Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth by Steven Conn

By Steven Conn

T is a paradox of yank existence that we're a hugely urbanized state full of humans deeply ambivalent approximately city existence. An aversion to city density and all that it contributes to city lifestyles, and a notion that town was once where the place "big government" first took root in the US fostered what historian Steven Conn phrases the "anti-urban impulse." In reaction, anti-urbanists referred to as for the decentralization of town, and rejected the function of presidency in American lifestyles in want of a go back to the pioneer virtues of independence and self-sufficiency. during this provocative and sweeping ebook, Conn explores the anti-urban impulse around the twentieth century, studying how the guidelines born of it have formed either the areas during which americans stay and paintings, and the anti-government politics so powerful at the present time. starting within the booming commercial towns of the innovative period on the flip of the twentieth century, the place debate surrounding those questions first arose, Conn examines the development of anti-urban hobbies. : He describes the decentralist circulation of the Thirties, the try to revive the yankee small city within the mid-century, the anti-urban foundation of city renewal within the Fifties and '60s, and the Nixon administration's software of creating new cities as a reaction to the city main issue, illustrating how, via the center of the twentieth century, anti-urbanism was once on the heart of the politics of the hot correct. Concluding with an exploration of the recent Urbanist experiments on the flip of the twenty first century, Conn demonstrates the entire breadth of the anti-urban impulse, from its inception to the current day. Engagingly written, completely researched, and forcefully argued, americans opposed to town is critical interpreting for an individual who cares not only in regards to the background of our towns, yet approximately their destiny in addition.

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23 The results look almost like an abstract expressionist painting, an early Chicago precursor to Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie. An irregular pattern of colored blocks arranged on the very regular grid of city streets. The blocks themselves represent individual buildings or addresses; the colors correspond to nationalities on one map, to wages on the other. Study the maps carefully and you see that there is a remarkable, painstaking degree of detail. Taking the two together, it becomes hard to discern larger trends, patterns, or correlations in these maps.

The Gilded Age, the rise of corporate capitalism, the “incorporation” of America, the age of the Robber Barons—however one wants to label the American economy in the post-Civil War era, that transformation took place largely in American cities (or was driven by urban capital). The census data of 1890 was unequivocal: the frontier had closed, and the value of manufactured goods now exceeded the value of farm products by a considerable amount. These shifts, from country to city, from farm to factory, lay beneath much of the politics of the 1880s and 1890s, especially the political movement known as populism.

Org, a project of the Philadelphia Department of Records for many of those reformers, most of the specific problems—whether health or housing, sanitation or transportation—stemmed from the same root: density. Too many city people made their lives in too little space, and thus the challenge for those who embraced the city was to make city life humane and fulfilling at densities the world had never experienced before. 2 8 • A m e r i c a n s A g ai n s t t h e Ci t y In the past, some historians have interpreted the Progressive concern with crowding as an aversion to the urban life that newly arrived immigrants made for themselves when they settled in American cities.

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