Benjamin Holtzman is a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a historian and teacher trained in the intersections of the political, social, and economic history of the United States, with particular focus on politics, capitalism, cities and suburbs, race and class, social movements, and public history. His book project, The Long Crisis: New York City and the Path to Neoliberalism, is under contract with Oxford University Press. The Long Crisis uses the sweeping transformation of post-1960s New York City to trace how market-oriented policies have come to proliferate across American life over the past five decades.
Crisis and Confidence: Reimagining New York City in the Late Twentieth Century
Holtzman’s dissertation, “Crisis and Confidence: Reimagining New York City in the Late Twentieth Century,” uses the sweeping transformation of post-1960’s New York City to understand the broader remaking of the United States in the latter twentieth century. The project begins in the crisis-plagued New York City of the 1960’s, the inauguration of more than a decade of widespread economic and political turmoil and ends with the city’s proclaimed resurgence in the 2000’s. During this period, diverse groups of city-dwellers, including grassroots organizations, non-profit foundations, elites, and elected officials worked to reshape New York as overlapping crises disrupted long-standing logics of urban governance and economics. In chronicling these varied initiatives, his dissertation reveals a defining characteristic of the period: as different sectors simultaneously embraced the sentiment that city government no longer worked, many turned toward market-based governing logics to sustain key areas of city life. These turns illustrate the powerful connection between local conditions and the broader shift toward a marketized political economy.