing an analysis of the impact of the automobile and suburbanization. ...

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Appendix C: Retail Functions Study

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pp. 163-164

A survey of businesses in contiguously urbanized areas in which twenty-five or more structures, excluding agricultural, storage, and warehousing buildings, are located within one-tenth (0.1) of a mile of the nearest building was conducted during the summer and fall of 1997. Cooperstown, Fly Creek, and Hartwick are natural centers for economic activity. ...


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pp. 165-171


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pp. 173-186


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pp. 187-189

E-ISBN-13: 9780791487488
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791455951
Print-ISBN-10: 0791455955

Page Count: 189
Illustrations: 7 tables, 4 figures
Publication Year: 2003

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • New York (State) -- Rural conditions.
  • Cities and towns -- New York (State).
  • Urban renewal -- New York (State) -- Utica.
  • New York (State) -- Social conditions.
  • New York (State) -- Economic conditions.
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