A driving question of city planning is how to design better cities. Social inequity is one of those issues that can be changed by city planning, not only in the future but in our current cities as well. Bronze Investments, a company that has the goal to eliminate social disparities, puts it this way:
“[t]he vast inequities between communities is unnatural and unnecessary. It’s an artifact of bad design and a false choice. Someone decided where transportation would flow and where it wouldn’t, where the garbage and toxins would be taken, where the homes, offices and grocery stores would be built, and where they wouldn’t. A thousand large and small decisions make up this imaginary place called the other side of the tracks.” – Bronze Investments website.
Let anthropologist and founder of Bronze Investments Stephen DeBerry tell you the story of how economic disparity got physically encoded in urban design and how east-side communities became associated with phrases like “the wrong side of town”.
- If you want to learn more about Stephen DeBerry, check out his Ted Speaker profile here.
- To learn more about Bronze Investments and how to help reduce social inequity, you can consult their website here.
- For an interesting study on the gentrification of the Lower East Side of NYC, check out: Smith, N. and DeFilippis, J., 1999. The reassertion of economics: 1990s gentrification in the Lower East Side. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 23(4), pp.638-653.
- If you would like to learn more about the social construct of “east” and “west” sides, you can read the anthropological linguistics work of Edward Buendía, Nancy Ares, Brenda G. Juarez, and Megan Peercy in: Buendia, E., Ares, N., Juarez, B.G. and Peercy, M., 2004. The geographies of difference: The production of the east side, west side, and central city school. American Educational Research Journal, 41(4), pp.833-863.