brooklyn historical society
Exhibit Dates: May 23 - August 26, 2007
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The Path To Ruin > Public Disinvestment: Planned Shrinkage

SECTION GUIDE

The Path to Ruin | Demographic Changes | Private Disinvestment: The Real Estate Follies |
Public Disinvestment: Planned Shrinkage | "The Fire War" | The Many Causes of Arson | Hitting Bottom
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bushwick

Public Disinvestment: Planned Shrinkage
by Adam J. Schwartz

1969 Master Plan for New York City, "Bushwick urgently needs every type of community facility and service...Assistance must be provided quickly." But rather than step in to provide the necessary aid, the city actually pulled out more vital services. Why did this happen?

The budgetary crisis that hit New York City in the mid 1970's set the stage for a debate about the future of the "American city." Roger Starr, head of the Department of Housing Preservation & Development (then called Housing Development Administration) at the time, held the unpopular position that continued investment in poor neighborhoods was a wasted effort.

Under Mayor Beame, Starr enforced shifting priorities: increase services in the communities that could be "saved" and remove services from the communities that "could not".

This policy of planned shrinkage had a devastating effect on Bushwick and other minority communities across the city.

For more on this topic, read a chapter from "A Plague on your Houses".
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