As cities have gentrified, educated urbanites have come to prize what they regard as "authentic" urban life: aging buildings, art galleries, and funky ethnic restaurants. But as Sharon Zukin shows in Naked City, the pervasive demand for authenticity has helped drive out the very people who first lent a neighborhood its authentic aura: immigrants, the working class, and artists. Through a guided tour of six archetypal New York City neighborhoods, Zukin shows how the emphasis on distinctiveness has become a tool of economic elites to drive up real estate values and force out the neighborhood "characters" that people often idealize. With a journalist's eye and the understanding of a longtime observer, Zukin's panoramic survey of the city explains how our desire to consume authentic experience has become a central force in making cities more exclusive.
Sharon Zukin is Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center. She is the author of Loft Living (the classic book on SoHo's gentrification), Landscapes of Power (winner of the C. Wright Mills Award), The Cultures of Cities, and Point of Purchase.