Affluence and Realization
Class of: 2023
Major: Strategic Design and Management BBA
Faculty: Tom McGlynn and Andrea Marpillero-Colomina
Prompt: Using New York City as your initial research context, do a site visit, document (photograph, take site notes and draw), and do historical research of a specific neighborhood location. Produce an interpretive fold out brochure that combines photography, drawings and text that represents a visualization/ cross-section of your research threads.
The population of Upper West Side of New York is 70% white and well-known for its high-end apartments and affluent residents. Although the area is rich in architecture and claims to be a progressive community, there are several drawbacks residing in the Upper West Side community. While walking through the affluent area I could not help but notice the lack of diversity. The humans walking around on a bright, sunny Sunday morning were either young white couples with small children or older white people walking their expensive dog breeds. The architecture found in the Upper West Side are some of the oldest buildings in Manhattan. Several famous buildings reside in the Upper West Side, such as a large Trump Tower, The Dakota; former home of John Lennon, and The Ansonia. The rooms found in these buildings tend to be larger, which is why the more affluent people tend to flock to the Upper West Side of Manhattan. From the outside, the neighborhood is beautiful. It is centered between Riverside Park located to the West and Central Park located to the East. However, beneath the beauty lies political and governmental turmoil. When the area was proposed to desegregate some of the whitest schools in New York City, angry Upper West Side parents screamed their resistance on local news. Unable to recognize their own privilege, white parents of District 3 felt uncomfortable sending their kids to school with greater diversity. In addition to the lack of diversity in schools, there was also real estate discrimination. Stated in a Financial Times article, one Mexican-American and one Russian-American were turned down by a seller’s co-op board. Although the board states that they were rejected based on financial qualification, it still raises questions of the Upper West Side’s desire to stay predominantly white.