Is Manhattan Only For the Rich?

by Barry Drogin

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NEIGHBORHOODS - Do the streets, curbs, subway platforms, bus stops, parks and plazas belong to the renting, owning residents, or are they public property? Are some public properties more public than others, i.e., do "rich neighborhoods" have a right to use police to deny access to non-residents, pushing them into "poor neighborhoods" where such laws are not enforced?

VAGRANCY - Do people have the right to loiter, sleep, solicit, urinate, shout verbal abuse, dress poorly, smell bad, etc.? Some, all, or none of the above?

ZONING - Is anti-gentrification legislation restrictive of a landlord's liberty? Do rich people have a right to live in a building surrounded by similar buildings, and how does this differ from a white person's "right" to live in a white neighborhood, or a protestant person's "right" to live surrounded by protestants?

HOUSING - Is warehousing a civil liberties issue? Are squatters the urban equivalent of old west settlers?

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Last Updated: September 1, 2007