After decades of disinvestment and decline, American cities have become desirable places to work and live, especially for young adults in their 20s and 30s. Bloggers, journalists, and authors have documented this trend in cities, both large and small.
Investment and development have followed this population movement into cities and anticipated its continuance. This has raised the concern and sometimes ire of activists, cultural critics, and longtime residents. Once a term relegated to academic discussion, gentrification has entered the vernacular. Rarely does a week pass when I do not read or hear a story detailing the gentrification of a neighborhood or an entire city.
Last week, I visited my hometown, Olean, New York, to attend my younger sister’s wedding. As I walked through the streets and returned to my old haunts, I found myself looking at them in a new light. Robert Lax was born in Olean and he died in Olean.
This last May, I had lunch with Michael N. McGregor, a fellow Fordham University Press author, and talked with him about writing, navigating the publishing process, and organizing a book tour. McGregor was thoughtful, open, and gracious. After our conversation, I purchased McGregor’s book and humbly requested his inscription. Last week, I finally began Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax. I could not anticipate how deeply the book would affect me.
Many Americans celebrate July 4th with cookouts, parades, and fireworks with family and friends. For most, the holiday offers a needed respite from work and a hard-earned opportunity to indulge in food and drink. The day marks our break from the British Empire and our declaration of independence.