“Fires of Abandonment”

“So the Vice President travels to Europe and Japan, the Secretary of state to the Middle East and Russia, the UN ambassador to Africa. No one of comparable stature comes here.” Chang, pg 24.

As the streets of the Bronx turned into a hell on earth, the government lacked participation to prevent the corruption from the building owners to escalate into such chaos. Countless families were victims of not only the danger provided by the gangs that were forming at the same time, but also from being misplaced from their homes due to the greed of these building owners. These “slumlords” would hire junkies or thugs to set their buildings on fire in order to collect insurance money for the damages. Slumlords as well as insurance companies would benefit from these arrangements as more policies were sold. My question is where was government intervention when entire apartment buildings would burn to ashes and hundreds of families would find themselves homeless on a weekly basis? The government surely failed the citizens of the Bronx to provide a solution to this fast growing problem. The comment of New York’s democratic senator, Patrick Moynihan, “the time may have come when the issue of race could benefit from ‘benign neglect'”, was what finally caught president Nixon’s attention. The government took some action regarding the crisis the Bronx was suffering by cutting back on social services to the inner cities, and by so, removing more than seven fire companies from the Bronx. Unfortunately, this action resulted in what was called “a ‘contagion’ of fires” leaving behind blocks of abandoned destroyed buildings which later on would serve as clubhouses for the developing mass of gangs and cliques.