Vanishing New York ~ Moss

Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul
Jeremiah Moss

Available at a library near me: Hartford Public Library, Library Connection consortium

Further information and reviews at Goodreads.

For ten years, blogger Jeremiah Moss wrote about the loss of New York institutions. Have I ever read any of them? I don’t think so. However, gentrification is real, New York is our neighbor, and the book got good reviews from the sources I consult when ordering.

Jeremiah Moss is the pen name of Griffin Hansbury. While blogging, and now in his book, he chronicles people, places, and things that have disappeared from the city just in the past twenty years since he moved there. At first it felt like he was whining. As I’ve read more, though, it has become more obvious just how much of New York has changed in such a relatively short time (20 years isn’t much for a nearly 400 year old city), and that this is necessary documentation. I’ve also found it interesting to think about my own city and how it fits in with the blueprint of gentrification Moss outlines.

On page 13 Moss starts the first chapter, about the East Village, by stating he came to New York to transition. He transitioned to urban life and, as he states on the next page, from female to male. He writes that the book is not about the latter transition, but that the two are intertwined. “Every person views the city through a prism of personal experience and, as different as all those prisms may be, for a long time, New York was able to accommodate every type” (P. 14).

Gentrification does not leave room for a good number of those types, and Moss was not the first to write about this. The 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail came to mind as I read about small businesses being displaced by chain stores. “If you take away just one thing from this book,” Moss writes in the introduction, “let it be this: Hyper-gentrification and its free-market engine is neither natural nor inevitable. It is man-made, intentional, and therefore stoppable” (P.7).

Overall, I have found this book easy to read. It contains interesting stories, and I like the way it makes me think about my own environment.

Worth checking out: Yes


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