8 October 2011

Occupy Wall Street - Zuccotti Park

Zuccotti park during the Occupy Wall Street protest. Image source.

Zuccotti Park in Manhattan's financial district has become the locus for the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests in the last few weeks. Protesters have gathered, prostested and camped out there to make their demands visible in public. Yet, in contrast to other recent social movements the site of protest is not a public space in its common sense. Zuccotti Park is privately owned, named after a real estate development lawyer who has been active both in governmental affairs and in private development. The park, which is actually a paved plaza, is owned by Brookfield Properties, in conjunction with its ownership of One Liberty Plaza, the adjacent high-rise commercial tower. Arguably the park is a privately owned public space, a quasi public space that is so common in city centres of the great capitalist cities. Nevertheless, and interestingly, the space is still a site to enact democratic action.
OWS's spatial setting is different than those of other urban movements like the arab spring which is closely connected to Tahrir Square for example. OWS' site was chosen deliberately due to its symbolic character, as being right in the middle of New Yorks financial district. The occupation of Zuccotti park IS already the occupation of a piece of Wall Street.
Besides, the park has quickly become a tourist attraction.
Also Peter Marcuse has written a worth reading comment on the protest.
Zuccotti park after the post 9/11 refurbishment. Image source.