Our cities are changing. Global real estate is now a $217 trillion dollar industry, 36 times the value of all the gold ever mined. It makes up 60 percent of the world's assets, and the most powerful person in the world - the president of the United States - made his name as a landlord and real estate developer.
As Samuel Stein makes clear in this tightly argued book, its through seemingly innocuous profession of city planners that we can best understand the transformations underway. Planners provide a window into the practical dynamics of urban change: the way the state uses and is used by organized capital, and the power of landlords and developers at every level of government. But crucially, planners also possess some of the powers we must leverage if we ever wish to reclaim our cities from real estate capital.
Samuel Stein studies geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and teaches urban studies at Hunter College. His writing on planning politics been published by Jacobin, The Journal of Urban Affairs, Metropolitics, and many other magazines and journals. In addition to studying and teaching urban geography, he worked as a researcher, organizer, and planner on numerous New York City union campaigns, tenant mobilizations, and public policy initiatives.
Jeremiah Moss, creator of the award-winning blog Vanishing New York, is the pen name of Griffin Hansbury. His writing on the city has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and online for The New Yorker and The Paris Review. As Hansbury, he is the author of The Nostalgist, a novel, and works as a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City.