Breakthroughs: Re-Creating the American City

Overview

Large or small, America’s cities have had a difficult time generating admiration, respect, or understanding. They have served the nation as sources of commerce, finance, and the arts. They have taken millions of new Americans from their point of entry and helped newcomers elevate themselves economically into the American mainstream. In recent years, the greatest of cities have become command centers of a new global economy. However, the headlines from urban America proclaim ...

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Overview

Large or small, America’s cities have had a difficult time generating admiration, respect, or understanding. They have served the nation as sources of commerce, finance, and the arts. They have taken millions of new Americans from their point of entry and helped newcomers elevate themselves economically into the American mainstream. In recent years, the greatest of cities have become command centers of a new global economy. However, the headlines from urban America proclaim riot, decline, and despair.

This book is different, it is about solutions: the breakthroughs—the indicators that can serve as models for neighborhoods, communities, and cities in the twenty-first century. In vivid, colorful, and provocative prose, authors Neal R. Peirce and Robert Guskind describe six innovative experiments in urban revitalization: the winners of the Rudy Bruner Award for Excellence in the Urban Environment. The Bruner Award recognizes and rewards innovative projects that blend empowerment, diversity, and equity with effective design, social responsibility, and economic viability.

Peirce and Guskind describe the premises underlying each project, the barriers that were overcome, and the results that were achieved. They also provide the vital lessons of what made these efforts work, and lessons that stand as requirements for successful projects elsewhere: openness to innovation; decentralized decision-making; broad-based participation; empowerment of locally driven solutions. This is essential reading for students, policy-makers, planners, and all those seeking a glimpse of a future in which we can take pride in being Americans.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[This book] affirms the importance of social activism and thus can help inspire groups around the country striving to improve their own communities.” — H. Gillette Jr., Choice “Specialists in state and local governments, Peirce and Guskind. . . describe not the well known problems of US cities, but some tentative and fragile but perhaps critical leading indicators that might lead to stronger urban societies during the 21st century. They present six case studies, winners of the Rudy Bruner Award, that offer policymakers hope for recovering from what they describe as the excesses and failures of Great Society social tinkering and the callous neglect of the Reagan era.” —Book News "[A]ttractive . . . large, containing black-and-white photographs and big print, Breakthroughs looks as if it belongs on a coffee table. The authors . . . write vividly about the people and places they cover. . . . Good writing and colorful imagery make for a brisk and enjoyable read." —Journal of the American Planning Association "Well written, thought-provoking, and optimistic... Peirce and Guskind celebrate the city and its unique character." —Journal of Planning Education and Research “Whether the physical transformation of metropolitan areas, the rise of an underclass, and declining federal dollars to cities are news to the reader or not, the story is effectively told. Rethinking the role of government becomes a necessary opportunity. Community-based partnerships, the equivalent of bottom-up management in the business world, drives their proposed theory of urban revival… The quality of the writing and its careful detail makes this book accessible to students, citizens, and specialists who are interested in the quality o four urban environments.” —Judith Kenny, Social Science Quarterly “Physically, the book is quite attractive. Large, containing black and white photographs and big print, Breakthroughs looks as if it belongs on a coffee-table… Good writing and colorful imagery make for a brisk and enjoyable read.” —Adam Rabiner, Journal of American Planning Association
Booknews
Enthusiastic rather than critical accounts of six urban renewal projects that have won the Rudy Bruner Award for Excellence in the Urban Environment. Discusses the underlying problems and approaches, the barriers and how they were overcome, and the results and the impact they have made on the city and its residents. If the 30-page section on our own Portland is typical, the book belongs in science-fiction and fantasy. No bibliography. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412848435
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/31/2012
  • Pages: 206
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Neal R. Peirce is a lead writer on the dynamics of state and local government, with a special focus on metropolitan regions. He started, and continues today, the United States’ first national column focused on state and local government themes, syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group.

Robert Guskind (1958-2009) was a contributing editor of National Journaland an award-winning journalist whose specialties included state and local government and politics and the nation’s inner cities.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction 1
1 Home Ownership in New York City's Ravaged Neighborhoods 21
2 Portland's 1972 Downtown Plan: Rebirth of the Public City 51
3 Boston's Southwest Corridor: People Power Makes History 83
4 Lincoln's Radial Reuse: A Quiet Plains Revolution 115
5 Farm Workers' Own Housing: Self-Help in Cabrillo Village 141
6 The Stowe Recreation Path: Common Ground 167
Index 187
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