The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn: Gentrification and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar New York


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.2 X 1.1 inches | 1.05 pounds

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About the Author

Suleiman Osman is Assistant Professor of American Studies at George Washington University. He grew up in Brooklyn's Park Slope and now lives in Washington, D.C.


"Osman has told the story with great insight and drama through an eclectic and well-selected set of historical sources and a felicitous writerly prose."--American Historical Review

"[B]rilliant...For those looking for an incredibly thought-provoking, detailed account of the motivations, confrontations, and at times hypocrisies, of the gentrification movement, Suleiman Osman's The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn is a must-read."--Carolina Planning Journal

"Absorbing."--The New Yorker

"The most important current book on New York."--New York Post

"Leaves the reader deeply informed....The story of Brooklyn's gentrification needed to be written, and Osman does it well."--Times Literary Supplement

"Insightful....An exceptionally well-researched book that will retain validity for years to come."--Library Journal

"A timely and compelling history."--Buildings & Landscapes

"An impressive new book...a rich and refreshingly ambivalent account of how a new urban ideal--one riddled with contradictions--emerged in Brooklyn between the end of World War II and the late 1970s. The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn is a first-rate work of history, especially for a debut effort by a young scholar. Osman impresses with sweeping ruminations on the meanings of modernism and what he dubs the 'literature of gentrification' while also remaining grounded in nuts-and-bolts archival research."--Bookforum

"A brilliant study of an American 'pro urban ideal, ' which opened up just after World War II, when it seemed all America was rejecting cities and their values. Suleiman Osman shows Brooklynites fighting each other for decades. Did anybody win? We can see now, decades later, how intellectually fruitful this fight has been, how it has 'blossomed into a postindustrial slow growth movement' that is still growing."--Marshall Berman, author of All That Is Solid Melts Into Air

"Finally we have a history of gentrification that isn't primarily an exercise in identifying good guys and bad guys. And what a history it is! In this superb study, Suleiman Osman gives us a highly readable and well balanced account of the complex forces at work in Brownstone Brooklyn in the 1960s and 70s, a pivotal era for America and its cities. By looking closely at one small part of the urban landscape, Osman has been able to give us one of the most satisfying accounts to date of some of the fundamental shifts in American life in an era when the industrial economy bottomed out, a venerable New Deal coalition collapsed, new activist groups appeared, a new conservatism was born, and American inner city neighborhoods became a crucible for new attitudes about architecture, urban life and the role of place and community activism. In the process we get incisive, often startling, insights into figures we thought we knew."--Robert Bruegmann, author of Sprawl: A Compact History

"Inventing Brownstone Brooklyn gives readers a rich and compelling story of competing urban visions. The power and inner contradictions of the gentrification impulse come alive in these pages."--Daniel T. Rodgers, author of Age of Fracture

"In this richly nuanced account, Suleiman Osman follows Brooklyn's gentrifiers--small in number but outsized in influence--as they reclaimed brownstones and remade urban space. Osman's discussion of the connections between gentrification, urban reform politics, and the 1960s counterculture is especially illuminating."--Thomas J. Sugrue, University of Pennsylvania

"This fine-grained history portrays gentrifiers as the first Moderns who are both rooted in the growth of big business and the professions and rebelling against the soulless city built by corporations and the state. Osman adroitly traces the paradoxes of gentrification from an elusive search for authenticity to the fears of the urban middle class."--Sharon Zukin, author of Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places

"Osman...sheds new light on the history of the Brownstone belt and how it began to convey the charm and authenticity gentrifiers admire so much. Although the story Suleiman tells is specific to the Western quadrant of one New York borough, the lesson is universal."--American Prospect