In the book, The Urban Lifeworld, a compilation of views on urban planning, author Peter Marcuse describes “the layered city.”
The Tenement City:
The tenement city must do for lower paid workers, workers earning the minimum wage or little more, often with irregular employment, few benefits, little job security, or no chance of advancement. Their city is much less protective or insular [in comparison to wealthier cities]. In earlier days their neighborhoods were called slums; when their residents were perceived as unruly and undisciplined, they were the victims of slum clearance and “upgrading” efforts. Today they are shown their place by abandonment and/or displacement, by service cuts, deterioration of public facilities, [and] political neglect.
In the book The Missing Class, authors Katherine S. Newman and Victor Tan chen argue to the contrary, “If gentrification has displaced many a poor family, it has also brought much-needed resources to those households that are somehow able to remain in the neighborhood, in the form of schools funded by a broader tax base, infrastructure given more attention by politicians, bureaucrats, and entrepreneurs, and neighborhoods policed more vigilantly.”
The Abandoned City:
It seems it is a question of ethics: if revitalization is the “green” thing to do and improves the local economy, how do we improve without displacing? Urban revitalization cannot be used as a panacea. Marouse continues:
The abandoned city, economic and, in the United States, racial, is the place for the very poor, the excluded, the never employed and permanently under employed, the homeless and the shelter residents. A crumbling infrastructure, deteriorating housing, the domination of outside impersonal forces, direct street-level exploitation, racial and ethnic discrimination and segregation, and the stereotyping of women are everyday reality.
The insertion of casinos into every real estate yawn large enough to accommodate is predatory. Casinos introduce jobs and kick start the neighborhood’s economy with one hand, with the other, they exploit and separate the working class from their hard earned income. It is not by accident that casinos infiltrate areas nearby, but not within, the glamorous “high-rent” districts of most cities. Ethics aside, Philadelphia casinos binge eat energy and unapologetically produces waste at rates unimaginable.
The Residual City:
The following, as described by Marouse, illuminates”Eco-apartheid” or the economic and ecologic blight of poor, minority-dominated neighborhoods:
The residual city, the city of the less legal portions of the informal economy, the city of storage where otherwise undesired (NIMBY- Not In My BackYard) facilities are located, the location of abandoned manufacturing buildings, generally also congruent with the abandoned residential city. But for the political protest many of the most polluting and environmentally detrimental components of the urban infrastructure, necessary for its economic survival but not directly tied to any one economic activity, are located here: sewage disposal plants, incinerators, bus garages, AIDS residences, housing for the homeless, juvenile detention centers, jails.