Uzbekistan: Samarkand Residents Grumble about Arbitrary Urban Renewal Initiatives
It’s as if Robert Moses, the New York City powerbroker who over a five-decade span in the mid-20th century reshaped the US metropolis in his own image, has come back to life and has set his sights on Samarkand – Uzbekistan’s second city.
For visitors, Samarkand is an ancient city and a major tourist attraction. For the Uzbek government, it is a showcase of Uzbekistan’s achievements during independence. But for residents, it is turning into something in between: officials’ arbitrary efforts to give the city a modern look, many residents say, are destroying neighborhoods, causing needless economic dislocation and damaging the city’s ancient heritage.
The brewing controversy in Samarkand is reminiscent of those stirred up in New York by Moses, the city’s public works czar from the 1920s through 1960s who authorized the construction of highways and the building of public housing projects with little regard for how they would impact the existing social and economic infrastructure. Moses died in 1981.
To read the full story