The Crisis of America's Cities / Edition 1

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Overview

An original work on American cities and the ongoing "urban crisis". Using the metaphor of the socially constructed organization of space, Bartlett takes a broad view of the evolution of urban America, from its historical roots to the present; he then examines the way in which current policies have responded to, and affected the organization of space (covering housing, transportation, government and other urban problems). He concludes with a look to the future of American cities, how they will impact and be impacted on by changing commercial and labor markets, by the problems of poverty and cultural change. In an epilogue, he explores possible ways to overcome the "social dilemmas", while recognizing the difficulty of this undertaking.

A thoroughly unique perspective to the study of cities, this book is about how space is used in America and how it changes as the "logic of location" evolves historically. Starting with the assumption that cities are fundamentally unnatural" phenomena, it unravels the interactions of technological advances that have made them possible and policies that have given them shape.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"How has a nation that began with few cities, small in scale but noted for their wealth and power... become one characterized by so many large cities, filled with so much poverty and despair," asks Bartlett, who directs the urban studies program at Smith College, in this thoughtful exercise in American urban history. Presenting a colorful overview of the spatial organization of major U.S. metropolitan areas spanning the past 200 years, Bartlett predicts that cities will continue to lose jobs, population and economic activity to suburbs and to "edge cities" on their periphery, creating multinodal metropolitan webs that will be increasingly dependent on automobiles. Rejecting fashionable solutions to today's urban crisis, he argues that "urban enterprise zones" are based on an illusory belief that we can bring back to "central cities" large numbers of low-skill, high-wage jobs. Central cities, Bartlett argues, will never again be the economic hubs they once were. He also maintains that retrofitted rail systems (San Francisco's BART; Washington, D.C.'s Metro)--heavily subsidized and expensive to operate--are not a sound solution to urban sprawl. Bartlett's blueprint for reversing urban decline is sketchy. He calls for equalizing school expenditures across the entire metropolitan web, providing educational opportunities so that inner-city youth will acquire marketable skills and dispersing the poor into the larger community via affordable low-income housing. His lucid prose, and his ability to lay out, in basic terms, the intricate problems facing U.S. cities, make this not only a useful overview, but one whose prognosis for the fate of urban America is largely convincing. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Bartlett (economics and urban studies, Smith Coll.; Economics and Power: An Inquiry into Markets and Human Relations, Cambridge Univ., 1989) argues that a number of mostly economic factors encourage people to congregate, resulting in the current problems of urban poverty, unemployment, and alienation. Bartlett uses examples ranging from Civil War battles to the experiences of low-income families to illustrate the "logic of location," or why technology and economic interests have led to the current urban crisis. He goes on to recommend a more holistic approach to urban policy in order to address inequities in education finance, the disconnection between education and employment, a youth culture that does not encourage academic achievement, and the concentration of the poor in inner cities. He recommends federal investment in programs to disperse the poor and build mixed-income neighborhoods in cities and suburbs. An engaging analysis of the urban crisis from a perspective that readers will appreciate, even if they disagree.--William L. Waugh, Georgia State Univ., Atlanta
Booknews
Using a metaphor of exploring space as it is socially organized in cities, the author begins by examining the evolution of urban America from the colonial era to the present, emphasizing how both technological change and public policies have affected the shape of cities. He concludes by exploring future prospects for cities as the national economy and its labor markets continue to evolve. He stresses that solutions must come from adapting cities to the future. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765603029
  • Publisher: Sharpe, M. E. Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/16/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Age range: 18 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Prologue
I Exploring Cities 1
1 Cities in America 3
2 Unnatural Aggregations and Natural Perceptions 17
II The Path from the Past 39
3 Wind, Wagon, and Water: Cities Before 1830 41
4 Water, Water, Everywhere: Cities 1830-1870 58
5 Electricity and Steel: 1870 Through the First World War 78
6 From the Great War to the Great Society 99
III The Role of Policy 123
7 Urban Housing: Markets, Rules, and Regulations 125
8 Housing Policies and Prices 140
9 Getting Around: Urban Transportation Policy 159
10 Governing Sprawl 177
11 Mapping Explored Space 193
IV Prospects for the Future 207
12 Looking Ahead 209
13 Two Tales of a City: The Current Destination 229
14 Two Tales of a City: The Way to a Different End 243
15 Epilogue 261
Notes 271
Bibliography 279
Index 285
About the Author 290
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