Changing Landscapes of Power: Opulence and the Urge for Authenticity


Moving beyond two often used constructs that describe recent socio‐spatial changes in cities — gentrification and neoliberalism — this discussion suggests working with the aesthetic idea of authenticity to support the right to a diverse city. As an analytic construct, authenticity has several virtues: it directs attention to culture as well as political economy in the development of global urbanism; it connects to the pervasive modern search for sources of ‘real’ identity; and it reflects concern with changes in urban experience, as well as with physical displacement in the built environment. Reviewing the post‐second world war history of US cities, as they replaced the ‘urban village’ with the ‘corporate city’, and more recent examples from New York City, I consider capital, the state, the growing power of the media and new middle‐class tastes.