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Security Zones and New York City's Shrinking Public Space

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Katie Campe

AMS 205

Critical Essay: "Security Zones and New York City's Shrinking Public Space"

In Nemeth's and Hollander's critical essay "Security Zones and New York City's Shrinking Public Space," the authors examine a new phenomenon for land use that is becoming an important feature of the 21st century. This new land use involves the loss of public space due to increased security measures against terror attacks since September 11th, 2001. Areas that are seen as vulnerable to terror attacks are being turned into security zones, where only certain people with security clearance are allowed to enter. Public space is an important area for interaction and diversity within a city or community. It is often seen as an essential part of a democratic city where any person can assemble and interact. The loss of this public space can be seen as the government trying to increase fear and shrink the public realm of the city. Not only do these security zones create a lack of space for democratic gatherings, they also take away a great deal of physical space in a city. The authors examined two New York City neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan: The Civic Center and the Financial District. Since security zones have been implemented, both neighborhoods have seen a significant amount of public space become limited or closed. The loss of this public space includes roads being closed, sidewalks restricted, and even barriers for the sake of security.

I think it is interesting that around the same amount of public space was closed or limited in both the Civic Center neighborhood and the Financial District of New York. This is saying that we strive to protect both our government buildings in the Civic Center neighborhood and our high-value private buildings in the Financial District. Therefore, American society has a desire to protect both our historical civic buildings but also our economic powerhouses. I also think that these security zones are meant to instill fear in the public and remind them of the constant threat of terror attacks. Instilling fear in citizens it just one way for a government to enact control over its citizens. This goes along with the physical loss of public space for assembly and interaction that also serves as a way of hurting the democratic framework of a city.

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