In the cultural epicenter of Brooklyn, New York there is an eight-acre swathe of fallow land. It lies twenty feet below the sidewalk, is filled with railroad tracks, and for many years it was invisible to the people who lived and worked nearby. This land is now commonly known as the Atlantic Yards – officially the MTA Vanderbilt Rail Yard – and is currently dedicated to the occasional storage and servicing of commuter trains from the Long Island Railroad. The Atlantic Yards brand was a gift from the New York City developer Bruce Ratner, head of Forest City Ratner Companies (FCR). In 2004 the Yards suddenly became the site of a bitter public battle between FCR and local residents. FCR had hired the architect Frank Gehry to design an 8.5million-square-foot master plan containing sixteen skyscrapers and a basketball arena. The project was announced to great fanfare and with the support of many important politicians, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Governor George Pataki, and the Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. The Atlantic Yards was a classic 1950s-style urban renewal scheme, but repackaged within the kind of architectural glamor that became standard in New York during the height of the recent real estate boom. The project boundaries included not only the rail yards, but three adjacent city blocks and their intervening streets. Upon the unveiling of the Ratner/Gehry scheme it was announced that any owners within the project boundary would be offered money for their property. Along with the offer came the threat that those who refused to sell would eventually be evicted by the state authorities through the use of eminent domain.1