Middle class losing out in big cities

Story highlights

  • New York City real estate prices are reaching absurdly high levels, especially near Central Park
  • Harry Siegel: Big cities are becoming luxury products for the rich, while middle class is squeezed

Harry Siegel is a columnist and editorial writer for the New York Daily News. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)As a candidate, Bill de Blasio vowed to "turn the page" on the boom of the preceding 20 years that he says created a "tale of two cities," one for the rich and one for the rest of us. Now that he's mayor of New York City, he's learning that's easier said than done.

While the problem afflicts big cities on both coasts, New York City is exhibit A. The real issue under billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg wasn't that the rich got richer -- in fact, de Blasio's expensive plans hinge on that continuing -- but the erosion of the middle class, squeezed out of an hourglass system in which developers, going where the money is, pour their dollars only into the very top of the market with the city taking a cut from that to build a relative handful of subsidized units fo