Community Development in the Urban Crises


It could be stated with certainty that the development of the society throughout the history of the development of the human race was largely based upon the concept of the city as a fundamental structural aspect of the society. It is also appropriate to observe that this development is a continuous process, which is still in the process of evolving to this day, and it could be suggested that this process will hardly ever stagnate completely. Numerous forces and factors that could be categorized into three broad groups (political, historical, and economic policies and processes) have a direct influence on how urban areas change over time. It is evident that the rapid development of the economy and industrial progress in the 20th century, despite their positive results, also caused numerous crises to evolve. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to critically evaluate the readings from the course on the identified topic to understand how communities survive and create a community in the face of urban crises.

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Key Concepts in the Texts and Their Comparison

Four pieces of literary work were selected for this assignment, as they dwell upon the discussion of the problems of urbanization in various contexts. It is appropriate to start with the discussion of the Berman’s introduction to profound research of New York as a very ambitiously planned urban area (9). The author reflects on how he used to like New York when he was a kid as he perceived the city as the place where peace, harmony, and democracy have ultimate value (Berman 11). However, it is stated by Berman that, due to large changes in the population and economy of the city, it became disintegrated, violent, and problematic (32).

A considerably similar sentiment is expressed in the book by Miriam Greenberg, in which she also investigates the history of New York as an example of the modern urban area (133). In the fifth chapter of her book, Greenberg calls New York “the fear city,” which expresses the problems that existed in the 20th century, particularly, problems derived from the economic crisis of 1975 (133). In comparison with the text by Berman, Greenberg is narrating the history of New York from a less personal perspective, which provides a more objective view of the situation. However, Berman’s narration appears to be more compelling in terms of personal engagement. Which perspective is more suitable? It is difficult to decide because each of them provides a unique perception of the situation.

Further, it is essential to mention the article by Bedoya, who strives to discuss the problem of spatial justice from a different point of view. The author states that he grew up in San Francisco’s East Bay, where he experienced ethnic housing practices. Bedoya is narrating from the position of cultural activist, which is a highly important perspective in contemporary society. The primary idea of the article is formulated as the struggle against “white spatial imaginary,” which is defined by the author as the predominant opinion within the white culture about being poor and of color as of some civic imperfection that should be expunged (Bedoya). Given the fact that gentrification and placemaking practices that are considerably widespread currently, the author states it explicitly that spatial factors have a direct connection with racial prejudice and social injustice. In this sense, the article differs significantly from the perspectives that were provided by Berman and Greenberg.

Finally, the fourth text under discussion is written by Aponte-Parés in 1995, and this article explores a slightly different setting compared to the previous three sources since Aponte-Parés describes Puerto-Rican housing practices in South Bronx, New York. It is appropriate to mention that in this context, the parallel could be drawn with text by Bedoya since he also mentions that the Rasquache spatial imaginary exists in South Bronx. It is also essential to observe that Aponte-Parés elaborates on the investigation of the same historical period as Greenberg since they both consider the 1970s to be the source of various economic problems that later significantly influenced the development of New York as a city, especially in poor neighborhoods.

Personal Perspective on the Readings and Conclusion

Considering a personal perspective on the readings for this assignment, I should state that the texts by Berman and Bedoya were the most compelling in terms of emotional engagement in the narration. The texts by Greenberg and Aponte-Parés represent a more historically-objective, yet also interesting texts about the development of contemporary urban areas. How could the modern city be described since it combines and blends numerous factors of various kinds, each of them having a direct influence on the development of the city? In my opinion, the personal experience should be the foundation of the investigation of the concept of city and its problems, while historical perspectives and the investigation of economic processes should serve as supporting material for the evidence-based view of the problems related to urban areas. In conclusion, I should observe that all the readings used for this assignment have an immense influence on me because each of them provides a unique and interesting point of view on the problem of urbanization.

Works Cited

Aponte-Parés, Luis. “What’s Yellow and White and Has Land all around it? Appropriating Place in Puerto Rican Barrios.” Centro Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, 1995, pp. 8-19.

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Bedoya, R (2014) “Spatial Justice: Rasquachification, Race and the City.” CreativeTime Reports. 2014, Web.

Berman, Marshall. “Introduction.” New York Calling: From Blackout to Bloomberg, edited by Marshall Berman and Brian Berger, Reaktion Books, 2007, pp. 9-38.

Greenberg, Miriam. Branding New York: How a City in Crisis Was Sold to the World. Routledge, 2009.

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