Hakim Hasan Book vendor At first, predominantly “Black books” – by or about African-Americans Exceptionally well-read Becomes romantically involved with Alice, merge tables
When asked, Hakim says he is a “public character” Phrase comes from Jane Jacobs’ 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities Also about Greenwich Village
Structure of sidewalk life hangs partly upon Public characters Frequent contact with a wide circle of people News of sidewalk interest travels this way
Jacobs described how Local shopkeepers Used to have spare keys for neighbors Watchful eye on children Call police if threatening figures loomed Had an interest in law and order
Unlike suburban America where Errands are done by cars, In Greenwich village, most people walk to do them Sidewalk life crucial – strangers must sense mutual support Behaviors and boundaries clearly defined
Currently, Poor Black men make their lives on the village sidewalks Different than 1961 Then – stricter racial segregation, well-policed skid row areas of NYC Now – have to handle their own social boundaries
Why these changes? Extreme concentration of poverty Crack epidemic Workfare changes – loss of benefits
How sidewalk life works today Some magazine vendors are homeless Some find that police throw their tables out into garbage trucks when they leave for a minute Some scavenge garbage to sell on street Some panhandle
Duneier asks sociological questions About order, exclusion, stigmatization, city’s response, etc.
Street life provides social support For those not receiving it from social service agencies or religious groups Chance to earn wages, support self and others Carves order out of chaos
Government response “Broken windows” theory – minor signs of disorder lead to more serious crime Therefore –city has social controls – limiting vending space, throwing away belongings “Quality of life” issues are big concerns in major U.S. cities
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