Weekend Reading: City Journal

I couldn’t go through too many of these “weekend reading” posts without featuring America’s urban paper of record—City Journal. This is a quarterly published by the Manhattan Institute that counters, with its conservative viewpoint, much of today’s received wisdom on urban issues. It was begun in 1990 by Brian Anderson in response to decades of decline in New York City. To combat this, the journal had proposed that the city lower taxes and regulations, privatize services, modernize its policing, and demand a return to civic standards. Many of its policy suggestions were used by the Giuliani administration to great success; and more broadly, it became a bullhorn for the circus act that defined NYC in those tumultuous years, covering everything from Broken Windows policing, to race riots, to homelessness, to high-rise public housing, to the takeover by anarchists of Tompkins Square Park. While still covering NYC, it has shifted focus today to that other 800-pound gorilla of wasteful governance, California, and frequently discusses other U.S. cities.

The journal is unique not only because it defies the left, but by even bothering with urban issues, also much of the right. Today’s Republican Party, after all, consists of mostly suburban and rural constituencies, who deal only peripherally with city problems. But City Journal has long addressed these problems from street-level, offering a voice rarely heard in America’s heavily-Democratic city halls. I’ve compiled some of its best articles:

-Myron Magnet in 2008—on NYC’s degenerative atmosphere in the 1970s

-Nicole Gelinas in 2012—on why federal intervention into urban policy is a bad idea

-Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1993—a transcript of a speech by the renowned Senator on how crime and illegitimacy skyrocketed in NYC

-David Brooks in 1994—before he became the famed New York Times columnist, comparing welfare in Europe and America

-Carolyn Lochhead in 1992—on Mark Green, the fanatical would-be mayor who ran against Giuliani

-Steven Malanga in 2008—on career panhandlers who travel to cities across the nation

-Heather MacDonald in 1993—on the bizarre story of Larry Hogue, a schizophrenic crackhead who for years terrorized the Upper West Side—vandalizing cars, setting fires to buildings, publicly masturbating, and punching children—but who couldn’t get committed because of New York’s unsound mental health policies


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