City Making: Building Communities without Building Walls

City Making: Building Communities without Building Walls

by Gerald E. Frug
     
 

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American metropolitan areas today are divided into neighborhoods of privilege and poverty, often along lines of ethnicity and race. City residents traveling through these neighborhoods move from feeling at home to feeling like tourists to feeling so out of place they fear for their security. As Gerald Frug shows, this divided and inhospitable urban landscape is not

Overview

American metropolitan areas today are divided into neighborhoods of privilege and poverty, often along lines of ethnicity and race. City residents traveling through these neighborhoods move from feeling at home to feeling like tourists to feeling so out of place they fear for their security. As Gerald Frug shows, this divided and inhospitable urban landscape is not simply the result of individual choices about where to live or start a business. It is the product of government policies—and, in particular, the policies embedded in legal rules. A Harvard law professor and leading expert on urban affairs, Frug presents the first-ever analysis of how legal rules shape modern cities and outlines a set of alternatives to bring down the walls that now keep city dwellers apart.

Frug begins by describing how American law treats cities as subdivisions of states and shows how this arrangement has encouraged the separation of metropolitan residents into different, sometimes hostile groups. He explains in clear, accessible language the divisive impact of rules about zoning, redevelopment, land use, and the organization of such city services as education and policing. He pays special attention to the underlying role of anxiety about strangers, the widespread desire for good schools, and the pervasive fear of crime. Ultimately, Frug calls for replacing the current legal definition of cities with an alternative based on what he calls "community building"—an alternative that gives cities within the same metropolitan region incentives to forge closer links with each other.

An incisive study of the legal roots of today's urban problems, City Making is also an optimistic and compelling blueprint for enabling American cities once again to embrace their historic role of helping people reach an accommodation with those who live in the same geographic area, no matter how dissimilar they are.

Editorial Reviews

Urban Affairs Review
A pleasure to read. It is well written, lively and insightful. Frug treads where urban scholars rarely go—into the law and political theory of cities—and for this he should be congratulated.
— Judith A. Garber
Choice
Frug, a top Harvard legal scholar and urban affairs expert, makes a pathbreaking effort to document how government policies have shaped the fragmentation of the American metropolis. . . . [A] tight, well-written analysis. . . .
Urban Lawyer
A powerful, important book. It is important not least because it showcases one of the last grand identities that seems to have evaded critical problematization—the identity of the romantic protagonist who by sheer force of imagination wills herself into a better world. Yet it is important also for the courage and vigor with which it takes on the tone and tropes of programmatic thought.
— Fleur Johns
Harvard Design Magazine
City Making is particularly welcome both as a challenge to a branch of the law that desperately needs rethinking and as a starting point for a new dialogue between law and urban and regional design.
— Robert Fishman
Journal of the American Planning Association
The book is an important reference for those who want to explore alternative frameworks for city making. In addition, it alerts citizens to problems of their urban landscape, and how costly it is to run away from them.
— Carla Braziliero Waehneldt
Urban Studies
Gerard Frug provides an important and eloquent critique of the way in which the US legal system disempowers deprived urban communities. He assesses a wide range of literature on urban communities to present a picture of socially and radically divided cities adversely affected by legal constraints, the complexities of local government and entrenched local vested political interests.
— Brian Jacobs
Urban Affairs Review - Judith A. Garber
A pleasure to read. It is well written, lively and insightful. Frug treads where urban scholars rarely go—into the law and political theory of cities—and for this he should be congratulated.
Urban Lawyer - Fleur Johns
A powerful, important book. It is important not least because it showcases one of the last grand identities that seems to have evaded critical problematization—the identity of the romantic protagonist who by sheer force of imagination wills herself into a better world. Yet it is important also for the courage and vigor with which it takes on the tone and tropes of programmatic thought.
Harvard Design Magazine - Robert Fishman
City Making is particularly welcome both as a challenge to a branch of the law that desperately needs rethinking and as a starting point for a new dialogue between law and urban and regional design.
Journal of the American Planning Association - Carla Braziliero Waehneldt
The book is an important reference for those who want to explore alternative frameworks for city making. In addition, it alerts citizens to problems of their urban landscape, and how costly it is to run away from them.
Urban Studies - Brian Jacobs
Gerard Frug provides an important and eloquent critique of the way in which the US legal system disempowers deprived urban communities. He assesses a wide range of literature on urban communities to present a picture of socially and radically divided cities adversely affected by legal constraints, the complexities of local government and entrenched local vested political interests.
From the Publisher
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2000

Winner of the Paul Davidoff Award

"A pleasure to read. It is well written, lively and insightful. Frug treads where urban scholars rarely go—into the law and political theory of cities—and for this he should be congratulated."—Judith A. Garber, Urban Affairs Review

"Frug shows how American laws and legal traditions have hurt many cities, keeping them hobbled by state government and favoring suburbs at cities' expense. . . . Frug argues saliently that a city's character is shaped as much by its residents' perceptions of their civic responsibility as by its built environment."Publishers Weekly

"Frug, a top Harvard legal scholar and urban affairs expert, makes a pathbreaking effort to document how government policies have shaped the fragmentation of the American metropolis. . . . [A] tight, well-written analysis."Choice

"A powerful, important book. It is important not least because it showcases one of the last grand identities that seems to have evaded critical problematization—the identity of the romantic protagonist who by sheer force of imagination wills herself into a better world. Yet it is important also for the courage and vigor with which it takes on the tone and tropes of programmatic thought."—Fleur Johns, Urban Lawyer

"City Making is particularly welcome both as a challenge to a branch of the law that desperately needs rethinking and as a starting point for a new dialogue between law and urban and regional design."—Robert Fishman, Harvard Design Magazine

"The book is an important reference for those who want to explore alternative frameworks for city making. In addition, it alerts citizens to problems of their urban landscape, and how costly it is to run away from them."—Carla Braziliero Waehneldt, Journal of the American Planning Association

"Gerard Frug provides an important and eloquent critique of the way in which the US legal system disempowers deprived urban communities. He assesses a wide range of literature on urban communities to present a picture of socially and radically divided cities adversely affected by legal constraints, the complexities of local government and entrenched local vested political interests."—Brian Jacobs, Urban Studies

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Has it become all too easy to fight City Hall? Why can't cities and suburbs get along? And how can we fix the laws that set them at odds? Where other urban reformers concentrate on bricks and mortar, or jobs and welfare, Harvard Law School professor Frug (Local Government Law) shows how American laws and legal traditions have hurt many cities, keeping them hobbled by state government and favoring suburbs at cities' expense. Zoning laws can undermine diversity and aggravate segregation, separating the poor from the rich and placing valuable services beyond reach of the poor. Writing as a legal academic, Frug takes welcome account not only of the relevant court decisions but also of urban history, sociology and political and literary theorists, from Hannah Arendt to Judith Butler. His commanding abstractions produce plausible policy recommendations, too. Recognizing how hard it would be to change how states and businesses operate, Frug recommends that American cities "transform city services into vehicles for community building," using schools, police forces and other government functions to help citizens recognize mutual interests. Residents ought to learn to think of themselves as political and ethical actors, rather than as mere consumers; policy makers can help them do so. Frug argues saliently that a city's character is shaped as much by its residents' perceptions of their civic responsibilities as by its built environment. If his prose is less than action-packed, his points come through clearly: they're all worth making, and readers who find his first chapters too theoretical will be happier later, when he gets down to cases. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691007427
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
02/20/2001
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
440,851
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)

What People are saying about this

Richard Sennett
This is an innovative book by one of America's leading legal scholars. Frug creates a set of legal and policy frameworks for cities to practice themselves,rather than have imposed from outside. He has found a way to talk about decentralization that makes sense for our time. . . . I admire the clarity and precision with which the author writes.
Iris M. Young
Gerald Frug persuasively shows how the current legal powers and divided jurisdictions of municipalities in America reproduce privileges and threaten the solidarity that strong democracy requires. Frug does not stop with critique,however,but also boldly offers an alternative vision of regionally cooperating cities that support the well-being of all their inhabitants. The argument of City Making is both rigorous and inspiring.
Young
Gerald Frug persuasively shows how the current legal powers and divided jurisdictions of municipalities in America reproduce privileges and threaten the solidarity that strong democracy requires. Frug does not stop with critique, however, but also boldly offers an alternative vision of regionally cooperating cities that support the well-being of all their inhabitants. The argument of City Making is both rigorous and inspiring.
Iris M. Young, author of "Justice and the Politics of Difference" and "Intersecting Voices: Dilemmas of Gender, Political Philosophy, and Policy"
Ford
Frug writes with authority and complete mastery of his subject matter, as well as with moving moral conviction. His proposals are bold and unexpected yet well bolstered by the force of his arguments and the scope of his historical and theoretical discussion. This is an excellent and important book. Very few works published in recent years deserve to be placed in the company of Lewis Mumford's classic The City in History. Frug's book is one of those few.
Richard T. Ford, Stanford University
David Schultz
City Making is ambitious…The book provides a fascinating analysis of the evolution of cities vis-à-vis private corporations and a thoughtful argument about what cities should be and how they foster an enriched life.
—(David Schultz, Hamline University)
Richard T. Ford
Frug writes with authority and complete mastery of his subject matter,as well as with moving moral conviction. His proposals are bold and unexpected yet well bolstered by the force of his arguments and the scope of his historical and theoretical discussion. This is an excellent and important book. Very few works published in recent years deserve to be placed in the company of Lewis Mumford's classic The City in History. Frug's book is one of those few.

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