The documentary film “The Vanishing City” was about the phenomenon of the increased variation in Income distribution in the city and reducing the low-income earning population. Therefore, I think that this film is about the rising cost of living in New York City, which pushes out the low-income earners. The residents claim that the small businesses that are critical to the city’s identity are being replaced with businesses that sell luxury goods.
The Vanishing City Cultural Character
This is an indication of the change in the city’s cultural character and the loss of the bestowed diversity of the city. The city is slowly becoming cold and consequently losing the human element. Therefore, New York City is becoming a wealthy city and has no room for the poor. It is important to note that the poor city residents are predominantly people of color, for example, the Black people and the Latin X community.
On the other hand, the wealthy are White people who may have acquired their wealth through white privilege. This has been made evident by the construction of luxury housing that the poor city dwellers cannot afford. This has been caused by the developers and the city planners making New York a luxurious city. The greedy city developers exploit legal loopholes to evade the established quotas for housing for the low and middle-income earners.
This is through trading negotiable certificates between developers licensed to operate within the city and those in the outskirts. For example, firefighters cannot afford to reside in the city despite their contribution to the city’s safety. This is to maximize their profits by allocating all the housing units to the high-income earners who can afford to pay more.
New York City Rapid Development
Senko & Derosa (2010) suggests that New York City is developing too rapidly without considering the interest of all its residents. The film also suggests that the lost character was responsible for attracting talents worldwide, leading to this rise to a major city. The city is eradicating the low income earning residents and the small businesses that the community had fought so hard to stop. New York City contributes to the inequality in the country whereby the prime areas such as Manhattan are allocated to the high-income earners. At the same time, the poor are pushed out to the city outskirts.
Decline of New York City
The decline of New York City from being an influential position through cultural diversity is recently being undermined by inequality in the city. The poor city residents cannot afford to protect themselves from the market forces used to push them outside their city. Chen et al. (2018) provide the perspective on the diversity and inequality in cities after the Second World War. In this case, there is an increase in social diversity along with increased inequality.
On the other hand, Senko & Derosa (2010) depicts that the rapid change of New York City results in the disparity in income and influence between the poor and the rich. The market forces in the city are in favor of the rich at the expense of the poor. On the other hand, there is reduced diversity left to the White as the people of color are pushed out. Therefore Senko & Derosa (2010) is in contradiction with Second World War as described in Chen et al. (2018).
The film Senko & Derosa (2010) suggest that the rapid change in New York City whereby the low-income earners are being pushed outside the city results from the corruption in local government and politics. Chen et al. (2018) note that human beings are influenced by space and place, creating limits for the choices made by individuals. The developers in New York City are influenced by the Judiciary and legislature that are now in favor of the wealthy.
Local Government in New York City
The local government in the city has the power to suppress the will of the low and middle-income earning city dwellers. The local government should ensure equality by protecting the poor from the rich, who may utilize their privilege to take advantage of the poor. Therefore, the film vanishing of New York City is a result of poor governance.
The vanishing of New York City results from urban development, thus reflecting the prosperity in the society. Chen et al. (2018) suggest a natural process whereby society gets distanced from the natural world as their intellect and, consequently, technology improves. Therefore as society grows, its ability to exist independent of nature grows. The film Senko & Derosa (2010), on the other hand, notes that development is inevitable; however, the vice being addressed is that this development is taking place too rapidly.
This denies all the city residents an opportunity to benefit from this development. The building in New York City has been designed to be more inviting to the wealthy and unfriendly to the low-income earners. The development in New York City facilitates capital mobility from the poor to the rich, further increasing the income distribution. Both Senko & Derosa (2010) and Chen et al. (2018) show that development affects the rich who are predominantly White and the poor who are predominately black differently.
Gottdiener et al. (2019) describe the case in Europe, where the city planners have disproportionate power over the city residents. The came case applied to the Senko & Derosa (2010), whereby the city planners allow the developers to profit from pushing the poor and low-income earning residents. On the other hand, the residents cannot leverage their political power to prevent the city planners from exploiting them for profit. Therefore there is a disproportionate distribution of social benefits of the city’s residents.
Income in New York City
Additionally, the city has an incentive to replace the low-income earners with high-income earners due to the increased tax revenue. The rich pay a more significant proportion of their high income and wealth than the poor. The planners’ responsibility is to ensure that both the rich and the poor participate in the city’s development and enjoy the fruits of prosperity. Gottdiener et al. (2019) point out that the case in Manhattan is evident across the cities worldwide.
I think that Senko & Derosa (2010) succeeded in depicting the problem in New York City, where the rich are taken advantage of at the expense of the poor. I believe that the documentary succeeded in educating the viewer about inequality in the distribution of power and wealth. It facilitates the creation of dialogue on equality across wealth and ethnicity disparities. The firm was captivating and facilitated a social movement where the poor could advocate for their right to be part of the prosperity in the rapidly growing New York City. However, the filmmakers successfully depict how the developers exploit the city policies to benefit from pushing out the poor.
- Chen, X., Orum, A. M., & Paulsen, K. E. (2018). Introduction to cities: How place and space shape human experience. John Wiley & Sons.
- Gottdiener, M., Hohle, R., & King, C. (2019). The new urban sociology. Routledge.
- Senko, J., & Derosa, F. (2009). The Vanishing City: The Documentary [Film]. New York City; Amazon.com.