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Miriam Grennberg: "Urban Branding and the Postfordist City: The Case of New York City in the 1970s"

An important aspect of the shift from the Industrial to the postfordist city was the increased role of media and marketing in urban economic affairs. This role was particularly pronounced in 1970s-era New York, when an image crisis exacerbated the city's wider economic decline. This image crisis was rooted in three areas: the global reach of the city's renowned media sector; the media's increasingly lurid and popular portrayal of the city's problems; and the postfordist context of interurban competition in which this media was being consumed -- i.e. with image-based indicators like "lifestyle" and "business climate" influencing coveted and volatile markets in tourism, corporate location, and municipal bond ratings. In response, new public private coalitions formed that used media and marketing in unprecedented ways to craft a business and tourist-friendly city image under the banner of New York's first official campaigns: "Big Apple" and "I Love New York." These campaigns were combined with pro-business reforms including tax breaks, lay-offs of unionized city workers, and austerity measures in a visual/material strategy I will call urban branding.  New York City's post-crisis, postfordist "recovery" was then itself heavily marketed, becoming a powerful model for cities and nations around the world.

About the Author

Miriam Greenberg is the author of "Branding New York: How a City in Crisis was Sold to the World" (Routledge, 2008). She received her PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center, and now is Assistant Professor of Sociology, with an emphasis on urban studies and media, at the University of California Santa Cruz.

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