Hipsters and Urban Planning

My friend Jim recently told me he had read Urban Planning referred to as a very hipster thing to study in the New York Times recently. I did some searching to try to find the article and could just turn up this article from March about a couple Williamsburg residents who became politicized after hearing about a proposed new development in the neighborhood. The article makes for great comedy, written with tongue firmly planted in cheek:

” In December, they went to a community board meeting where local residents were packed to the rafters […] But one group conspicuously absent, they noticed, was their own. “We say ‘hipsters,’ ” Ms. Wilson conceded, “even though the terminology makes us feel funny.”

In response, the two women took it upon themselves to act as emissaries to the hipster constituency, and to do so in true hipster fashion. Dubbing themselves the Williamsburg Warriors, they set up a Web site, www.williamsburgwarriors.org, “with the help of this hacker dude I was dating for a second,” Ms. Sibley said.

In January, they held a fund-raiser at Savalas, a bar on Bedford Avenue, where they carried around a laptop loaded with form letters to be signed and e-mailed on the spot to the City Council speaker, Gifford Miller. (“It’s easier to get people to a party than to get them to a political meeting,” Ms. Wilson explained.) And they started producing and distributing buttons that said, succinctly, “We’re No SoHo.”

I believe Jim, but I don’t think this is the article he was thinking of. An aside: of course hipsters and urban planning go together, after all both are quintessentially middle class pursuits. The hipster is fundamentally culturally insecure and pursues an ever cooler subculture, and the urban planner is a technocrat, seeking to obtain power though their professional discipline. The truly privileged see little need for either.

Author: Rob Goodspeed


  1. Pingback: S. S. Trudeau » Blog Archive » Why I love my friends?

  2. Jeezus Goodspeed, you’re everywhere. I was searching for info on Williamsburg (I’ve an interview in NYC next week) and here I find your blog.

    In my experience, most urban planners and urban planning students are the furthest thing from hip. But some are. On the other hand, the creative community types seem to be really anti-density/anti-neighborhood change at times. Gentrification? Maybe. How different is that than Ann Arbor neighborhood activists/NIMBYs fighting 10 story buildings? I’m all very torn about such issues lately…

    Then there’s the psychogeographers and the more leftist folks at Planners Network

    In any case, why are “hipsters” and “urban planning” perhaps the two greatest recurring themes in the (ex-) Ann Arbor blog world?

    And for the record, I’m not a hipster.

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