The Association for a Better New York, fear of crime, and the privatisation of New York City, 1969-1973
Merton, Joe (2017) The Association for a Better New York, fear of crime, and the privatisation of New York City, 1969-1973. Journal of Urban History . ISSN 1552-6771 (Submitted)
This essay addresses the central role played by fear of crime in legitimising the transformation of New York City from a “public” to “private” city during the 1970s. Focusing upon the crime control initiatives of business advocacy group the Association for a Better New York (ABNY), it illustrates the utility of public anxieties over street crime, against a backdrop of spiralling crime rates, government paralysis and growing labour militancy amongst rank-and-file police, to the attempts of developers, investors and corporate elites to restructure the city and its political economy at a time of fiscal and political uncertainty. The essay concludes that while ABNY’s anti-crime proposals played a significant role in the restructuring of New York over the course of the decade into the quintessential ‘neoliberal city’ (Hackworth, 2007) of today, and provided an enduring template for wholesale urban transformation for many other cities to follow, they also owe their success to a surprising political sponsor - Mayor John V. Lindsay.
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