New Urbanism, Or New Landed Aristocracy?

Back in the olden days, when His Majesty, the King, wanted to show his favor to a deserving subject, he bestowed upon him a title of nobility — not just the right to call himself the Lord of Giggleswick, or the Voyevoda of Podlipskie, or whatever, but with those titles of nobility came land. We may not think inĀ  terms of landed gentry today, but the right to own (or occupy) land in certain places still carries with it enormous prestige as well as economic benefits.

New York, or more accurately, Manhattan, represents the ultimate in urbanization. But the urban environment is also the traditional habitat of the middle class. So we turned with great interest to a long article in today’s New York Times’ Real Estate department — Amy O’Leary,What Is Middle Class in Manhattan? Jan. 20, 2013, at p. 8, Business Section — click here.

It won’t come as a surprise to our sentient readers that the cost of housing has been soaring in New York for a long time, and this article contains partial copies of four older articles, reiterating the same theme going back to 1950: the cost of housing has been driving the middle class out of New York.. The one from 1969, by David K. Shipler, is headlined Many Families Find They Must Leave City for Housing. That pretty much says it all. What we learn from today’s article is that “only 17 percent of Manhattan households have children, according to census data. That is almost half the national average, making little ones the ultimate deal-breaker for otherwise die-hard middle class Manhattanites.”

So this is the “new urbanism” that we are urged to aspire to?