Underground Harmonies: Music and Politics in the Subways of New York

By Susie J. Tanenbaum | Go to book overview

APPENDIX 1
Subway Homelessness

The term "homeless" is to a great extent a misnomer. Some of the individuals in the subways who are folded into this category may have access to private spaces in which to sleep or keep their belongings. They may, however, suffer from addictions, mental disabilities, or extreme poverty. Not all of them panhandle. Some have jobs, and some receive government support. The subway system provides them with shelter or with social and financial contacts. For clarity's sake, I continue to use the term "homeless" in its undifferentiated sense.

Subway homelessness has a history. Destitute New Yorkers have slept underground at least since the Great Depression. 1 During the 1980s their numbers increased dramatically because of major disorder, produced in part by the Reagan administration's attempts to dismantle the social welfare system created during the Great Depression; the failure of New York governors Carey and Cuomo to provide adequate community-based services to deinstitutionalized mentally challenged New Yorkers; the city council's resistance to passing legislation banning both the warehousing of apartments and the demolition of singleroom occupancy units; and the Koch administration's reluctance to find alternatives to the warehousing of people in dangerous, costly public shelters.

Faced with this growing crisis, Mayor Ed Koch revived LaGuardia's campaign to restore order by eliminating itinerant activity in general and homeless people in particular, only without demonstrating LaGuardia's concern for the poor. Koch in effect drew up the blue

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Underground Harmonies: Music and Politics in the Subways of New York
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction - Venturing Down 1
  • Part 1 - Making Music Underground 9
  • 1 - Setting Up 11
  • 2 - The Beat Goes On: History 27
  • 3 - The Partners: Subway Musicians and Their Audiences 48
  • 4 - Boundaries and Bridges: Relationships in Public Space 97
  • Part II - Seeking Harmony Kunderground 123
  • 5 - Music under New York: Official Sponsorship 125
  • 6 - Sounds and Silence: Regulating Subway Music 148
  • 7 - Walking the Beat: Transit Police 170
  • 8 - Music on the Job: Subway Workers 185
  • 9 - Prospects for Change 209
  • Appendix 1 - Subway Homelessness 227
  • Appendix 2 - New York Street Music 234
  • Notes 241
  • Bibliography 255
  • Index 263
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