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Tables of Contents for Urban Society
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UNIT 1. The Urban Frame

1. Fear of the City, 1783 to 1983, Alfred Kazin, American Heritage, February/March 1983

Alfred Kazin examines the age-old threats of the city from a personal and historical perspective. He argues that despite its excesses and aggressiveness, the city possesses an indescribable allure and magic.

2. The Man Who Loved Cities, Nathan Glazer, The Wilson Quarterly, Spring 1999

William H. Whyte, best known as author of The Organization Man, was a brilliant analyst of how American cities and suburbs shape our lives. Like Jane Jacobs, another well-known city observer, he appreciated and developed original ways to document the uniquely urban virtue of density.

3. The Death and Life of America’s Cities, Fred Siegel, The Public Interest, Summer 2002

A generation of reformist urban mayors in the 1990s broke with the policies and perspectives of the last 30 years. Local initiatives helped control crime, improve the quality of life, reduce taxes, and, in some cases, even improve public school systems.

UNIT 2. Sprawl: Challenges to the Metropolitan Landscape

4. What Will it Take to Halt Sprawl?, Molly O’Meara Sheehan, World Watch, January/February 2002

With nearly half of the world’s population living in and around urban areas (compared to 10 percent in 1900), more people than ever are frustrated by traffic congestion and support anti-sprawl initiatives. The Washington, D.C., metro rail system helped to counter sprawl and focus development (including infrastructure) on mass transit; Santiago, Chile’s congestion gave birth to an antihighway coalition called “Living City.”

5. Are Europe’s Cities Better?, Pietro S. Nivola, The Public Interest, Fall 1999

This comprehensive overview of differences between cities in Europe and the United States highlights a wide range of issues—transportation policy, energy costs, crime, taxation, housing policy, and schools—and contrasts the spread of sprawl outside U.S. cities with Europe’s persistent urban density.

6. Is Regional Government the Answer?, Fred Siegel, The Public Interest, Fall 1999

Fred Siegel criticizes the “new regionalists” who link urban flight with blight, arguing instead that what metro areas need are better policies, not fewer governments. He redefines sprawl as “part and parcel of healthy growth” and warns against easy solutions.

7. Sprawl-Weary Los Angeles Builds Up and In, Timothy Egan, New York Times, March 10, 2002

Even Los Angeles, the quintessential metropolitan sprawl, is taking a new approach to get past its characteristic traffic jams and endless highways. Los Angeles built its first subway system in the 1990s, and nearly 4,000 lofts are being developed in downtown office buildings, many of which are being converted to mixed use.

UNIT 3. Urban Economies

8. The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida, The Washington Monthly, May 2002

Creative “knowledge workers” seek out cities (such as Seattle, Washington, Boston, Massachusetts, and Austin, Texas) that support their lifestyle interests: outdoor recreational amenities, historic buildings, vibrant music and cultural scenes, and tolerance of diversity that incorporates gay people and new immigrants.

9. A Bit of a Chill for Hot Times in the Big City, Joel Kotkin, Washington Post, March 24, 2002

Challenging the celebration of urban revitalization, Joel Kotkin cites census data to show that dispersion continues to pull people from the cities to the suburbs and beyond. Even immigrants and young singles move increasingly to suburban areas when they can. And that’s where the high-tech industry, the cutting edge of America’s economy, is located.

10. The Company They Keep, Emily Barker, Inc., May 2000

Managers of urban companies discuss the distinctive challenges in and approaches to hiring and retaining employees. One company provides emergency loans to employees who come up short, while another offers regular opportunities for employees to discuss company policy and procedures with the boss.

11. Feisty Mom-and-Pops of Gotham Strike Back at Drugstore Chains, Laura Johannes, Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2000

Recently “discovered” urban markets lure giant national drugstore chains; they threaten to close down small owner-run stores as they attempt to corner (capture the largest market share in) the previously underserved city neighborhoods. This article shows how one “David” fought back successfully against the Rite Aid “Goliath.”

UNIT 4. Urban Revival

Part A. Financing and Costs

12. Financing Urban Revitalization, Beth Mattson-Teig, Urban Land, March 2002

The national economic downturn has made it more difficult to assemble the varying, complex levels of public and private financing that redevelopment projects demand. Current examples from Cleveland, Dallas, and Washington, D.C., prove that urban economic development is still possible for determined municipalities and developers.

13. Ground Zero in Urban Decline, Sam Staley, Reason, November 2001

Cincinnati’s long decline in population, jobs, and future prospects has led to numerous, mostly misguided, economic development schemes over the years. The riots in 2001 sparked interest in revitalizing the city by building a convention center, despite the fact that the number of conventions is dropping and cannot be shown to benefit the neighborhood. Sam Staley reminds us that cities should stick to their basic functions, such as infrastructure, allowing the market to do its work.

14. Return to Center, Christopher D. Ringwald, Governing, April 2002

Christopher Ringwald describes how some states are moving their offices back downtown from the suburbs as part of a deliberate effort to generate an urban revival. Long-suffering downtowns welcome the returning jobs.

Part B. Downtown Renaissance: Culture, Tourism, and Education

15. New Village on Campus, John Handley, Chicago Tribune, April 28, 2002

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is building a mixed-use, 68-acre development intended to transform this commuter school into a 24-hour campus neighborhood. University Village will be mostly new construction with student housing, bookstores, coffee houses, and university playing fields.

16. Museum Growth Pays Off for Galleries, Laura Meyers, Art Business News, March 2001

When art museums build new structures and satellite venues, they typically contribute not only to urban revitalization but, through the often-overlooked sector of local art-related businesses, to more widely recognized “hospitality” arenas such as cafes and restaurants.

17. Culture Club, Mike Sheridan, Urban Land, April 2002

Kansas City is in the midst of a major, billion-dollar cultural development that includes several art museums, libraries, and theaters. The city sees a strong cultural scene as essential to attracting and retaining businesses seeking to recruit a talented workforce to the area.

18. Midwestern Momentum, Beth Mattson-Teig, Urban Land, April 2002

Midwestern cities, from Chicago to St. Louis to Detroit, are using economic development strategies to create vibrant, 24-hour downtowns. The goal is to revitalize downtowns by balancing business and entertainment components with a strong residential base.

19. A Skid Row Turned SoHo in Downtown New Orleans, Ralph Blumenthal, New York Times, September 4, 2000

Arts are leading the revival of an industrial district in New Orleans, as they have done in cities such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Newark. Paradoxically, New Orleans’ revival sprouted from an earlier, failed effort—the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition. Local residents, galleries, shops, and restaurants now inhabit spaces that were vacant until recently.

Part C. Immigration

20. Saving Buffalo From Extinction, David Blake, City Limits, February 2002

Buffalo lost about 10 percent of its population in the 1990s, but attracts many temporary refugees traveling from Canada (with its more open asylum laws). Some local leaders, aware of the substantial contributions that immigrants have made to other cities they have lived in, pin their hopes on the refugees to lead a much-needed economic as well as demographic revival.

21. Chinatown Returns to Center Stage, Kerrie Kennedy, Chicago Tribune, January 20, 2002

Chicago’s Chinatown is being revitalized; upscale housing is being bought as fast as it is built. Chinese and Chinese-American professionals, business people, and retirees who have made it financially and socially now choose to live in Chinatown, where almost everything is in walking distance and it is easy to meet friends.

22. Movers & Shakers, Joel Kotkin, Reason, December 2000

Immigrants in Los Angeles are breathing new life into city neighborhoods that had been moribund. Immigrant residents and entrepreneurs have rescued dilapidated neightborhoods in every city to which they have migrated.

UNIT 5. Urban Policies and Politics

23. Mayors and Morality: Daley and Lindsay Then and Now, Fred Siegel, Partisan Review, Spring 2001

Fred Siegel teases out the ironies in the reversal of reputations of Mayors Richard J. Daley (the father) and John Lindsay, highlighting their very different approaches to the role of race in city life and politics. The contrasts are embedded in the shifting fortunes of cities and urban policies during the second half of the twentieth century.

24. Complicating the Race, Jonathan D. Tepperman, New York Times Magazine, April 28, 2002

Newark’s 2002 mayoral election pitted “postpartisan” Cory Booker (a graduate of Stanford, Yale, and Oxford), who is racially black but politically cosmopolitan and universalist, against long-time mayor and old-style, black-identity politician Sharpe James. In a bitterly contested race, James managed to barely hold onto his job as the highest-paid local official in the United States, but the campaign suggests a different future for local politics.

25. Beyond Safe and Clean, Bridget Maley, Cathleen Malmstrom, and Kellie Phipps, Urban Land, February 2002

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) began as mechanisms to promote safety and cleanliness in urban areas. Now that they have achieved their initial goals, some BIDs help guide the work of historic preservation, a common element in urban revitalization efforts in their areas.

26. Sticking With the Seattle Way, Harry Siegel, The Weekly Standard, December 3, 2001

Seattle, the urban capital of the Internet economy, has fallen on hard times. But in a 2001 mayoral election, voters stuck to “the Seattle way of governing” (business as usual), reenforcing political passivity with an initiative process used repeatedly to restrict government’s power. Harry Siegel predicts that Seattle’s debt will grow and its economy shrink if Mayor Greg Nickels governs as he has promised.

UNIT 6. Urban Neighborhoods

27. The Gentry, Misjudged as Neighbors, John Tierney, New York Times, March 26, 2002

John Tierney reports “good news” from two recent studies, one set in Boston and one in New York. Neighborhood improvements in safety and services ushered in by gentrification mean a better neighborhood for the existing, low-income tenants as well as for the higher-income residents who have moved in recently. Another surprise: existing residents are less likely to move out of a neighborhood that is gentrifying than were similar residents in other neighborhoods.

28. The Essence of Uptown, A. T. Palmer, Chicago Tribune, December 16, 2001

Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood moved quickly from looking like a “dive” whose name realtors carefully avoided to one of the city’s latest hot neighborhoods. Long-time residents worry about their fate as housing prices continue their steep upward march. Community leaders have developed some strategies to maintain balance in the mix of social classes and races in Uptown.

29. On Avenue C, Renewal and Regret, John Leland, New York Times, August 3, 2000

New York’s Lower East Side, home to immigrants and poor people for more than 100 years, is being gentrified. The diverse mix of residents characterizes the Lower East Side, but the area’s newest residents threaten to tip the balance toward young, well-educated students, professionals, and business people. Most of the new entrepreneurs also live in the area.

30. The Geography of Cool, The Economist, April 15, 2000

What makes an urban neighborhood “cool”? This global look at new “cool” districts in London, New York, Berlin, Paris, and Tokyo concludes that a trendy neighborhood has to have plenty of cheap housing, young trend-setters (students, artists, musicians, fashion designers), diversity (immigrants and/or ethnic and/or racial diversity), and finally, some, but not too much, crime and drugs to give a sense of “edginess.”

31. Rocking-Chair Revival, Leslie Mann, Chicago Tribune, June 8, 2002

A leading new urbanist idea, the front porch, reasserts itself in a growing number of new homes, as homebuyers at varying income levels emerge from the backyards they treasured in the 70s, 80s, and 90s to socialize with their neighbors on their street.

UNIT 7. Urban Problems: Crime, Education, and Poverty

32. Broken Windows, James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, The Atlantic Monthly, March 1982

This is the seminal article on policing that created the conceptual underpinnings for New York’s dramatic decline in crime. The authors challenged the 911 theory of policing that emphasized a rapid response to crime in favor of order maintenance.

33. How an Idea Drew People Back to Urban Life, James Q. Wilson, The New York Sun, April 16, 2002

Twenty years after James Q. Wilson and George Kelling published Broken Windows, Wilson explains the origins of the idea and the connections between public order, crime, and arrests. “Broken Windows” refers to the breakdown of public order.

34. Murder Mystery, John Buntin, Governing, June 2002

This article contrasts the distinct approaches to crime and policing of Boston and New York. Both cities drove violent crime way down in the 1990s, but Boston’s began creeping back up again in the year 2000. Boston’s approach emphasizes partnerships between police and parole officers, community leaders, streetworkers, ministers, and academics, while the New York model emphasizes “broken windows” policing and COMPSTAT, a crime-mapping approach linked to precinct commander accountability.

35. Crossing the Line, Sasha Abramsky, City Limits, January 2002

Surprisingly steep drops in crime in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood propelled rapid gentrification over the last 8 years. Sasha Abramsky looks at how “broken windows” policing of quality-of-life crimes, coupled with COMPSTAT, drives crime rates down and affects public housing residents, parolees and probationers, brownstoners, and local merchants.

36. Segregation in New York Under a Different Name, J. P. Avlon, The New York Sun, June 13, 2002

Bilingual education (unlike English as a Second Language, or ESL) is a trap from which most children cannot escape. California has abolished bilingual education, and has not suffered the disastrous consequences that opponents had warned against.

37. Geography of Welfare Is Changing, Amy Goldstein, Washington Post, July 18, 2000

Studies of welfare reform reveal that cities have a hard time moving people off welfare; the hundred largest cities have an increasing percentage of the country’s welfare families. Many point to the fact that jobs grow faster in suburban areas, while other experts highlight the amount of substance abuse, mental illness, and illiteracy in urban welfare recipients.

38. Where Is Everyone Going?, Alex Kotlowitz, Chicago Tribune Magazine, March 10, 2002

The goal of the Chicago Housing Authority plan is to knock down all existing public housing, then build a mix of low-end and market-rate housing, in an effort to integrate the poor into the economic and social life of the city. Alex Kotlowitz reviews some of the ironic responses and objections to the plan.

UNIT 8. Urban Futures: Cities After September 11, 2001

39. Remember Life With Life: The New World Trade Center as Living Memorial, James Young, Properties, April 2002

This poetic meditation on the meaning of memorials in a postmodernist era contributes significantly to our efforts to comprehend, remember, and move beyond the 2001 attacks on American society and culture by building a “New World Trade Center” dedicated to all that “the terrorists abhor: our modernity, our tolerance, our diversity, our egalitarianism,” and our prosperity.

40. A View From the South, John Shelton Reed, The American Enterprise, June 2002

The attacks on the World Trade Center highlighted a different view of “the city,” as John Reed tellingly refers to New York, in this post–September 11 southern twist on Alfred Kazin’s earlier consideration of New York’s role in American culture in the first article of unit 1. After September 11, 2001, tough, working-class, outer-borough New Yorkers—cops and firemen—displaced upscale wiseguys in the American imagination.

41. Rebuilding: The Idea of the City: The Present Crisis in Perspective, Fred Siegel, Properties, April 2002

Keynoting a major post–September 11 conference in New York, Fred Siegel provides a wide-angle perspective on long-term urban dispersion and on how the history and economy of lower Manhattan, from its harbor to its financial services economy, have always been intimately linked to its environs—Brooklyn, Jersey City, New Jersey, and Fairfield, Connecticut.

42. Time to Think Small?, Joel Kotkin, The American Enterprise, June 2002

Joel Kotkin describes how the new, high-tech economy is more dispersed than the industrial wheel-and-spoke economy, allowing firms and employees to situate themselves in remote locales that fit their lifestyle choices. He warns New York to become less arrogant, to get over being “the capital of the world.”

43. Cities in the Next Century, Leonard I. Ruchelman, Society, November/December 2000

Economic restructuring has produced different kinds of cities, ranging from “headquarters cities” like New York, to “innovation centers” like Route 128 near Boston and Silicon Valley, in California, to “border cities” (Miami and San Antonio), “leisure-tourist cities,” and “retirement centers.”