New York and Los Angeles: Politics, Society and Culture - A Comparative View / Edition 1

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No two cities are more symbolic of the modern American metropolis than New York and Los Angeles. But while New York boasts a recently revitalized urban center, Los Angeles is the classic example of sprawl and decentralization, with multiple clusters of economic and social activity dispersed throughout its surrounding area.

This volume presents advanced studies that consider this fundamental difference between New York and Los Angeles while comparing and contrasting politics and culture in each region. An esteemed group of contributors from a wide variety of disciplines considers issues that include immigration, the effects of race and class on residence, the efficacy of public schools, the value of welfare reform, the meaning of mayoral politics, the function of charter reform, and the respective roles of the cinema and art scenes in each city.

Capturing much of what is new and vibrant in urban studies today, New York and Los Angeles will prove to be must reading for scholars in that field, as well as in sociology, political science, and government.

Andrew Beveridge, Mehdi Bozorgmehr, Geoffrey DeVerteuil, Susan S. Fainstein, Robert Gedeon, Saverio Giovacchini, David L. Gladstone, David Halle, Jack Katz, Karen M. Kaufmann, Rebecca Kim, Mark Levitan, Kevin Rafter, Georges Sabagh, David O. Sears, Heidi Sommer, Raphael J. Sonenshein, András Szántó, Lois Takahashi, Susan Weber, Jennifer Wolch, Julia Wrigley, Min Zhou

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226313702
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2003
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 472
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

David Halle is a professor of sociology and director of the LeRoy Neiman Center for the Study of American Society and Culture at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is also an adjunct professor at the City University of New York's Graduate Center and the author of America's Working Man: Work, Home, and Politics among Blue-Collar Property Owners and Inside Culture: Art and Class in the American Home, both published by the University of Chicago Press.
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New York & Los Angeles
Politics, Society, and Culture A COMPARATIVE VIEW
The University of Chicago Press
Copyright © 2003 The University of Chicago
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-226-31370-2

Chapter One
Race and Class in the Developing New York and Los Angeles Metropolises 1940-2000

Andrew A. Beveridge and Susan Weber

Everyone has seen the Saul Steinberg poster, The View from Ninth Avenue, according to which New York is "Gotham," the center of the universe. There is little west of the Hudson, except Chicago, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Utah, Texas, and, of course, far distant Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. The contrary image of Los Angeles is of a "great big freeway." There is "no there, there," which, of course, was originally said of Oakland. According to the stereotype, the sprawl in southern California has no counterpart in New York, still considered a walking city where old ethnic neighborhoods thrive and people take taxicabs and subways and even walk from home to work. In Los Angeles, everyone drives, there is little public transportation, and, indeed, one can be stopped and even arrested for walking. Movies such as LA Story and Bowfinger, songs from such groups as the Beach Boys and Randy Newman's classic We Love LA, Raymond Chandler novels, and general perceptions drive these stereotypes home.

Yet, if one looks at the entire metropolis of New York and of Los Angeles, both sets of stereotypes begin to give way. New York City is part of a larger urban structure that spans four states and includes many affluent suburbs, along with other areas of urban density. The Bureau of the Census, starting as early as 1940, has formally recognized this development. As will be seen, the inner-city "core" of New York, with the exception of much of Manhattan, is becoming more and more a remnant from an earlier era. Furthermore, most recent development has occurred outside of the "city limits." The New Jersey Turnpike, for instance, is every bit as large and heavily traveled as many of the freeways in Los Angeles. A governor of New Jersey ran radio commercials touting the advantages to business of locating on one of the turnpike's many exits.

Local and state governments foster this outward development, even while some have decried it. This pattern has major and unsettling implications for the organization of many features of metropolitan life, including education, health care, employment, transportation, the arts, and shopping. The provision of government services by numerous local entities fosters inequality. Conflicting patterns of aid from each of the state governments and the fragmentation of authority furthers it even more. Nassau County, for instance, has some 3,000 separate tax rates for its residences, depending on which of the many taxing authorities applies to where one lives. There is even a taxing authority for an escalator to one of the Long Island Railroad Stations (Schemo 1994). The crazy quilt pattern of school districts, villages, cities, and towns also abets this fragmentation. New York City has one school district, for instance, and teaches about 43 percent (more than 1.1 million) of all of the children in New York State. Westchester County has forty-two districts, many of them with fewer than a thousand kids. School districts outside of the city do not necessarily follow municipal lines. Yet, often upward of 80 percent of property taxes flow to school districts.

This chapter will examine the extent to which there has been a convergence of urban patterns in these two important metropolises, tracing their development from 1940 through 2000. It will observe shifts in income and race and the extent to which New York City's and Los Angeles's hinterlands are integrated into their core areas. We will see that the "LA-ification" of the New York metropolis is far advanced, though substantial differences remain. Also, to some extent a "New York-ification" of Los Angeles's inner core has been underway for some time, with conglomerations of neighborhoods of poor people alongside moves to enhance the city's parks and to make downtown attractive to the middle class.


The exact limits of the New York metropolitan area, what we prefer to call the "New York metropolis," is subject to much discussion. The Regional Planning Association, for instance, a group that has believed for decades that New York City is really a region, defines an area of thirty-one counties. Many people use the area of seventy-five miles from Times Square. Other regional organizations and the media choose other definitions, all of which have some merit.

The Census Bureau, the Web site for which used to bill itself as "The Official Statistics," has been concerned to conceptualize the expanding boundaries of metropolitan areas for many decades. It, along with the Office of Management and Budget, is responsible for defining metropolitan boundaries/areas of various sorts. Figure 1.1 presents the overlapping definitions of the New York City metropolitan area that the Census Bureau has used since 1940 when it first formally considered New York City to be part of a larger metropolitan district. The bureau's 1940 definition of a metropolitan district was based on collections of townships or so-called minor civil divisions, which are subcounty areas. In the East these are towns but can vary in size from about 720,000 (Hempstead on Long Island) to a few thousand. In 1950 and later, the bureau used counties throughout the United States to define metropolitan areas, except in New England, where towns were still used. The bureau expanded the New York metropolitan area to include such counties as Suffolk, Westchester, Somerset, and Morris. In 1970, recognizing the need for further expansion of these boundaries, the bureau first introduced its consolidated metropolitan statistical area (CMSA) concept. Figure 1.1 shows that by 1995 the New York CMSA consisted of twenty-nine counties and small parts of two others; it has within it some fifteen primary metropolitan areas. The only differences between the 1990 and 1995 CMSAs were the addition of the New Haven-Meriden and Waterbury metropolitan areas and the inclusion of rural Pike County, Pa. With all of the changes on the "borders" of the metropolitan area, the core point remains: New York City's five boroughs are now joined with well over twenty counties to form a large metropolitan area.

The Los Angeles metropolis now consists of the five counties delineated in figure 1.2. Even in 1940 the Los Angeles metropolitan district also included parts of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, though the city of Los Angeles was its core. For 1950 and 1960, the metropolitan district was expanded to include all of Orange County combined with all of Los Angeles County and was called the Los Angeles metropolitan statistical area. San Bernardino became its own metropolitan area. In 1970, Riverside was added to the San Bernardino metropolitan area, while Orange County became a metropolitan area of its own, as did Ventura County. Although the Census Bureau first introduced its consolidated metropolitan statistical area concept in 1970, only New York and Chicago, the first and second largest cities, qualified. The bureau did not yet recognize the unified metropolitan character of the Los Angeles region.

In 1980, the area that is now the Los Angeles consolidated metropolitan statistical area was finally designated. It is a huge area of five counties: Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Ventura. The definition has remained constant since then. This is the area we will compare with the New York metropolis (CMSA).


What have been the directions of development of the New York and Los Angeles metropolises since World War II? For New York City, many of the social and political trends are well known. They include the following: movement of population to the suburbs; continuing migration of African-Americans from the South at least until about twenty years ago; a dip and then increase in the number of migrants from abroad; heavy migration of population out of the area to other parts of the United States. While large-scale suburbs were developing in New York, the Los Angeles area continued to settle and to sprawl. Though some people might have been leaving New York, California was one of the major destinations for emigrants. How have these patterns shaped the metropolises? Have they made the New York area, in part at least, much more like Los Angeles? Have they made Los Angeles more like New York?

To look at these questions, the current five-county Los Angeles CMSA and twenty-nine-county New York CMSA were used. For New York, the counties were classified as belonging to one of three different groups: core urban, near to the core, and periphery. The placement of counties requires some comment. The core consisted of four of the five boroughs of New York, with Staten Island excluded. The core also includes Hudson and Essex Counties in New Jersey. Staten Island was excluded because even today it is not strictly an urban area. Indeed, there was, in the early 1990s, a movement for Staten Island to secede from New York City, from most of which it is truly very different. Hudson and Essex Counties in New Jersey are included in the core because Hudson includes the older cities of Jersey City, Hoboken, and Bayonne, while Essex includes the city of Newark, one of the most highly concentrated urban environments in the country. This classification only points up the arbitrary nature of political boundaries and the fact that specific characteristics do not necessarily relate to such boundaries. The counties designated as near include Staten Island, Nassau, and Westchester in New York and Bergen, Passaic, and Union in New Jersey. Each of these counties is directly adjacent to a core county. The other seventeen counties are periphery.

The Los Angeles metropolis was divided in a similar manner. The Los Angeles core consisted of the Los Angeles minor civil division. This includes the city of Los Angeles and the embedded municipalities of Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Culver City, Ladera Heights, Marina Del Ray, and View-Park Windsor Hills. The extent to which these municipalities shared services with Los Angeles has changed over time. Indeed, Ladera Heights and Marina Del Ray were only recently incorporated. As of 2000, these small municipalities had a combined population of about 170,000, roughly 4.3 percent of the 3.9 million total population of the Los Angeles minor civil division. The core also includes unincorporated East Los Angeles. Including all these areas with the city of Los Angeles makes it possible to assess the changes over time in a geographically homogenous region. The near area consists of the rest of Los Angeles County, while the periphery is the other four counties. One could argue that the division of the Los Angeles metropolis into these three areas is somewhat arbitrary. But since the object of this analysis is to compare Los Angeles and New York, it is important to divide both in roughly the same way. Furthermore, if the divisions are truly that arbitrary in Los Angeles, then no real pattern should emerge, which is not the case, as we show.

Figure 1.3 reveals that in New York the population of the core counties has barely increased since 1940 and, indeed, suffered a sharp drop from 1970 to 1980 from which it has only recently recovered. The population of the near counties increased markedly from 1940 to 1970 but then ceased to grow. By contrast, the population of the counties in the periphery increased continually. They substantially surpassed the near suburbs by 1970 and would by now be approaching the total population of the core had not the latter started to grow again from 1990 on.

In 1940 the total population of the New York area (CMSA) was roughly 13 million, about 8.8 million or two-thirds of whom were in the core. By 2000, the New York area had a population of more than 21 million, but now only 42.5 percent of this in the core. New York moved from being a highly concentrated urban region to looking much more like a large metropolitan area.

The growth pattern of Los Angeles has both differences and similarities. Unlike New York, Los Angeles's core more than doubled from 1940 to 2000. Like New York, in Los Angeles the near and periphery grew, but the rate of growth in Los Angeles was much faster. The near area more than quadrupled, while the periphery grew almost fifteen-fold. At present, only modest growth is continuing to occur in the core and near areas, but the periphery is still growing rapidly. Considering the metropolis as a whole, the periphery now constitutes about 42 percent of Los Angeles, compared with about 36 percent for New York. Both metropolises now have a substantial fraction of their population well distant from the center. Plainly, New York is becoming more like Los Angeles.

The starkness of the change in both metropolises becomes even more obvious when the composition of the population is examined. Figure 1.4 presents data on the "nonwhite" population. The growth of nonwhite in the core is breathtaking. In 1940 the core of New York was 6.4 percent nonwhite, while the near and the periphery were 3.9 and 3.5 percent, respectively. By 1950, the core was about 10 percent nonwhite, while the near and periphery had barely changed. By 2000 the core was 56 percent nonwhite, compared with 26 percent in the near counties and 18 percent in the periphery. Some areas with large concentrations of nonwhites, such as Yonkers and Bridgeport, are not included in the definition of the core because they are located in the periphery though ecologically, as urban areas, they are really core. Were these areas to be included as core, the proportion of nonwhites in the suburban periphery would appear even smaller.

The pattern in Los Angeles for the core is similar. It went from 6.5 percent nonwhite in 1940 to 52 percent in 2000. But in Los Angeles the near and periphery are much more nonwhite than in New York. The near suburban area is about 51 percent nonwhite, and even the periphery is 36 percent nonwhite.

Notice that though the proportion of "whites" has declined markedly in both cores, it remains sizable at around half the total population. A common stereotype that suggests that the white proportion of each core has declined much further than this is based on the practice of excluding from the whites all Hispanics who classify themselves as "white" on the census, a practice that we (Halle, Gedeon, and Beveridge) discuss and criticize in chapter 5.

The pattern for median family income is shown in figure 1.5. The gap between core and near/periphery has grown in both New York and Los Angeles, but at a faster rate in New York. In 1950, the median family income in both New York and Los Angeles was a little higher in the near than in the periphery or core, but these differences were not marked. By 2000, the income gap between the core and the rest of the region is very large in New York. Median family income in the core is $42,900, but more than $74,000 and $71,000, respectively, for the near and periphery. In Los Angeles, a similar but less sizable difference between core and near/periphery is found in 2000, roughly $40,709 for the core, $54,207 for the near and $56,402 for the periphery.

In short, the 2000 census revealed that for both New York and Los Angeles, those who lived in the periphery, on balance, did better than those in either the near suburbs or in the core. Still, the comparison between 1990 and 2000 is revealing. There was a decline in median income in both regions in the core, near, and periphery, though the decline was far more marked in the core, especially in Los Angeles. Indeed, median income in the Los Angeles core was lower in 2000 than it was in 1960. Doubtless much of this decline was due to rapid immigration.


Excerpted from New York & Los Angeles Copyright © 2003 by The University of Chicago. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

The New York and Los Angeles Schools
David Halle
PART I: Overview
ONE: Race and Class in the Developing New York and Los Angeles Metropolises, 1940-2000
Andrew A. Beveridge and Susan Weber
TWO: The New York and Los Angeles Economies
David L. Gladstone and Susan S. Fainstein
THREE: From "Give Me Your Poor" to "Save Our State"
Georges Sabagh and Mehdi Bozorgmehr
FOUR: A Tale of Two Metropolises
Min Zhou and Rebecca Kim
FIVE: Residential Separation and Segregation, Racial and Latino Identity, and the Racial Composition of Each City
David Halle, Robert Gedeon, and Andrew Beveridge
PART II: Social and Urban Problems-Crime, Education, and Poverty
SIX: Metropolitan Crime Myths
Jack Katz
SEVEN: Centralization versus Fragmentation
Julia Wrigley
EIGHT: It Did Happen Here
Mark Levitan
NINE: The Local Welfare State in Transition
Geoffrey DeVerteuil, Heidi Sommer, Jennifer Wolch, and Lois Takahashi
PART III: Politics, Power, and Conflict
TEN: Gotham on Our Minds
Raphael J. Sonenshein
ELEVEN:: The Mayoral Politics of New York and Los Angeles
Karen M. Kaufmann
TWELVE: Riots in New York and Los Angeles
David Halle and Kevin Rafter
THIRTEEN: Black-White Conflict
David O. Sears
PART IV: Culture
FOURTEEN: Hot and Cold
András Szántó
FIFTEEN: "Hollywood Is a State of Mind"
Saverio Giovacchini
David Halle
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