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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 aggressive nature, the city maintains a potent allure and magic.
2. 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 polices 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.
3. Interview with Jane Jacobs, Bill Steigerwald, Reason, June 2001
Urbanist Jane Jacobs considers what cities need to enable them to function as engines of creativity. She predicts a new dark age could emerge if they do not.
4. Broken Windows, James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, The Atlantic Monthly, March 1982
This is the seminal article on policing that introduced the ideas that were employed to produce the dramatic nationwide drop in urban crime in the 1990s. The authors challenged the 911 theory of policing that emphasized rapid response to crimes once they’d been committed and proposed instead prioritizing order maintenance.Unit 2 The Inner Life: City Stories
5. Back to the Fortress of Brooklyn and the Millions of Destroyed Men Who Are My Brothers, Jacob Siegel, New Partisan, April 18, 2005
Siegel argues that Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude is the most important book about race and cities since Ellison’s Invisible Man, and that its failure to be acknowledged as such exposes the blinders many still wear on issues of race and identity.
6. My L.A., John Fante, Ask the Dust, Harper Perennial, 2006
Los Angeles is presented as an ethnically mixed, working class city, a seeding ground for big dreams and mixed up confusion.
7. Chicago, City of Champions, Saul Bellow, Ravelstein, Viking, 2000
Chicago as the great American city, the melting pot where thugs and professors admire each other’s taste in clothing, where metropolitan and Midwest mingle.
8. A Play at Contrition, Adam Chimera, New York Press, February 14, 2005
A sadsack robbery sheds light on urban relations and intersections.Unit 3 Selling the New City: The Fight to Attract the Young and the Restless
9. The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class, 2002
The highly educated and creative “knowledge workers” seek out cities such as Seattle, Boston and Austin that support their lifestyle interests: outdoor recreational amenities, historic buildings, vibrant musical and cultural scenes, and tolerance of diversity toward immigrants, gay people, and minorities.
10. Too Much Froth, Joel Kotkin and Fred Siegel, Blueprint, January 8, 2004
Kotkin and Siegel criticize Richard Florida’s much-heralded idea of the Creative Class, in which cities survive according to their “Latte quotient,” or ability to attract hip, often single, mobile and highly educated young creative types. They argue that the key to successful cities remains provision of basic services like police, fire fighters and garbage men, quality schools and housing, and a business-friendly environment.
11. Packaging Cities, Rebecca Gardyn, American Demographics, January, 2002
As cities large and small focus increasingly on how they’re perceived; image, or branding, is important in attracting businesses as well as the younger workers, tourists, and conventioneers on which cities depend. Though Louisville’s efforts have been particularly creative and effective, they’re still losing the just-out-of-college crowd to hipper “techie” cities like Austin, Texas.
12. Urban Warfare,Blaine Harden,Washington Post , December 1-7, 2003
Talented young post-graduates are increasingly part of “an elite intercity migration” in which cities compete with one another to attract these desirable residents, but the cities that attract these groups tend to lose many of their less educated citizens.
13. 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.”
14. The Best of Mates, Andy Beckett, The Guardian, March 27, 2004
Some say urban tribes, fluid social networks of young, single and highly educated individuals with little in the way of religious, ethnic or family identification, are the single fastest growing group in America. They are divorced from politics and class-identification, and perhaps these self-involved young people are what cities need to thrive.Unit 4 Urban Revival, Gentrification and the Changing Face of the CityPart A. Urban Revival
15. Return to Center, Christopher D. Ringwald, Governing, April 2002
Some states are moving their offices back from the suburbs to long-suffering downtowns as part of a deliberate effort to generate an urban revival .
16. The Fall and Rise of Bryant Park, Julia Vitullo-Martin, The New York Sun, January 21, 2004
Public project housing began as a utopian project to eliminate poverty but rapidly devolved from a fresh start to a dead end. Harry Siegel asks by what standard should we judge the success or failure of public housing policies.
17. 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 interests in reviving the city by building a convention center downtown. Staley reminds us the city would be better served by providing infrastructure and drawing residents back to downtown.
18. Saving Buffalo from Extinction, David Blake, City Limits, February 2002
Buffalo lost about 10 percent of its population in the 1990s, but continues to attract temporary refugees traveling from Canada (with its more open asylum laws). Some local leaders are pinning their hopes on these refugees to trigger and lead a demographic and economic revival.
19. Movers and 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 neighborhoods in every city to which they have migrated.Part B. Gentrification
20. The Gentry, Misjudged As Neighbors, John Tierney, The New York Times, March 26, 2002
John Tierney reports “good news” from two recent academic 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 recently moved in. Another surprise: existing residents are less likely to move out of a neighborhood that is gentrifying than were similar residents in other neighborhoods.
21. Red Hook—Wounded by Good Intentions, Zach Intrater, New York Press, January 18, 2006
How one waterfront Brooklyn neighborhood has been damaged by gentrification.
22. 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.
23. In Parts of U.S. Northwest, a Changing Face, Blaine Harden, The Washington Post, June 19, 2006
Blaine Harden reviews why two of America’s whitest cities have become even whiter.
24. Rocking-Chair Revival, Leslie Mann, Chicago Tribune, June 8, 2002
Everything old is new again, and so the front porch has become a leading new urbanist idea, reasserting itself in a growing number of homes, as buyers emerge from the backyards of the last 30 years to socialize with neighbors on the street.
25. In New York City, Fewer Find They Can Make It, Michael Powell, The Washington Post, March 14, 2004
While Wall Street is booming and Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg brags that “our future has never looked brighter,” New York’s unemployment rate is the highest of the America’s 20 largest cities, and 50 percent of blacks are unemployed. New York’s dependence on Wall Street generating boom-based bonuses means that “a relative handful of very wealthy people are driving” the city’s economy, while the working and middle classes depart for greener economic pastures.Unit 5 Urban Economies, Politics and Policies
26. Winds of Change—Tale of a Warehouse Shows How Chicago Weathers a Decline, Ilan Brat, The Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2006
Ilan Brat discusses how and why Chicago keeps successfully reinventing itself, and how it’s come to have the greatest industrial diversity of any large city.
27. Bloomberg So Far, Fred Siegel and Harry Siegel, Commentary, March 2004
A look at how New York has fared under Mayor Bloomberg, who has maintained Mayor Giuliani’s success in fighting crime and maintaining quality of life, but has failed to articulate or enact an agenda of his own, thus allowing the city to slip back into its forty-year cycle of fiscal decline.
28. 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.Unit 6 Sprawl: Challenges to the Metropolitan Landscape
29. Patio Man and the Sprawl People, David Brooks, The Weekly Standard, August 12-19, 2002
David Brooks examines urban flight and the population boom in outer ring suburbs. The middle class, he argues, no longer able or willing to afford the high cost and strain of city life, is fleeing the cities and inner suburbs, leaving only the rich and the poor behind.
30. Downtown Struggles While Neighbor Thrives, Michael Brick, The New York Times, March 19, 2003
By relocating out of downtown to other parts of the city and its suburbs, Houston’s white-collar businesses, no longer dependant on close physical proximity, are saving money and driving up the costs of surrounding areas. The millions of square feet of downtown office space vacated when Enron collapsed have mostly remained empty as businesses move both back- and front-office operations to less expensive parts of the city and into neighboring areas.
31. 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.
32. Unscrambling the City, Christopher Swope, Governing, June 2003
Outdated and scarcely understood zoning laws force cities to develop in ways that no longer suit their needs. In Chicago, where zoning laws have remained mostly unchanged since the late 1950’s, they’ve made it more difficult for the city to absorb a wave of young, upwardly-mobile gentrifiers.
33. 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.Unit 7 Urban Problems: Crime, Education, and Poverty
34. 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.
35. Windows Not Broken, Harry Siegel, New Partisan, March 5, 2004
Harry Siegel looks at the tensions that ensue as New York rapidly gentrifies and a new class of drug users emerges with whom police are less concerned since their behavior doesn’t correspond with the Broken Windows theory of policing.
36. 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.
37. Police Line—Do Cross, Bob Roberts, City Limits, March 2004
By combining the accountability of CompStat with a renewed emphasis on community relations, the NYPD and neighborhood residents are working together to keep the Northwest Bronx a poor but functional neighborhood.
38. The Black Family—40 Years of Lies, Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal, Summer 2005
How race and class became intermingled in America, and what we can do about it.
39. Big Cities Balk Over Illegal Migrants, Judy Keen, USA Today, June 19, 2006
Local police are resisting federal attempts to have them enforce immigration laws, arguing that they won’t be able to police effectively in immigrant communities if they are seen as a hostile force.
40. Segregation in New York under a Different Name, J. P. Avlon, The New York Sun, June 13, 2002
This article reviews the deleterious effects of bilingual education on New York’s schoolchildren, and why the city continues using a discredited pedagogical approach.
41. An Inner-City Renaissance, Aaron Bernstein, Business Week, October 27, 2003
The nation’s inner city’s had higher population growth and a higher percentage of income growth in the 1990s that did the nation as a whole. But as cities do well, are poorer residents pushed out?
42. The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Public Housing, Harry Siegel, The New York Sun, February 25, 2003
Public housing projects began as a utopian project to eliminate poverty but rapidly devolved from a fresh start to a dead end. The question now is, by what standard do we evaluate the success or failure of public housing policies?Unit 8 Cities and Disasters: Viewing 9/11 and Katrina, and Preparing for What’s Next
43. 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.
44. Debunking the Myths of Katrina, Camas Davis, Nicole Davis, Christian DeBenedetti et al., March 2006
A look at the preparation for and response to Katrina, what went wrong—and right–with the city, state and federal government’s preparations, and how we can do better when disaster next strikes.
45. The Gathering Storm, Elaine Kamarck, Democracy, Fall 2006
It’s time to prepare for a future of frequent disasters, and to ensure a far better response.