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Gentrification began as a grassroots movement led by young and idealistic white college graduates searching for "authenticity" and life outside the burgeoning suburbs. Where postwar city leaders championed slum clearance and modern architecture, "brownstoners" (as they called themselves) fought for a new romantic urban ideal that celebrated historic buildings, industrial lofts and traditional ethnic neighborhoods as a refuge from an increasingly technocratic society.
Osman examines the emergence of a "slow-growth" progressive coalition as brownstoners joined with poorer residents to battle city planners and local machine politicians. But as brownstoners migrated into poorer areas, race and class tensions emerged, and by the 1980s, as newspapers parodied yuppies and anti-gentrification activists marched through increasingly expensive neighborhoods, brownstoners debated whether their search for authenticity had been a success or failure. The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn deftly mixes architectural, cultural and political history in this eye-opening perspective on the post-industrial city.
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By Holly Savage on 04-02-15
Informative and Thorough
I believe the technical language and somewhat repetitive vocabulary employed, understandably, by the author influenced a sedating cadence by the narrator, but both did a good job putting a narrative spin on the subject. This is obviously not a book that would tempt anyone to embark on a Netflix-esq marathon, but for those interested in Brooklyn architecture, it provides a wealth of information (very intricately researched).