By Steven Conn
T is a paradox of yank existence that we're a hugely urbanized kingdom jam-packed with humans deeply ambivalent approximately city existence. An aversion to city density and all that it contributes to city lifestyles, and a conception that the 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 the town, and rejected the function of presidency in American lifestyles in prefer of a go back to the pioneer virtues of independence and self-sufficiency. during this provocative and sweeping e-book, Conn explores the anti-urban impulse around the twentieth century, analyzing how the guidelines born of it have formed either the areas during which american citizens reside and paintings, and the anti-government politics so powerful at the present time. starting within the booming commercial towns of the revolutionary period on the flip of the 20 th century, the place debate surrounding those questions first arose, Conn examines the development of anti-urban hobbies. : He describes the decentralist circulate of the Thirties, the try and revive the yankee small city within the mid-century, the anti-urban foundation of city renewal within the Nineteen Fifties and '60s, and the Nixon administration's application of establishing new cities as a reaction to the city obstacle, illustrating how, through the center of the twentieth century, anti-urbanism used to be on the middle of the politics of the recent correct. Concluding with an exploration of the hot Urbanist experiments on the flip of the twenty first century, Conn demonstrates the total breadth of the anti-urban impulse, from its inception to the current day. Engagingly written, completely researched, and forcefully argued, americans opposed to the town is critical analyzing for someone who cares not only concerning the heritage of our towns, yet approximately their destiny besides.
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Extra info for Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth Century
Attentive readers noticed how the systematic nature of the information presented the neighborhood in an almost scientific way. ”21 Hull House Maps and Papers was thorough, factual, and avoided cheap sentiment. What grabbed the attention of many readers, however, were the maps—two of them, multi-colored, folding out from the book. One displayed the astonishing ethnic variety to be found in this tiny patch of the city: Irish, Russian, Italian, Bohemian, even a few French Canadians. The other mapped the wages that residents of these twelve square blocks earned.
First, and most obviously, both responded to the central fact of American life at the turn of the twentieth century: the United States had entered its urban moment, and the problems of the city—however they might be defined and however they might be solved—were the problems of the nation. Second, and more specifically, each group saw “congestion” as a major cause of what ailed the city. Third, both saw that “congestion” as the result of the failure of the private real estate market to create a decent city.
Progressives looked at the city and saw its constituent parts; they attempted to take the great, chaotic whole and dissect it into smaller, more rational pieces. Run down the litany of their reform efforts, and after you pause to be profoundly impressed, you recognize the way in which the Progressives identified and categorized urban problems in order to formulate urban solutions. Concern over the living conditions of city dwellers led to housing reform and zoning codes; the self-evident problems of sanitation led to improvements in sewers and municipal water supplies; the danger so many industrial workers faced on the job generated tentative efforts to improve workplace safety and establish a system of workers’ compensation; the bewildering variety of immigrants crowding with astonishing speed into Chicago and New York and Cleveland created demand for English classes and citizenship training.