My book, The Long Crisis: New York City and the Path to Neoliberalism (under contract with Oxford University Press), traces how the turn to the market in the late twentieth century was shepherded by an unlikely force: local people struggling to preserve public services. The ascent of market-based policies was driven less by explicitly pro-market ideologies than by New Yorkers experimenting with novel ways to maintain a robust civic life in the face of the city’s well-known budget woes. The project begins in late 1960s New York City, where more than a decade of political and economic crises disrupted long-standing assumptions about the public sector. As diverse groups of city dwellers came to believe that local government could no longer be counted on as before, they launched creative projects that looked to private actors, the private sector, and the market to address problems ranging from affordable housing to decaying parks to rising crime. Conceived by block associations, grassroots activists, non-profit foundations, and cultural institutions, these efforts gained support from local Democrats and liberal officials and gradually became articles of urban-liberal governance.
My research for The Long Crisis and other projects has resulted in several academic publications, including:
“Expanding the Thin Blue Line: Resident Patrols and Private Security in Late Twentieth-Century New York,” Modern American History (forthcoming).
“Urban Homesteading,” in Affordable Housing in New York City: The People, Places, and Policies That Transformed a City, edited by Nicholas Dagen Bloom and Matthew Gordon Lasner (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015), 258-261.
"Adopt a Building" flier, circa mid-1970s
Benjamin Holtzman Ben Holtzman History Brown