Securing the Spectacular City: The Politics of Revitalization and Homelessness in Downtown Seattle

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Overview

Timothy A. Gibson tells a compelling story about a decade-long effort to build a world-class downtown in the heart of Seattle. Escorting readers in to the backrooms of Seattle's political establishment, Gibson investigates why city leaders are so willing to commit public money to downtown redevelopment projects. Examining whether its downtown has really become, as promised, "everyone's neighborhood," thereby benefiting all socio-economic classes, Securing the Spectacular City uses the Seattle story in order to explore, and ultimately to understand, the larger social and ethical consequences of spectacular downtown revitalization plans.

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Editorial Reviews

Pacific Northwest Quarterly
Timothy Gibson tells a fascinating story in Securing the Spectacular City. It is a story about Seattle's emergence as a world-class city and the decisions, manipulation, and backroom deals that led to its rise as a major player on the global stage. Although based on Seattle, the work has clear applications and lessons for most large cities in North America. It is, in essence, a case study of the conflicts and collisions that are all too commonplace between two groups in the urban United States. On one side are the civic boosters and the urban elite (for example, developers, real estate interests, and a seeming majority of any given community's politicians). On the other side are advocates for the disadvantaged and the disadvantaged themselves (for example, leaders of nonprofit agencies, socially oriented organizations and groups, low-income populations and the homeless).

What one learns about the development process is quite revealing, making the book worthwhile reading for policymakers, academics interested in urban studies, and those from the development and real estate sector, whose decisions significantly affect the urban scene.
— Brian Coffey, University of Washington, Tacoma

Dennis R. Judd
Securing the Spectacular City reveals that Seattle's construction as a media darling and high-tech metropolis is the product of a narrative that hides homelessness and poverty behind the facade of upscale consumption and downtown glitz. Gibson deftly situates Seattle's meteoric rise in the context of the sweeping events of globalization to make this a compelling story and an important addition to the urban literature.
Vincent Mosco
In the tradition of Mike Davis on Los Angeles and Sharon Zukin on New York, Gibson examines the power politics that created today's Seattle. This careful and well-written account of Seattle's transformation from an industrial to a spectacular city examines the tradeoff between the gain produced by redevelopment through upscale leisure, tourism and consumption and the loss of public space for free speech, non-commercial pleasures, genuine social diversity, and sheer solitude.
Richard Gruneau
Tim Adcock Gibson has written a fascinating, timely, and provocative analysis of urban development in Seattle in the 1990s. Sweeping in its scope, the book seemlessly integrates a wealth of primary research material with theoretical arguments from social theory, cultural geography, and contemporary cultural studies.
Pacific Northwest Quarterly - Brian Coffey
Timothy Gibson tells a fascinating story in Securing the Spectacular City. It is a story about Seattle's emergence as a world-class city and the decisions, manipulation, and backroom deals that led to its rise as a major player on the global stage. Although based on Seattle, the work has clear applications and lessons for most large cities in North America. It is, in essence, a case study of the conflicts and collisions that are all too commonplace between two groups in the urban United States. On one side are the civic boosters and the urban elite (for example, developers, real estate interests, and a seeming majority of any given community's politicians). On the other side are advocates for the disadvantaged and the disadvantaged themselves (for example, leaders of nonprofit agencies, socially oriented organizations and groups, low-income populations and the homeless).

What one learns about the development process is quite revealing, making the book worthwhile reading for policymakers, academics interested in urban studies, and those from the development and real estate sector, whose decisions significantly affect the urban scene.

Jennifer Wolch
Gibson offers us an insightful theoretical analysis of the contemporary American city under conditions of globalization and welfare state devolution. These conditions push civic elites and business leaders into a merciless competition with other cities for jobs, business investment, tourists, and tax revenues at the expense of social justice and access to public space. His rich empirical story of Seattle explains how these dynamics play out to produce a metropolis where poverty and homelessness lie just beneath its spectacular veneer.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739105696
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 2/28/2004
  • Pages: 322
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Timothy A. Gibson is an Assistant Professor of Communication at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He has authored a number of articles on media, discourse, and urban politics, including articles published in Rethinking Marxism, Space and Culture, and the Journal of Communication Inquiry. Raised in Ohio, he spent a decade living in the Pacific Northwest prior to moving to the East Coast. He currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife and two children.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 When Things Fall Apart Part 1 Economic Crisis and the Mobilization of Spectacle Chapter 2 Crisis and Opportunity in the Post-Fordist City Part 2 Building the Spectacular City Chapter 3 Seattle Elites and the Downtown Crisis Part 3 Securing the Spectacular City Chapter 4 Negotiating Urban Spectacle Chapter 5 Public Resources, Private Power Chapter 6 Securing Urban Spectacle Chapter 7 The Urban Reststop vs. The World-Class City Chapter 8 Defining Revitalization in the Spectacular City Chapter 9 Building A City that Truly Lives

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