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Inside the Empire: Ethnography of a Global Citadel in New York


  • Gregory Smithsimon

    (Department of Sociology, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210, USA,


For Friedmann and Wolff, the citadel’s physical form—physically defended enclaves in the global city—shapes relations between citadels and outsiders. Subsequent work claims that the designs of citadels produce simulated community life, exclude the city and sanitise public spaces. However, such claims have been based on relatively brief observations. This ethnography assesses the impact of design by examining the quintessential citadel of Battery Park City, in New York City, while the community mobilised against plans for a highway tunnel bordering their community during redevelopment of the neighbouring World Trade Center site. Community life is robust. However, the influence of the physical design is borne out in previously unrecognised ways: residents are identified as a crucial new constituency promoting exclusivity in the global city.

Suggested Citation

  • Gregory Smithsimon, 2010. "Inside the Empire: Ethnography of a Global Citadel in New York," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 47(4), pages 699-724, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:47:y:2010:i:4:p:699-724

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