During the legal battles that followed the 1954 Brown decision, the de jure-de facto binary became the key legal distinction used to define the limits of school desegregation. In recent years, historians have labeled de facto segregation as an evasive and misleading "myth." However, the concept had a long political career before it became a subterfuge. In fact, civil rights activists first invented the concept in an attempt to force legal recognition of segregated schools outside of the South. But in an ironic turn of events, school officials, judges, lawmakers, journalists, and ordinary citizens later appropriated the phrase to deny responsibility for the color line. Thus, what began as an allegation of racial discrimination ultimately became an impenetrable defense of legal innocence. This article recovers the decade of fierce public debates surrounding northern school desegregation by tracing the evolution of de facto segregation from allegation to defense to myth.
This article interrogates the political semantics of neighborhood planning during and after the Second World War. It argues that as much as a geographical substrate for social and spatial planning, the neighborhood was an organizing principle in agendas of urban political reform in the 1940s and 1950s. Taking the case of Rotterdam, a severely bombed city that suffered from warfare in many respects, this article discloses the languages of political reform that informed an agenda of revitalizing urban democracy within the framework of the neighborhood. Two intertwined trajectories, encompassing public and private initiatives to institutionalize modes of neighborhood politics and democracy, will show how notions of democratic citizenship and the post-war institutional design of urban governance became irreconcilable in Rotterdam, but had a lasting impact on twentieth-century urbanism.
The article explores one of the most important tropes in twentieth-century urban planning discourses: the "human scale." Drawing from printed and archival sources from Sweden and Germany, it demonstrates how, in the 1930s and 1940s, this metaphor provided urban planning experts—architects, social scientists, and housing reformers—with an important epistemological framework: it helped them define the social in technical terms and thus substantiated ideas about the malleability of society by means of spatial intervention. In practice, in both countries, the human scale informed schemes for a decentralization and delimitation of the urban fabric. Neighborhood units or settlement cells, as they were called in Germany, were to correlate with—and thus reinforce—"organic" social entities: primary groups like families and small communities of neighbors. Planners were attempting to re-calibrate urban agglomerations to what they perceived as measurable, natural social entities. They were compiling anthropometric data, claiming that quantifiable dimensions like the "pram-pushing distance" were ideal criteria in delimiting the built environment. Such data even crossed borders between political systems as different as those of the Nazi-"Third Reich" and the social-democratic "People’s Home" in Sweden. Thus, notwithstanding the great differences regarding its political implication, analyzing the semantics of humanization in urban planning helps explain transnational efforts to "engineer" the social to overcome the disorder attributed to modernity itself.
This article examines how midcentury European sociologists, planners, and architects mapped the existing city to build future communities. The neighborhood unit concept spread globally in the first half of the twentieth century. In Europe, its deployment was supported not just by modernist planning principles but by sociological abstractions of community life. Current scholarship emphasizes how these modernist principles were contested by sociologists. The present article demonstrates instead that sociological mapping was instrumental in making the concept of community legible and operable in the postwar European city. During the 1940s, mapping social relationships in urban space was increasingly thought to reveal "authentic" community life in working-class urban neighborhoods, which previously were dismissed as chaotic and promiscuous. Such new sociological mapping shaped, if often only implicitly, the planning and design of modern housing estates and New Towns across Europe and thus connected representations of bottom–up, grassroots communities to an essentially top–down planning apparatus.
This article focuses on the problematic relationship between planning experts and society on the basis of the careers of two German architect planners who relocated to the United States during the interwar period: Walter Curt Behrendt (1884-1945) and Oscar Stonorov (1905-1970). Their transatlantic careers highlight the cultural background that shaped planners’ focus on community building and let us trace how technical experts adapted their professional language and re-contextualized their concepts in the process of migration. Across national borders, these experts presented community life as an alternative to urban industrial modernity. Behrendt’s notion of government-backed planning clashed with the realities of the American sociopolitical system. Stonorov, however, developed a planning language focused on participation that was compatible with American democracy. After they had joined ranks in a transnational effort to deal with the consequences of modernization, technical experts like Behrendt and Stonorov re-negotiated their continued presence in all areas of the social in the 1940s and 1950s. This, too, happened in a transnational setting.
This introductory text presents the overarching question that informs the articles in this special section: How have notions of neighborhood and community determined urban planning discourse and practice in mid-twentieth century Europe? Against the backdrop of World Wars, crises and recovery schemes, aspirations to repair – or create – social cohesion among urban dwellers were manifest in the parlance and actions of a range of historical actors, many of which were at the heart of urban planning and reconstruction: architects, sociologists, administrators, planners and local officials. This special section covers different temporal and geographical contexts in Europe (and the US) to disentangle multilayered notions of ‘the social’ that have permeated neighborhood and community planning schemes. Moreover, taken together, the articles will show how persistent dichotomies in urban planning historiography, such as top-down versus bottom-up or organic versus mechanic, obscure historical understandings of how urban communities were conceived spatially, socially and politically.
A recent article in this journal examines the process of urbanization in Spain, and although the authors consider some of the cultural underpinnings of such evolution, their focus favors political and economic factors. The impact of cultural factors on the evolution of urban spatial patterns cannot be overlooked. In this article, I undertake a review of the rich Spanish urban historiography and propose the use of the concept of third space, drawn on cultural studies, as a tool for understanding how Spanish urbanism has evolved in contexts of crisis and changing frames of reference. It aims to (1) build a comprehensive narrative of the main cultural paradigms behind Spanish urbanism, (2) propose a basic conceptual umbrella for its interpretation, and (3) account for local particularities as much as general trends, using as an example the city of Seville.
Troubling partnerships between the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and criminal informants during the mid-1920s adversely impacted urban African American women’s daily lives. Part of multiple hierarchies of municipal corruption, undercover surveillance operations represented one of many apparatuses law enforcers employed to criminalize black women’s ordinary behavior, to reinforce Progressive era images of black female criminality and promiscuity, and to deny women of their personhood and civil rights. Black New Yorker and criminal informant Charles Dancy, identified by local black newspapers as a vicious con artist and serial rapist, figured prominently in undercover police operations. Dancy falsely identified black women as sex workers and had them arrested, and in the process sexually assaulted women. New York blacks were outraged by some NYPD members’ use of informants as well as black women’s erroneous legal confinement. Situating informant work within the context of police brutality, racial inequity, and the denial of American citizenship, New York African American race leaders, newspaper editors, and ordinary folks devised and took part in resistance strategies that contested police surveillance operations and spoke on behalf of those who were subjected to state sanctioned violence.
Discussions of urban representation have been hampered by a persistent contrast between the view from above and the view from street level, or between the urban planner’s panoptic gaze and the flâneur’s fleeting glance. This article challenges such contrasts by identifying a third way of representing a city, that of moving block-by-block along the length of its main thoroughfare. It traces the emergence of what it calls the "longitudinal view" back to antebellum New York, when tour guides and urban sketches promoted the "walk up Broadway" as a means to encompass the social and functional diversity of the expanding metropolis, and when visual genres such as the moving panorama and the pictorial directory offered a virtual simulation of that journey—one that echoed the perpendicular perspective of an omnibus passenger. It concludes by exploring the subsequent appropriation of the longitudinal view by artists, photographers, and filmmakers.
In late 19th century and early 20th century South Africa, public panics about black men who raped white women (the "black peril") provided a potent framework for mobilizing racial nationalism. The experiences of women who attempted to prosecute sexual assaults, however, were more complicated than the black peril panics might suggest. In the port city of East London, the English-speaking elite who dominated the judicial system judged women according to norms of respectability derived from middle-class British culture. Both black women and poorer white women, particularly German and Afrikaans speakers, found it difficult to measure up to these standards and, as a result, were rarely believed when they brought forward complaints of rape. This skepticism of rape complaints persisted even when white women accused black men of rape, since the typical victim in such cases was a white woman whose social life already transgressed the racial boundaries required by respectability.
Although cities were not new to Africa and the Americas, slave trading and imperialism produced a particular phenomenon: the modern colonial city. These new sites were supposed to broadcast the power and interests of colonial states and societies. Yet, Africans and people of African descent left indelible marks on modern urban life. Research has demonstrated that cities, even in the metropole, were transformed by enslaved women and men, immigrants, refugees, and laborers. These articles discuss the ways women and men shaped cities as property-owners, litigants, activists, and intellectuals and engaged broader questions of identity, belonging, and citizenship. People circulating through the Atlantic world also inhabited cities as gendered, sexual, and affective beings who actively conceptualized ideas about pleasure, morality, respectability, and desire. These articles on New Orleans, Louisiana; East London, South Africa; Marseille, France; and Dakar, Senegal reveal unique approaches that integrate gender and urban studies in an Atlantic world context that considers connections between Africa, the Americas, and Europe. This introduction discusses the shared themes and contributions to the scholarship the authors make while pointing to potential new directions in research.
Through Cuba and other points, the Haitian Revolution drove thousands of free women of color to New Orleans between 1791 and 1810. This significant influx coincided with the Louisiana Purchase, tripling the city’s Francophone free black population at a transitional moment. Through a close analysis of testaments recorded by refugee women soon after their arrival, this article investigates the gendered strategies they employed to survive their dislocation and rebuild their lives. Wills serve as a valuable source to uncover the social networks utilized by refugees resettling in New Orleans. The relationships captured in wills indicate how the process of migration both reproduced and transformed social relations from Saint-Domingue. Testaments also illuminate the spatial components of the testators’ relationships, enabling a reconstruction of refugee women’s social geography. Mapping these networks exposes where (re)connections occurred in the city and emphasizes the ways in which free women of color refugees shaped the development of New Orleans.
Between 1921 and 1939, the border separating Detroit, Michigan, from Windsor, Canada, represented a key site for undocumented immigration on America’s northern border, and the migrants in question were European. This essay examines industrial urban America in the wake of 1921 and 1924 Immigration Acts to reveal the effects of restriction and policing on America’s emerging welfare state. It finds that in Detroit, after federal policies gave nativism the force of the law, local smuggling, policing, and enforcement practices branded foreign-born Europeans as illegal regardless of their legal status. During the New Deal Era, when the federal government built America’s welfare system, the stakes for belonging to the nation-state became higher than ever. In this moment of transition, local actors drew on rhetoric connecting foreigners to crime and dependence to urge federal policymakers to tie welfare benefits to citizenship. These local initiatives in Detroit and across the nation prompted the federal government to purge non-citizens from the Works Progress Administration, the new welfare program most associated with dependence and relief. Ultimately, this essay argues that a shift in national mood about foreignness in urban America took hold of the United States in the 1920s and shaped federal welfare policy by the 1930s.
World War I played a key role in shaping modern housing policy. While in the pre-War era, there was virtually no housing policy, hostilities led to an almost immediate and comprehensive state intervention in the housing market, particularly among those engaged in the war. Originally, Russia went the same way as the other countries. However, after the communists seized power in November 1917, they started conducting a different policy reflecting their specific objectives. These differences become apparent when Soviet Russia is compared with Germany—a large European market economy that faced similar challenges: the devastating consequences of World War I, hyperinflation in the early 1920s, and the dictatorship regime of the 1930s. Thus, the diverging characteristics of the housing policy of both countries can to a large extent be attributed to the ideological differences between the centrally planned and the market economies.
With the introduction of the horse-drawn tramway in 1871, the citizens of Istanbul were forced to reckon with a new type of public space—the crowded confines of the tramcar. This article focuses on the removal of a curtain that separated men and women on public transit in 1923, analyzing the discourses that shaped the decision and the way in which gendered discourses around public transit were altered at the outset of the Turkish Republic by the curtain’s removal. Building on the work of Lauren Berlant and Alev Cınar, I suggest that the tramcar constituted an intimate public sphere and site of negotiation in which citizens came to both confront and negotiate modern problems ranging from morality to fashion in a way that was functionally different from other public spaces.
Residential clubs for women in Progressive Era urban America offered protection against risks in the city. This article is an investigation into the relationship between perceptions of risk, built environments, class, and political ideology at two such clubs in Chicago. I merge theories of risk with Bourdieu’s notions of fields, symbolic violence, and symbolic labor to establish two new concepts: risk ideology and risk emplacement. Risk ideologies are sets of ideas about what and where is dangerous. Risk emplacement is the process through which social actors align risk ideologies with certain places and places with particular risks. I argue that these concepts address a general concern in urban history: how built environments organize populations and how aesthetic concerns are distinct from—yet often work to reproduce—class and political ideologies.
When in the mid-1950s, the shopping center typology reached the Low Countries, it confronted governments, policy makers, architects, and planners with the question of how to introduce and adapt this novel commercial typology to the local context. To respond to this question, several "missions" were organized to study this phenomenon abroad. The conclusion was that two distinct shopping center paradigms existed: the American model, as it could be observed in the United States and Canada, and the European model, as it had emerged in Sweden, France, and Great Britain. This article investigates what these missions identified as the distinctive characteristics of these two shopping center models, and which specific recommendations regarding urban and suburban retailing and distribution were derived from them. Finally, the article examines how these suggestions were implemented in or translated into the first shopping center designs in the Low Countries: "Shopping 1" in Genk (Belgium) and Amstelveen shopping center in the Netherlands.
Urban spaces and streets have been studied in a variety of ways in Montreal and Paris, but rarely have historians examined the specific relationship between the function of the street and social usage to reflect changes over time. The argument here is for an analytical approach to photographs combined with textual evidence to reveal the urban processes affecting the retail streets of rue Notre-Dame and rue Sainte-Catherine in Montreal, the through street of Boulevard de Sébastopol, and the pedestrian street of rue Mouffetard in Paris. Photographs reflect the success of modern urban transformations to rework the images of the city from various perspectives and for different purposes. They include the bourgeois female shopper on the late nineteenth-century retail and through streets, female retail and office workers interspersed among men on early twentieth-century rue Sainte-Catherine, and the agency of working-class women in the market transactions and peddler trades of rue Mouffetard.
This article describes a squatter settlement that arose in Belgrade between the two world wars and the communities that lived in it and fought for their right to housing. At the end of the war in 1918, a completely new phenomenon appeared in Belgrade—the squatter settlement. Jatagan-mala was the largest and best known among them. It is used as a case in point to analyze the municipal authorities’ attitude toward squatter settlements and their residents. It is shown how Belgrade Municipality threatened to demolish Jatagan-mala and then partially tore it down, and how it dealt with those who, as a result, were left without a roof over their head. The article also describes the residents’ battle not to lose their homes. Organized and strong in the beginning, over time, their efforts flagged, and in the end, they haggled over monetary compensation for their demolished homes.
Beirut’s city center, Sahat al-Borj, has been the receptacle to many historical events, which shaped its current identity, such as repeated wars and other violent events such as tsunamis and earthquakes. These events affected the Square’s identity and the national identity and culture of Lebanon, and led to the creation and evolution of Sahat al-Borj from a cosmopolitan city center in the 1950s and 1960s, to a demarcation line between East (Christians) and West (Muslims) during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) to an abandoned city center since 1990. Like Derrida’s khōra, the sites of Beirut and Sahat al-Borj both have interior qualities and are receptacles of repeated wars and violent events. In Lebanese, both the city and the city Square are referred to with a feminine pronoun: hiyeh or "she" in Lebanese and elle in French. In Arabic and Lebanese, the nouns Sahat (a square, is an open space; open to a diversity of activities) and Mdineh (city) are feminine, giving both feminine connotations. This gendered pronoun accruing to cultural practices humanizes the Square and personalizes its identity and its occupation by referring to the city and its center as "she" or "her." In Anglophone societies, city squares are usually referred to as "it" in English and do not have feminine or masculine genders or "character" attributed to them, unlike French, Arabic, or Lebanese. Through a series of historical cartographic maps and images collected from different library archives in France and Lebanon, this article will explore the human occupation of the Square throughout history and will examine the urban site of Beirut as a container of events and a transitional "non-place" with feminine and interior qualities with a specific reference to Derrida’s khōra. Although there are many interpretations of Khōra, like Derrida’s Khōra, in this article, the interior is explored as a receptacle associated with the feminine, the container, which receives human’s occupation.1
During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the photographic visualization of the Belgian city of Ghent is closely connected to its urban planning. On one hand, the city is transformed according to the logics of industrial modernization with its functional and spatial zoning. On the other hand, the city’s historical heritage is rediscovered and many medieval buildings were preserved and restored. The planning history of Ghent is usually described in two stages: first, the "Haussmannization" of the city, the creation of boulevards and vistas according to the model of Brussels and Paris, and second, the return to regionalism and a picturesque sensibility during the preparation of the 1913 World’s Fair. The photographic representation of the city seems to mirror this evolution, exchanging the image of the city as a series of isolated monuments for a more sensory and immersive experience. However, a close look at a broad range of images produced by both foreign and local photographers allows us to nuance this assumption. Particularly, the work of Edmond Sacré, who photographed Ghent over half a century, combines a "topographical" and a "picturesque" sensibility.
The bastides of Languedoc form a significant sector of medieval urban history, yet their descriptions are often clouded by conflicting opinions and anachronistic views. This article aims to clarify some of the confusion about the word "bastide" through an etymological study and examination of charters in which the word was first used to designate new towns. The economic and political contexts preceding the bastide foundations are equally important. The bastides did not appear in southwestern France as an ex novo phenomenon ; rather, they followed on the heels of experiments in residential development and in a monetary economy that had been ongoing for two centuries by the counts of Toulouse.
Over the course of the 1970s, liberal and conservative officials in Los Angeles worked to reform a juvenile justice system they believed to be too lenient on children and teenagers who committed crimes. They intended for diversion programs, vocational training, and rehabilitation measures to complement punitive approaches of surveillance, arrest, and incarceration. By posing rehabilitation as complementary to imprisonment, liberal officials contributed to the development of a dual system of juvenile justice. As a result, the carceral state extended beyond the formal criminal justice system and into a range of other institutions, such as schools and social welfare agencies. The two-tiered system, however, also drove the criminalization of black and Latino youth by focusing punishment on them. In contrast to white suburbanites, who were treated as status offenders, black and Latino kids and teenagers received juvenile criminal and court records and increasingly came into contact with an expanded juvenile justice system over the course of the 1970s.
Current ideas about the "agency" of cities are dominated by economists and economic geographers who point to agglomeration economies and the clustering of institutions, if not to "creative classes" and a tolerant and diverse cultural climate. In this article, such views will be historized and denaturalized. It will be examined how "urban agency" was fabricated in the late medieval and early modern period, stressing the role of political philosophy and epistemology. First, focusing on guilds and artisanal economic actors, I will describe the coemergence of specific types of skills and knowledge and the urban as a community and body politic. Subsequently, I will argue that the city as an "assemblage" transformed drastically during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, showing that the transformations concerning both the political and economic identity of guild-based artisans and the city as a specific political community were contingent on specific attitudes and practices related to matter and materiality.
Syrian immigrants populated New York’s Lower Manhattan, creating a neighborhood known as Little Syria. Sources employ "mother colony" and other evocative terms to highlight the unique importance of New York’s Arabic-speaking enclave to Syrian immigrant settlements throughout the United States. Yet no scholarly monograph on Little Syria, covering the entire period of its existence, from approximately 1880 to 1946, has been published. This article argues that early Syrian immigrants used their distinctive ethnicity to economic advantage within this urban enclave but exited its unhealthy environment as soon as they could. Like others, Syrians found unparalleled opportunities for mobility and financial success in New York. Manifesting an Arabic culture and an affinity for the middle class, they left Little Syria behind, and made no concerted attempt to preserve the old neighborhood. They embraced ethnicity as an economic virtue but distanced themselves from ethnicity as an environmental burden.
Since World War II, and especially since the1970s, cities have increasingly relied on municipal bonds as a crucial source of income. At the same time, the bond rating agencies have exerted more influence on potential investors—a development with significant consequences for the nation’s cities. The need for elected officials to measure their actions against possible rewards and punishments imposed by the bond rating agencies allowed private businesses to shape public policies in distant places impervious to the mandates given democratically elected local governments. This paper examines the challenges faced by public officials in three cities (Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit) because of the power wielded by bond rating agencies.
In the seventeenth century, Dutch charitable institutions were the subject of international praise and the object of civic pride, and their public facades communicated a message of central importance to its citizens. In this essay, I examine the iconography of seventeenth-century "gates of charity," focusing on the almoner’s orphanage in Gouda and the Holy Ghost orphanage in Leiden. I relate them to other orphanages in the Dutch Republic to show developments in their iconography. The facade decorations demonstrate the responsibilities of the city as benefactor, the expectations of its citizens and the supposed effects of charity upon the community. At the gates, the worlds of the rich and the poor collided. Here, charity could flourish making the community a mirror image of the heavenly realm. The gate portrays the perfect society as one that assists its poor and strengthens its communal ties.
In the 1920s and 1930s, three factors contributed to Bogotá’s urban and architectural development: first, the deepening of urban contradictions that gave rise to considerable public concern around health, security, morality, and poverty in the city; second, the organization of meetings on public improvements that inspired the first urban planning processes, such as Bogotá Future; and third, the favorable economic conditions that enabled the development of public works and private projects, such as new residential neighborhoods for middle classes outside of town. We show how the first residential neighborhoods for modern middle classes in the Arzobispo River basin, in the northern part of Bogotá, emerged.
Ethnic suburban settlement has shaped suburban landscapes in contrasting ways. On one end are ethnoburbs, where ethnic groups used spatial politics to assert their rights of ethnic expression in the landscape. On the other—less noticed—end are places where ethnic settlers arrived en masse, and their presence was scarcely visible. This article focuses on the latter, towns where ethnic suburbanites consented to existing design mores—what we term design assimilation. Using case studies from Asian American suburbs of the west and east San Gabriel Valley, we explore the history of places where Anglo design aesthetics persisted in the midst of profound demographic change. Multiple factors created and protected these landscapes, including stringent regulatory cultures of these suburbs, white political action, accommodations by builders, and Asian American consent. Asian suburbanites supported these landscapes for aesthetic, nostalgic, political, and economic reasons, including the belief that American landscape aesthetics conveyed a social distinction that positioned them above those around them—including other Asians in the ethnoburbs. Our work shows how suburban advantage has been reinforced by new waves of immigrant suburbanites, in ways that reflect the inequities and spatial expression of globalization itself. This work offers a new perspective on immigrant suburbanization and its interface with suburban "landscapes of privilege."
This article argues that ordinary black women were profoundly committed to respectability during and following the Civil War. This devotion to respectability can be seen in three key areas as these women sought to keep orderly homes, demonstrated a commitment to lawfulness, and worked to attain economic independence. Far from being the sole domain of the middle class, African American women from all backgrounds were strongly attached to respectability during this period because it provided them with a code of behavior that would not only improve their own lives but would also presumably force whites to see them as equals. Although this adherence to respectability never brought widespread social acceptance from whites, black women’s commitment to respectability resonated with the ambitions of a large proportion of black New Yorkers from varying class backgrounds. In addition to embracing the behaviors of respectability in their daily lives, it is also clear that many African American women engaged in forms of anti-discrimination protest rooted in respectability. In particular, women’s commitment to financial independence undergirded their efforts to seek economic restitution. In this article, we explore the ways in which ordinary black women fought for economic redress, and we examine the responses of local and federal officials to their claims. As black women demonstrated their commitment to respectability by demanding the compensation they were promised, government officials often tried harder to repress them. These negotiations between ordinary black women and government officials demonstrate how black women fought against racism and structural inequality at a time of increasing discrimination in the country’s largest urban center.
This essay aims to historicize urban theorist Richard Florida’s influential formulation of the "creative class" by focusing on the emergence of a high-tech economy in North Carolina’s Research Triangle metropolitan area. In the 1950s, a powerful coalition of academics, businesspeople, and politicians launched a plan to move the state away from its traditional reliance on low-wage industries by founding a research park between Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, believing that scientific firms would value the park’s proximity to several nearby colleges and universities. The essay argues that local boosters emphasized the area’s cultural opportunities and intellectual climate as major quality-of-life considerations not only for high-tech companies, but also the scientists and engineers that they hoped to employ. Research Triangle Park thus created a blueprint for subsequent development strategies—later promoted by Florida, among other scholars and consultants—that made arts, education, and other cultural institutions central to the marketing of an urban area’s identity.
This article reconsiders the relevance of tolerance to urban history in the Southern United States. It examines the surveillance of commercial and residential spaces considered morally suspect by white authorities in post–World War I Asheville, North Carolina. Policing practices involved objects of suspicion in the management of order within pawnshops, dance halls, and African American neighborhoods. The regulation of such suspect spaces distributed the responsibility for surveillance to many actors. Pawnbrokers, dance hall operators, and prominent African Americans all were enlisted and enlisted themselves in policing networks. Participants’ involvement in such efforts at times facilitated their claims to self-regulation. These networks, however, did not remove white authorities’ suspicions from either the spaces or the individuals who surveilled them. Instead, the arrangements scrutinized here supported those suspicions. Examining the contradictions of these arrangements demonstrates how tolerance informed urban governance within the context of white supremacy.
The grain provisioning of the Ottoman capital city Istanbul for the subsistence of its considerable population, including the court, the military, and the religious institutions, was maintained through the same location on an extramural landing square along the wharfs of the Golden Horn from the mid-fifteenth century up until the mid-nineteenth century: the Unkapanı. This article addresses the urban architecture of Istanbul Unkapanı as an illustration of the Ottoman official distribution centers referred to after public weighing scales as kapan. Here, the buildings constituting the Unkapanı—the great magazine as the hall of the public weighing scale for grain, the mosque, and the tradesmen council house (dîvânhâne or cardak)—are identified and represented on the evidence of the original textual and visual sources, while the urban patterns through the landing square from the wharfs to the city gate are mapped.
This article examines how residents from two disparate, central Houston, Texas, neighborhoods—the white and wealthy Courtlandt Place and the predominately black, mostly lower-class Third Ward—responded to disruptive physical changes caused by highway building in the 1960s and 1970s. To resist highway construction and its aftereffects, residents from both communities embraced a rhetoric and set of actions that turned their homes and streets into political tools. By transforming elements of the built environment from inert materials into arenas in which they could claim and assert political power, the Houstonians examined here crafted a shared set of actions this article frames as expressions of "infrastructural citizenship." While imbalances in racial and economic power shaped the outcomes of these two fights, the common language and action residents found in infrastructural citizenship allowed them to protect their visions of the city and to participate in the planning of its future.
Post–World War II population growth outside Washington, D.C., brought the Potomac River’s watershed under metropolitan oversight. This article examines the history of Loudoun County, Virginia, an agricultural area thirty miles upstream from the District of Columbia, as it faced six proposed urban infrastructure projects between the 1940s and late 1970s. Tracing the history of these proposals reveals the complex interplay between the federal government and its agencies, urban interest groups, local governments, and grassroots environmentalists as each shaped this hinterland’s integration into the Washington metropolis. By underscoring the persistent conflicts between environmental activism, rural boosterism, and metropolitan development within one particular region, this article argues that this process of urban and suburban expansion was often fragmentary, and ultimately dependent as much on national political trends as it was on fragmented regional power structures.
A 1991 reappraisal of property in Atlanta and Fulton County, Georgia, corrected systemic inequalities in property taxation that had subsidized affluent whites during a boom period. Many of those homeowners responded to reassessment by initiating a major tax revolt. The tax revolt failed to stop reassessment but won lasting victory in the political arena. Tax revolt politicians successfully linked the economic grievances of taxpayers to resentments against black political leaders and the poor, replaced older, moderate suburban politics with confrontation, and sped partisan realignment and Republican ascendancy in the state. Historical perspective on the politics of the Fulton County tax revolt supports the conclusion that metropolitics were essential to the development of "color-blind" or "laissez-faire" forms of racial ideology that became the dominant mode of American racial discourse in the post–Civil Rights era.
When the capital of the newly founded Greek State was transferred to Athens in 1834, the former provincial city of the Ottoman Empire had no buildings suitable to house a European capital. Yet, providing it with them proved to be far more complicated than expected, because of the question which buildings should be given priority: those housing the most urgent practical needs of a modern European State, or those underlining the connection of modern Greece to the cultural supremacy of the ancient Greek world? That question led to a continuous wavering between each option, constant changes of plans, and many nonpractical decisions that delayed greatly the organization of Athens as a European capital in functional terms. The originality of the article lies in its relying mainly on unpublished archival sources that throw new light on the creation of modern Athens.
Beginning in the late 1890s, battles erupted along Baltimore’s racial frontiers as African Americans moved into predominately white neighborhoods. This article analyzes the fight to impose residential segregation by focusing on events on the streets. This vantage point reveals a fuller picture of the movement to impose legalized segregation in Baltimore. Attempts to maintain racially exclusive neighborhoods in Baltimore began years before the passage of the West Segregation Ordinances in 1910. A street-level examination emphasizes the violence and racism—often elided in top-down analyses—that were central to the push for legalized segregation. It also demonstrates the significance of grassroots activists in this story. The movement to impose residential segregation was both promulgated and opposed at the grassroots.
Despite its dependence on military investment, large segments of the Sunbelt have always expressed ambivalence toward military housing. From 1941 to 1973, real estate interests served as the primary resistance to the construction of military housing; however, during the 1970s, due to economic changes, tax revolts, New Right fiscal and social policies, and the transformation to the all-volunteer force (AVF), opposition to military housing transferred from real estate interests to homeowners. From 1979 to 1990, the Navy’s attempt to construct military family housing in San Diego encountered angry homeowners who resented the tax exempt status of housing and accused military households of overburdening school infrastructure, reducing property values, and spreading social dysfunction. Demographic changes resulting from the AVF yielded more families and greater ethnic and racial diversity, which failed to align with suburban norms and thereby marginalized service households socially and politically.
Local governments across the United States annually hold tax auctions, in which unpaid property tax bills are sold to investors, who in turn obtain the right to charge interest on those debts or acquire title to tax delinquent property. In Chicago, reforms to Illinois’s tax sales law in 1951 gave rise to a class of investors who reaped millions through fees, interest payments, and, in some cases, acquisition of real estate for the price of a single property tax bill. Tax buying thrived as rates of property tax delinquency rose sharply in the 1970s, especially in the city’s African American neighborhoods, which suffered from discriminatory overassessment. As the city’s fiscal situation worsened, tax buyers wielded greater influence over tax policy and administration. Tax sales shed new light on the making of contemporary municipal fiscal policies and administrative practices, and highlight broader features of capitalism and the state in modern America.
The aim of the article is to examine the process of urbanization in Spain in the long term. Given the delay in the consolidation of Spanish urban history, the contribution of related disciplines, such as art history and urban planning, geography, and economics is also assessed. Careful attention is paid to the identification of continuities and breaks, as well as to the contextualization of the changes in the cities in relation to their role in the national and international context. The article is divided into four parts. First, an introduction to the evolution of urban history in Spain is provided. Subsequent sections analyze the urban process in three stages: the enlightenment reforms and the end of colonial empire (1746–1833), the end of the Ancient Regime and the new capitalist development (1833–1936), and the transition from dictatorship to the integration into the European Union.
"This is a Black Paper," declared BUILD’s statement criticizing the Buffalo Public School system for providing inferior education to black children in Buffalo, New York. Written in 1967 by the community organization, BUILD (which stood for Build Unity, Independence, Liberty, and Dignity), "BUILD Black Paper Number One" was a call for change. Like other black communities in late 1960s America, black Buffalo was caught up in the fervor of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. A "Rust Belt" city, Buffalo was hit hard by deindustrialization, which, coupled with unemployment, segregated housing and unequal education, adversely affected its black community. In 1967, a riot exploded in Buffalo’s predominantly black East Side. This article analyzes statements made by black Buffalonians and argues that Black Power thrived in Buffalo in the late 1960s, through community organizations which attempted to address urban issues that negatively affected African Americans in a postindustrial city.
Historians portray London’s "Magnificent Seven" suburban cemeteries as the first fruits of the urban health reforms inspired by Edwin Chadwick and George Walker. But all seven cemeteries opened before Chadwick and Walker’s work began. What’s more, the city’s new cemeteries were met with a chorus of protests. Why was this? I remove London’s cemeteries from the narrative of health reforms in which they have been anachronistically placed and study them in their own time. It turns out that financial designs prompted their construction, designs that involved a number of previously unexplored, deleterious consequences. These consequences, which historians have overlooked, were recognized immediately by Londoners of the time. Church revenues waned, public parks were enclosed and developed, and the socio-spatial division between the rich west and the poor east widened. Londoners fought hard against the very same cemeteries that recent historians have anointed as the solution to the city’s health problems.
The state authorities of late medieval and early modern Dubrovnik used processions as a cultural tool to create a collective remembrance of traumatic historical experience, such as conspiracy, pestilence, or earthquake. Until the sixteenth century, the commemoration was amalgamated with the saint’s cult ("watermark" model), while in the last two centuries of the Republic the link to an underlying historical event became explicit. This shift may be accounted by the growing dominance of the secular over ecclesiastical authorities, and the increasing ambition of the state to manage its self-representation.
Industrial decentralization in the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first third of the twentieth century is usually presented as a straightforward process in which central city firms built new factories on suburban greenfield sites. The conventional wisdom is that these sites were located just beyond the central city, or adjacent built up areas, on the urban fringe. The essay argues that this view of industrial growth on Chicago’s periphery fails to capture important nuances of capital flow and suggests expanding the current industrial decentralization models to include outlying industrial settlements.
Because of Japan’s large-scale aerial bombing of Chongqing and the surrounding mountainous natural environment during the Anti-Japanese War, shelters became important places where the residents of wartime Chongqing evaded attacks by Japanese planes. In addition, the differences between the public and private bomb shelter facilities reflected the high and low, noble and humble people in the shelters, indicating the social class differences in wartime Chongqing. Shelters, especially public shelters, also provided places for socializing, recreation, and they had political and economic functions. Thus, bomb shelters became new public living spaces. Living in bomb shelters also became an important component of the daily lives of the residents in wartime Chongqing. Discussing their daily lives in the shelter allows us to not only understand and know the diversity and complexity of the daily lives of Chongqing’s wartime citizens but also reveals the significant impact of the all-encompassing invasion waged by Japan at the micro level.
Recently, derelict artifacts of the industrial age such as railroad tracks and gantry cranes have emerged as prominent aesthetic features in New York City’s newest parks. This article documents and analyzes this new practice of historic preservation in three new parks, including the internationally acclaimed High Line. Socioeconomic data confirm that these industrial-themed parks exist in neighborhoods marked by dramatic postindustrial change. I argue that the trends are interrelated: that is, the injection of industrial remains into the city’s cultural and symbolic landscape not only represents the decline of the city’s industrial sector but also reinterprets and legitimizes this decline. The analysis highlights the political nature of historic preservation, which in this case helps nurture support for an elite-led postindustrial agenda in the face of recurring political challenges from progressives.
Lydia Maria Child’s writing on the religious experience of urban life challenges scholarship that only considers the anti-urbanism of antebellum Protestantism. Child’s Letters from New-York considered the possibility of the city as the basis for her own religious experiences and as the frame for encountering other religions. Through the new perspectives offered by the city, Child developed an urban-centric ideal of religious cosmopolitanism.
Proliferating streetlights generated complex emotional responses in modern cities. Drawing on recent scholarship in the history of the emotions, this article argues that examining the feelings of pride and prestige associated with technological innovation, but also of anger and fear when light was lacking or unpleasant, reveals the intimate nature of urban dwellers’ relationship to their environment. Street lighting is often studied as part the networks of infrastructure that gave cities their contemporary form, or as elements of the commercial expansion that made them centers of consumerism. At the intersection of these trends stood the emotional experiences of those seeking to lay claim to the urban night. If the cultural significance of emotions varies according to historical circumstances, comparing the tensions, politics, and atmospheres of streetlights in distant places like Montreal and Brussels suggests that the rapidly changing urban environment of the period produced its own distinct emotional regime.
In late 1960s Chicago, radical black police officers opposed to police brutality created the Afro-American Patrolmen’s League (AAPL). This paper describes the political vision of the AAPL and that of the contemporaneous, path-breaking black television series Bird of the Iron Feather, which was inspired by the AAPL and created with AAPL members’ input. Both used their positions within white-dominated institutions to present black perspectives on white power. The AAPL and Bird also analyzed gangs, both black and white, as functional parts of a larger, white-dominated, urban "machine" political structure. Their analyses of structural racism, and their understanding of the diverse responses of black Americans living within such a system, uncovered the complexities of black urban life in the mid-twentieth century. Together, they stand as sophisticated expressions of a popular black power vision that eschewed romantic images of revolutionary resistance in favor of careful analysis of and resistance to personal and structural white violence.
The crack crisis of the 1980s and 1990s was a social and cultural tipping point with regards to race and the criminal justice system. The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, a ten-thousand-member, multiracial, faith-based community activist organization, was at the forefront of a local war against crack cocaine in the Bronx during the 1980s and 1990s. Their activism demonstrates that the impetus for the draconian response to crack came not only from law and order politicians but also from minority communities under siege. The Coalition demanded and aggressively lobbied for a punitive response to crack sellers and users from their own communities. These demands were made years before the passage of laws that ushered in a new age of racially discriminatory sentencing.
President Johnson’s War on Poverty encountered significant opposition in southern states where impoverishment and race served to reinforce both social and economic systems. In Memphis, the War on Poverty underwent political attacks primarily aimed at neighborhood organizing. However, two agencies used Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) recruits to implement significant antipoverty initiatives. VISTAs developed a prisoner release–mentoring program and a pretrial release for indigent detainees who could not post bail. The Metropolitan Inter Faith Association recruited savvy local residents to design VISTA services for the poor. The latter drew on local volunteers and reflected a paternalistic approach rather than one that reflected the voice of the poor.
In the post–World War II period, the police department emerged as one of the most problematic municipal agencies in New York City. Patrolmen and their superiors did not pay much attention to crime; instead they looked the other way, received payoffs from organized crime, performed haphazardly, and tolerated conditions that were unacceptable in a modern city with global ambitions. At the same time, patrolmen demanded deference and respect from African American civilians and routinely demeaned and brutalized individuals who appeared to be challenging their authority. The antagonism between African Americans and the New York Police Department (NYPD) intensified as local and national black freedom organizations paid more attention to police behavior and made police reform one of their main goals.
Even though the St. Louis Board of Education established the first high school for blacks west of the Mississippi River, the first facility was substandard. As the black population of St. Louis grew and encroached upon the white residential areas, it became necessary to provide additional school facilities for black enrollment. On several occasions, school officials reluctantly resorted to the conversion of school buildings from white to black use. During the decades of the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s, the St. Louis Public Schools district experienced a tremendous increase in the black student population. School conversions were prompted by civil protests and demands by the black community. The conversion (from white to black) of a school building’s use, in some instances, tended to elicit the ire of the affected white parents.
Oral histories of the Hurricane Katrina experience abound in stories of conscious decisions to "ride out the storm." My article explores the narrative of "choosing to stay" as an empowering narrative rooted in assertions of place-knowledge and traces its historical genealogy to the nineteenth century. I argue that claiming agency in New Orleans and articulating a sense of belonging and local identity through professed intimate knowledge of the local environment took shape as a strategy of resistance against dominant discourses of American progress after the Civil War. Ultimately, this counternarrative of connecting to place as "homeland," drawing on knowledge arising from lived experience, defied the normative twist of modernization, simultaneously reformulating power relations within the city. "Choosing to stay" thus turns out to be a long-lasting narrative not only of disaster, but of place, belonging, and community; without understanding its historical layers, we cannot fully make sense of this particular Katrina narrative.
This article examines the fate of Shanghai industries during the Civil War period in China. It argues that in spite of extreme difficulties in the later part of the war, Shanghai industries bounced back very quickly and reached early wartime levels within a year. Thereafter, a series of economic and political restrictions led to a slowdown, then a paralysis. The article is based on a large and unique survey of Shanghai industries published in October 1947, probably the peak of the economic recovery after the war. The data were processed in geographic information systems that the author implemented to examine what industry represented in the urban space, what its impact was, and how it defined the city of Shanghai. The author contends that issues of security more than economic factors determined the particular industrial geography in the city.
Civic boosters advocate physical arts development as a path for urban revitalization. Current research examines these specialized bricks and mortar efforts through snapshot outcome evaluations, broad policy analyses, and critiques of predatory activity. Project development is overlooked as is whether such efforts mirror general urban development patterns and behavior. This case study explores a successful dual-nonprofit partnership between the Seattle Art Museum and the Trust for Public Land to build the Olympic Sculpture Park. This recent history explains institutional motivations and political strategies and identifies organizational assets employed to overcome intense market pressures and past failures. It adds richness to conventional development wisdom and its intense focus on public–private partnerships as the prevalent model for urban development. This alignment between a local arts institution and a national conservation organization may unveil an alternative model or shed light on a less visible structure for developing urban civic amenities. This study further reinforces the connection between contemporary urban improvement and early beautification agendas via municipal art, open space, and civic leadership.
Attitudes toward fresh air and fear of stenches guided choices that restructured and changed the urban environment and governance between 1840 and 1880. This study of olfactory-inspired reforms demonstrates the cultural significance of nuisance beyond the courtroom. City dwellers used their understanding of stench nuisance as detrimental to health to construct smellscapes or olfactory maps of New York City. Such maps identified health threats and guided movements through or out of the city. These maps proliferated before and after the creation of the Metropolitan Board of Health in 1866. Sanitarian concern about stenches echoed lay concerns, and encouraged the creation of standing health boards. These boards mapped air currents that crossed political boundaries rather than pursuing individuals’ stench complaints. Considering individuals’ smellscapes alongside the health board’s maps demonstrates that 1866 was a turning point for the creation of both institutionalized public health and the conflict between lay and expert.
In the early nineteenth century, the (obsolete) Portuguese urban fortifications were frequently ruined and suffering from a gradual desertion around them. With the emergence of patrimonial concerns, those defensive structures began being considered as historical and cultural monuments. As a result, the isolation of these monuments became a common practice that often created public green areas (gardens and parks) framing monuments, giving them a picturesque image. The consequences of these rehabilitation actions on urban fortifications in Portugal are analyzed here, focusing particularly on those that created new public green spaces within and around urban areas. In fact, the shape of several Portuguese cities was conditioned by those interventions: not only were breathing areas conceived in the middle of dense urban masses, allowing their fruition by local populations, but also some ancient urban belts associated with former defensive needs were recovered by those interventions.
When Houston Texas grew from a sleepy, southern entrepot to sunbelt metropolis, the city’s commercial civic elite adopted a systematic approach of organized philanthropy as a way to rationalize giving and bring it in line with modern urban services. As a select set of city builders transformed local giving from random charitable impulses to increasingly complex philanthropic undertakings, their benevolent behavior took many forms, from scientific charity to regulatory action and, finally, to detached foundations. Over time, more rational giving also became more professional and wealthy donors sought a new status—that of philanthropist—and with it, the great cultural authority to address the city’s social problems. Philanthropists in Houston fashioned a number of mechanisms to realize their vision of what the modern metropolis should be. Understanding this vision adds to our knowledge of the multiple voices that derived power and status from their efforts to guide the construction of growing cities.
This article explores the policy conversation and efforts around school integration in Chicago during the 1960s. It analyzes how a conversation that originated in demands for equality for black students was transformed into one about keeping whites in the city and analyzes the consequences of this shift. Worried that integration might produce more segregation as whites fled, the school board responded to the advice of experts and pleas of some white liberals to manage and stabilize integration in racially changing neighborhoods. Civil rights groups tried to keep educational equity for black students forefront in these discussions of integration, but the shift to managed integration put whites’ interests and needs first and stripped the discussion of integration of much of its structural critique. Yet managed integration did not work, undermining support for integration altogether and reinforcing fears and assumptions about the inevitability and undesirability of racial change.
In the historiography of town planning, one still finds the old idea that the straight street is typical for the Renaissance, whereas medieval streets would typically be curved or crooked and irregular. In this article, this idea will be contested with the evidence of the scarce written sources concerning the subject of the layout of the city street from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries and of the urban form of the new towns that were built in that period. It will also be shown that traditional interpretations of the famous passage from Alberti’s De re aedificatoria, which describes the advantages of winding streets as compared to straight streets, are largely wrong. Moreover, it will be argued that the general idea of medieval town building as something completely different than Renaissance town building is not correct.
This article tells the story of a contested provincial election for sheriff which took place in Norwich during 1627. In light of recent scholarly critiques of studies that frame the early-modern period in terms of binary opposites, this article demonstrates that 1620s political culture is hard to define in such stark terms. Through a close reading of the events, characters, and outcomes of the election, this article also shows the importance of embedding local peculiarities into wider historiographical narratives of change, or continuity, and reveals the essential role of the urban middling sorts in shaping the political narratives of the Stuart period.
This article investigates the metaphor of the "living house" and its concrete ramifications on everyday life in late medieval and early modern Europe. For premodern Europeans, the house was an actor that occupied an important and natural role in their social life and in the urban space in which they lived. Human attributes were explicitly assigned to the house: it had a name and life story, displayed bodily features, and was invested with a specific individuality. This article examines the historical origins of this metaphor and why it became particularly powerful in the early modern period. The author then surveys the various expressions of the anthropomorphic understanding of the house, as reflected both in the architectural theory and the popular discourse of the time. The final part addresses the question of why and when this notion of the house as actor began to decline.
This study explores the spatial, social, and administrative conditions that shape Hong Kong’s grade-separated pedestrian networks. The integrated elevated pedestrian network was initially developed to facilitate internal circulation within the commercial centers when the city was undergoing rapid growth in the 1960s and 1970s. The vision was incrementally incorporated into statutory and administrative instruments as the city embraced a consumer-oriented economy. This study tracks the evolving concept of grade-separated pedestrian networks in Hong Kong, revisiting the critical actions and written notes in Hong Kong’s urban history from 1965 to 1997. The private sector was essential in building the multilevel pedestrian space and in making it a commercially viable urban model. An alternative perspective is proposed from which to consider Hong Kong’s public–private conflicts.
This article analyzes the garden city campaign of the International Federation for Housing and Town Planning (IFHTP). Available literature suggests the agenda of the IFHTP was dictated by the British garden city militants who had established the IFHTP in 1913. Although the garden city concept dominated the agenda, its treatment was not static. The agenda evolved in the course of time from town planning on "garden city lines" to true independent garden cities, then from a national garden cities program to satellite towns, and finally merged into the broader concept of regional decentralization. This article demonstrates that the agenda of the IFHTP cannot be adequately framed in terms of exclusive agency of its British initiators. The agenda of the IFHTP, as a transnational network organization, was substantially influenced by the structure and substance of its membership and the wider transnational network society, Saunier’s Urban Internationale, to which it belonged.
This article tells a story about the dynamic discourse of opposing forces regarding the "open housing" debate in Milwaukee in the late 1960s. Letters written by citizens, editorials published by daily newspapers, and statements made by Mayor Henry Maier offer evidence of a multidimensional debate about residential discrimination. On one level, the ideas expressed by citizens in the letters written to Mayor Maier demonstrate that civil and political rights were in combat with property rights. On a broader community level, the daily newspapers in Milwaukee were engaged in a debate with Maier about loftier societal principles and political leadership. Maier constructed a moral argument to support his position as he sought a metropolitan solution to the problem. The editors of the daily newspapers criticized Maier for a lack of leadership on the issue, and they believed that legislation would be a vital step toward real change in the city’s neighborhoods.
The Chicago suburb of Naperville, Illinois, today has over one hundred forty thousand residents and is considered a "boomburb" because of its double-digit percentage growth over several decades. How did it reach this point? Explanations of urban growth—including the Chicago School and political economy perspectives; categories of suburbs, like boomburbs and edge cities; and narratives within Naperville itself—highlight different mechanisms at work. This study considers the factors that influenced Naperville’s growth and how each narrative fits the suburb’s development. The implications for future studies of suburban growth include the unpredictability of growth as it is happening, recognizing the limits of categorizing suburbs, undertaking comparative studies of suburbs across types or within regions, and not relying heavily on analyses of suburban outliers and unusual cases (like Naperville).
In the mid-1970s, the Adams-Morgan neighborhood in Washington, D.C., faced both redlining and gentrification. In response to developer-led gentrification and its accompanying displacement, the Adams-Morgan Organization used the tenant right-to-purchase clause of D.C.’s 1974 rent control law to block the eviction of twenty-six families on one street. Simultaneously, the organization leveraged a community reinvestment campaign against a local thrift to obtain financing for evicted families, resulting in successful purchases and further community reinvestment lending. This research shows that tenant right-to-purchase legislation provided the legal opportunity structure necessary for community organizations to fight redlining and gentrification.
While federal policy makers have pursued "livable" communities since the late 1970s, they have rarely agreed on precisely what "livability" entailed and how best to achieve it. When U.S. Secretary of the Department of Transportation Ray LaHood promised in 2009 to make livability the hallmark of an ambitious interagency partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency—and, in the process, to undo long-standing patterns of auto-dependency—it appeared that LaHood was poised to shift American transportation policy in a bold new direction. And yet other policies, such as those that govern the alignment of highway interchanges serving super-regional shopping malls, continued to promote the dominance of highway-driven economies. This article demonstrates how the failure to confront historic development patterns fostered by the Interstate highway system undermined LaHood’s campaign for livable communities.
In the 1950s, the Tennessee State Highway Department planned Interstate-40 segments through Overton Park in Memphis and a central city black community in Nashville. Although slow to develop, freeway revolts emerged in both cities by the mid-1960s. Citizen activists in each city battled local municipal regimes and downtown business allies, Tennessee state road engineers, and bureaucrats in several federal transportation agencies. In Memphis, the anti-freeway organization Citizens to Preserve Overton Park, led by relentless activist and park preservationist Anona Stoner, outwitted opponents for years with appeals, demands for reviews or modifications, and eventually litigation that ended up, successfully, in the U.S. Supreme Court. In Nashville, the Interstate-40 Steering Committee, a group of black professionals led by Fisk University professor Flournoy Coles, cobbled together an opposition movement at the last moment. Their legal argument that the I-40 expressway through the North Nashville black community represented racial discrimination against an entire community seemed logical in Nashville but failed in the Supreme Court. The goal of this article, then, is to reflect on the impact of the Interstates on American cities, as well as to analyze how and why one anti-freeway movement succeeded and another failed.
World War II yielded many photographs of bombed-out cities. In this paper we telescope between two sets and scales of images that represent the principal frames through which the American and Japanese publics have memorialized the incendiary bombings that laid waste to urban Japan: aerial photographs taken by the US Army Air Forces during its wartime planning, prosecution, and assessment of the raids; and the ground-level images captured by Ishikawa Ko–yo–, a photographer working on behalf of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. By means of a detailed examination of the production, circulation, and consumption of these photographs—what some scholars have called an "archaeological approach" to images of ruination—we explore not only the visual rhetoric and reality of the destruction of Japan’s cities, but also how that destruction is situated in history, memory, and visual culture.
After the Second World War, city halls and local business communities cooperated to forestall urban decline in the face of population, industry, and retail loss to the suburbs and the Sunbelt. Before the U.S. Congress passed laws that established national housing programs, pro-growth coalitions in threatened cities launched programs designed to revitalize central business districts and lobbied in state capitals for legislation authorizing redevelopment efforts. In some notable cases, path-breaking measures crafted at the local and state levels served as models for the national initiatives that followed. Believing in the centrality of improved automobile access to their downtown redevelopment efforts, city leaders and business interests followed the same path in transportation as they had in housing. The case of Detroit illustrates how the drive for downtown renewal began before the federal government assumed the primary role with the passage of the 1956 Interstate Highway Act.
In the latter part of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries, the dominance of the cotton economy was reflected in the growth of textile mills throughout the U.S. South. In Georgia, the number of cotton mills doubled between 1860 and 1900, providing work for down-on-their-luck sharecroppers who needed a regular paycheck. A few of these geographically tiny mill villages, built by mill owners to house the influx of mill workers, were incorporated into official cities in the first two decades of the twentieth century and continue to exist today, despite their small size, economic challenges, and efforts at consolidation. This article examines three of these Georgia mill villages-turned-cities: Aldora in Lamar County, Payne City in Bibb County, and Riverside in Colquitt County. The research focuses on why these cities, adjacent to or within another city, incorporated in the first place and why they continue to maintain governments that at first glance appear to provide little added value to their citizens.
This article examines the racialization of urban space in early twentieth-century Bangkok. After a general strike in 1910, the Siamese monarchy represented itself in urban space as the leaders of a sovereign nation with a racial Other in its midst. Rather than create a separate, walled enclave to contain this population, the monarchy drew on a material and rhetorical campaign to develop two interdependent cities with distinct racial identities. One city was a national capital under the authority of the absolute monarchy. The other was a thriving port city populated mostly by "Chinese" migrants and governed by extraterritorial law. Juxtaposing the built environment against its discursive representations, this article argues that the monarchy sought to endow the dual city of Bangkok and its inhabitants with racial characteristics to clarify national belonging, control the political power of the region’s migrant population, and cultivate support for royal urban investments.
This article examines efforts by the John V. Lindsay administration (1966–1973) to deal with the New York City sanitation crisis of the late 1960s and early 1970s. By this period, the Department of Sanitation could barely function in most low-income neighborhoods of New York City, and this resulted in a series of direct and indirect protest actions. The mass media blamed Mayor Lindsay for the situation and characterized him as an ineffectual city manager. This image has persisted with scholars contending that Lindsay never figured out how to run the city government. This article diverges from these accounts and argues that the Lindsay administration actually rebuilt the Department of Sanitation—a city agency that was operationally breaking down before Lindsay became mayor. In fact, the Lindsay administration popularized the notion that a modern city with global aspirations has to meet the basic spatial needs of its residents and that efficient and responsive sanitation delivery can be achieved through the rationalization of resources and services.
This article uses Cleveland, Ohio, to examine educational reform by focusing on place, institutional change, motives, and results between 1900 and 1930. The study as well as the practice of public education in urban America has been a battleground for "the great school wars." Despite the endless conflicts and debate, public education remains a popular panacea for the ills of urban America. Public schools expanded their programs to meet the needs of urban students, particularly immigrants from southern, eastern, and central Europe and black migrants from the American South during the era of this study. Progressive reformers also campaigned for reforms that would adapt the public schools to an environment that was changing from a commercial to an industrial city. Above all, they championed the next, all-powerful superintendent, enlightened by the "cult of efficiency," to achieve progress and stability in the school system. Urban historians can analyze educational change and the validity of conflicting interpretations by studying local schools within their historical context. The results of progressive school reforms did not often match their promises, but failure and disappointment did not lead to introspection and analysis of their remedies. The majority of students still failed to graduate in the 1920s. Centralized management, social efficiency, vocational and technical education, recreation, Americanization, specialization, intelligence testing, tracking, and quantification became the popular national model for public education between 1900 and 1930. They still constitute the paradigm for public schooling in America.
The embrace of modern architecture by American institutions was historically coincident with many communities’ migration from city centers to suburban environments. This geographic shift, accelerating after World War II, reflected changes in widely held attitudes toward landscape as well as toward architecture. Jewish American groups were especially active in this transition. A useful case study is a design for Baltimore’s Chizuk Amuno congregation, which in 1954 began planning a suburban campus with New York architect Daniel Schwartzman. Among the congregation’s initial requests was a proposal for a "Hebrew Culture Garden," inspired by Cleveland’s ensemble of public ethnic-cultural gardens dating to the 1920s. Chizuk Amuno’s garden project was never realized, but its design and development throughout the planning process illustrate changing sensibilities about public space, cultural consumption, and the balance between religious and secular identities.
This essay investigates the evolution of a progressive consensus that housing had become a citizenship right and a state responsibility in Cuba. This consensus was formalized in the Constitution of 1940, and framed policies of housing construction, slum clearance, and rent control under government administrations from 1940 to 1955. This essay argues that despite general agreement behind these measures in principle, political conflict ensued when they were put into practice, expanding the importance of the political system for stakeholders. Rent controls ensured the centrality of governmental regulation in bitter occupancy disputes, while promises for public housing intensified demands for effective central planning. At the same time, the organization of shantytown residents in defense of their homes meant that slum clearance initiatives provoked charges of governmental incapacity. In sum, housing conflicts reinforced the central role of the state in Cuban society, even as they contributed to mounting social and political instability.
Amsterdam inns were indispensable hubs in the organization of early modern urban trade. Their economic functions were numerous: innkeepers offered credit and transport services, acted as sureties and accepted bills of exchange on behalf of their alien guests. In the sixteenth century, a group of predominantly German innkeepers participated in the international trade, but in the following centuries the combination innkeeper-agent became rare. Publicans continued to assist mercantile clients though. Besides offering storage and transport services, meeting space, and credit, certain publicans also mediated between foreign and indigenous traders. A select group of inns also hosted auction-marts, which attracted brokers, merchants, and general public. In the nineteenth century, the inns lost their appeal and specialized institutions like hotels, restaurants, trade halls, auction-houses, and transport companies took over the economic functions.
During the period from childhood through young adulthood individuals select the occupation that best satisfies their needs based on their values, interests, education, and environment. Arlington County, Virginia, provides an opportunity to study the impact that geography played on occupational choice for one black community during segregation. Using qualitative methods, this article explores the occupational choices of Arlington’s African Americans as Arlington grew from a scattering of farm settlements to a prosperous white suburb of Washington, D.C. Washington’s black high schools offered excellent career training and the government offered Civil Service employment. The arrival in Arlington of the Pentagon building and large numbers of white federal workers provided new sources of employment but obliterated existing farm and factory work. The article concludes that Arlington’s geography, that is, its proximity to the federal government in Washington, had both a positive and a negative influence on Arlington’s African Americans when choosing their occupations.
In 1969, public housing tenants launched a rent strike that shaped federal legislation and helped make housing a central concern of the Black Freedom Struggle. In addition to providing a detailed narrative of the rent strike, this article follows the lives of the rent strike’s three primary leaders—Ivory Perry, the Rev. Buck Jones, and Jean King. Following the rent strike, Ivory Perry worked to curb lead poisoning while Buck Jones sought to reform welfare in Missouri. Later, Jones labored to improve living conditions in East St. Louis, Illinois. Jean King worked with private developers following the rent strike, helping remake the architecture and management of low-income housing. By focusing on how these individuals aided the rent strike, and by following their subsequent life careers, this article demonstrates that the St. Louis rent strike influenced developments central to American low-income housing and black activism in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Historians have recently examined the Civil Rights movement in the North and the links between its nonviolent tactics and the violent protest that erupted in many Northern cities in the 1960s. In 1967, unrest arose in Newark, Detroit, and many other cities. New Brunswick, only twenty-five miles from Newark, experienced protests on two successive nights in July 1967, but averted loss of life and massive destruction of property. The report of the Kerner Commission credited New Brunswick Mayor Patricia Sheehan’s conciliatory approach with averting violence. An examination of the Kerner Commission’s papers suggests a more complex dynamic, one that confirms the mayor’s key role, but also reveals that antipoverty workers, black leaders, and the protestors themselves played significant roles in averting violence. The protestors strategically put pressure on the mayor, and then relented when she promised to improve conditions for the city’s poor and black residents.
This paper explores the case of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1984, where a referendum to publicly fund a domed stadium failed. To do so, the interactions of stakeholders leading up to the referendum are reviewed. Examination of newspaper coverage in the Cleveland Plain Dealer focused on three events—the sale of the Cleveland Indians, the stadium development proposal, and the placement of the stadium issue on a crowded ballot. The team’s sale resulted in the mobilization of powerful stakeholders, but conflicting signals and a lack of consensus from political elites helped to defeat the proposal. Results are then discussed in terms of previous research examining stakeholder heterogeneity in order to understand why the referendum failed in this context.
This article examines the previously unstudied history of Chicago’s nineteenth-century music saloons, tracing their development from transplanted German beer halls to Americanized entertainment resorts to commercial dance halls. Drawing on evidence from scattered newspaper sources, the article documents women’s ubiquitous presence in music saloons as waiters, performers, prostitutes, and patrons and then interprets what their presence reveals about the public role of women in nineteenth century American cities. The women in music saloons asserted considerable social freedom, articulated a public identity that emphasized sexual expressiveness, and helped create a morally ambiguous environment that defied the prevailing Victorian distinctions between respectable and disreputable. In doing so, they helped define what it meant to be a modern city girl. The article also examines the affect that municipal regulation had upon the operation of Chicago’s music saloons. City officials restricted the presence of music and women but only periodically enforced the restrictions. The sporadic enforcement never removed women or music for long but nonetheless structured the social and cultural environment of the city’s music saloons.
This article examines the contested and unprecedented process by which the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad laid tracks through Baltimore’s city streets in the 1830s. Laying tracks in busy thoroughfares raised profound questions about the meaning of urban space and the economic function of the city. Track opponents held that city streets should remain open to free-flowing traffic and condemned railcars for monopolizing public space. Track advocates countered that urban prosperity was rooted in the rapid, efficient movement of goods. This was not a battle of traditionalists versus progressives but a clash between competing visions of urban modernity. Examining these competing urbanisms gives us a window into the spatial dynamics of capitalism and the ways in which industrialization reconfigured local space.
The Haiti earthquake of January 2010 exposed vulnerabilities in Port-au-Prince that made the disaster especially catastrophic. Urbanization in Haiti followed patterns similar to that elsewhere, but unique economic patterns and lack of construction regulations placed the inhabitants of Port-au-Prince in special danger. Migration to the capital intensified under the Duvalier regimes and weaknesses in institutional capacity created unsafe conditions. Agricultural policies and continued high birth rates exacerbated density, adding to high casualties and displacement. This article examines the nature of Haitian vulnerability and surveys literature describing historical influences, beginning in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, that contributed significantly to creating the tragic situation resulting from the earthquake.
As Erin O’Connor recently noted, "Asiatic cholera exposed the frailties of England’s urban industrial structure," and it provided the most serious test of the old Poor Law system in Birmingham. This paper intends to explore the response of the medical, political, and religious authorities of Birmingham to the outbreak of cholera in 1832 as well as the popular reaction to this response. It also seeks to explain why, in Asa Briggs’ words, "Birmingham was almost untouched . . . in the cholera outbreak of 1832 (when there were only twenty-one deaths)" by analyzing the geography, social and political structures of the town, and the medical and moral pathology of the disease. By using the minutes of the Birmingham overseers and guardians of the poor, together with contemporary newspaper reports, the paper seeks to uncover the dramatic and entirely unexpected course of events in Birmingham. It offers an analysis of the city’s response to the disease that challenges interpretations of the unreformed Poor Law as passive and unsympathetic and the unincorporated local authorities as chaotic and corrupt. The episode also sheds light on competing cultural attitudes toward death and disease among the communities that made up early nineteenth-century Birmingham. The only areas where the authorities’ actions were significantly interfered with were those where the poorest (including the Irish) lived. Here, swift removal of corpses clashed with traditional funeral practices and the widespread fear of "burking" by anatomists provoked serious disturbances. The paper concludes that Birmingham was spared the pandemic by the happy combination of location (far from the sea in the pre-railway age), infrastructure (with deep artesian wells supplying most drinking water, in contrast to the reliance on streams and rivers elsewhere in Britain) and the uniquely well-organized response to the epidemic by the overseers and guardians of the poor, the town’s medical practitioners, and the Board of Health, chaired by Samuel Galton. The paper concludes that it was to the country’s detriment that the city’s effective response to the disease was largely overlooked at the time and that it took until 1854 when Jon Snow was able to compare those drinking contaminated and uncontaminated water and draw the conclusions that led to the provision of an effective response to the problem of cholera in the cities of Britain.
This article examines the controversy surrounding the renaming of a street for Martin Luther King Jr. in the city of Zephyrhills, Florida in 2003–2004. By paying close attention to the language deployed during a series of contentious city council meetings, the author traces how Zephyrhills’s divisive history and neoliberal spatial order kept white residents from grappling with the city’s legacy of racism, inequality, residential segregation, and memory of the Civil Rights movement. Ultimately, it reveals Americans’ limited capacity to recognize and discuss race in the post–Civil Rights era.
In 1949 a good government group in Phoenix began a long period of political dominance. Despite winning every mayoral and council election for two decades, during this era the group suffered a major policy defeat, as a grassroots group linked anticommunist fervor and concerns about private property rights to halt the city’s efforts at urban renewal and rehabilitating older urban housing. While this group reflected local concerns, it was also part of a nationwide far-right campaign against urban renewal and the National Municipal League. In Phoenix this campaign delayed establishment of a housing code for a decade, contributing to the further decline of the center city and encouraging suburban growth.
This article based on primary research including collections from the Alan Lomax Collection from the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center, The Chicago Historical Society, The Pullman Company Papers from the Newberry Library, and the recently discovered Michael van Isveldt Collection from Amsterdam, Netherlands, argues that within Chicago’s rapidly developing Black Metropolis between World War I and II, Chicago bluesman Big Bill Broonzy treaded lightly between a world of black and white "Old Settler" ideas and those brought from the South by migrant "New Settlers." By doing so, he helped establish a new dimension of the Great Migrations to Chicago’s Black Metropolis that centered on black creativity and a new kind of entrepreneurialism. This new dimension, moreover, nurtured a new identity in the emerging black urban consciousness that involved, in equal parts, southern cultural pathways and new ones created by city life. Scholarship on the development of Chicago’s Black Metropolis and the Great Migrations to the Windy City has viewed the development of race and class dynamics in terms of power negotiations between Old Settlers, African Americans who arrived to Chicago before World War I, and New Settlers, who arrived after. Each group’s respective approaches to community development, class formation, and racial respectability often clashed. To many scholars of the Black Metropolis, most African Americans fell into one of these two camps and many of the studies on these intercommunity dynamics place the problem in a negative light. An examination of Broonzy’s life in Chicago, however, demonstrates that the lines of power and personal politics in the city of Chicago were fluid and he learned to navigate the city by pushing the boundaries of race, class, and public respectability. By pushing these boundaries, moreover, Broonzy developed an identity based on his blues persona that exemplifies African American community and identity development within an urban environment that moved beyond migrants’ industrial labor purists. Broonzy and probably many others straddled both sides of the Old Settler–New Settler paradigm. A laborer by day and musician by night, Broonzy navigated these two spheres with ease, and he, therefore, reveals an entirely new component of community development within the Black Metropolis.
This article ties the expansion of the (European) welfare state model to Belgian national politicsand exemplifies how welfare state concepts, such as universalism and decommodification, were adopted in the political campaign for Flemish nationalism in a country on its path to federalism. It focuses on the construction of leisure infrastructure in Flanders, the northern (Flemish-speaking) region of the country, and scrutinizes the role that planning, urbanism, and architecture played in the political project that was set up to strengthen the Flemish community and craft a sense of Flemish cultural identity. It furthermore relates these developments to the situation of pillarization in the country and explicates the convergence of these different forces by narrating the developments in one (telling) case study municipality (Dilbeek) in the Flemish border of the capital city.
This article explores the impact of the Japanese invasion of 1937 on Chinese cities. Focusing on Wuxi, one hundred miles to the west of Shanghai, the author argues that bombing was mainly limited to those commercial and industrial areas of the city that had come to define its modern identity. At the same time, municipal authorities also took steps to prepare the city and its inhabitants for war, although these were largely ineffective. However, the destruction of the invasion actually led to changes in urban morphology as the city was rebuilt in 1938. Meanwhile out in the countryside, some towns and villages remained wholly unaffected by the invasion. This exposes the need for a spatial analysis of how violence affects different areas in the city and countryside.