Cover

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pp. c-ii

Title

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pp. iii-iii

Copyright

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pp. iv-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-xii

Ask most people who lived in Philadelphia during the second half of the twentieth century who was responsible for downtown Philadelphia and they will answer correctly: Edmund Bacon. But when you ask them what he did and how he did it, they usually cannot answer. Ask them about his work outside downtown and even fewer have anything to say. This book, for the first time, provides the answers. This is particularly important...

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xiv

I met Edmund Bacon in the summer of 2002. I was home after my junior year of college at Wesleyan University, interning at the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, and conducting research for my thesis on city planning. I wrote Bacon a letter asking permission for an interview. He obliged my request, and afterward we went to lunch, where he shocked me by asking me to take off a year of school to help him write his memoir. I...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-15

The November 6, 1964, issue of Time magazine appeared on the newsstands with a cover featuring a portrait of Edmund N. Bacon—Philadelphia’s chief city planner. Bacon was shown in a dark suit with neatly combed hair, a firm jaw, and steely blue eyes staring determinedly off into space. Behind him was a backdrop of the Society Hill Towers—designed by I. M. Pei and recently under construction—and an image of the faux-colonial ‘‘Franklin’’...

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Chapter 1. Planning for a New Deal

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pp. 16-37

Edmund Bacon would become known primarily for his work as planning director in Philadelphia in the 1950s and 1960s. However, Bacon’s first significant experience with planning, urban housing, and public policy came in the 1930s in Flint, Michigan, where he worked for the Flint Institute of Research and Planning, carrying out a traffic study that he parlayed into a larger comprehensive planning and housing reform effort. Bacon’s...

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Chapter 2. Toward a Better Philadelphia

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pp. 38-57

After leaving Flint, Ed and Ruth Bacon traveled through Europe, Russia, and Palestine, arriving back in Philadelphia in August 1939, just weeks before Hitler would invade Poland, effectively starting World War II. Bacon was unhappy in Philadelphia, viewing his hometown as a corrupt and backward place that he sought to escape as quickly as possible. He applied for jobs all over the East Coast, but finding one was difficult....

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Chapter 3. Planning for People

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pp. 58-88

After World War II, urban leaders across America saw cities in crisis, with declining neighborhoods and infrastructure, new suburbs outside the city drawing white, middle-class families away from the urban core, and the emergence of black ghettos. The federal government under President Harry Truman passed a groundbreaking federal act, providing new instruments and significant funding sources enabling cities to undertake what became...

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Chapter 4. The Architect Planner

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pp. 89-115

By the time he became executive director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission in 1949, Bacon seems to have grasped that the success of city planning depended on bringing together politicians, business people, civic groups, developers, and communities to support a vision of development. Nothing could be achieved without building a team that could carry through that design in all its complexity—and inspiring that team to come...

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Chapter 5. Reinvesting Downtown

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pp. 116-148

Penn Center was just one component of Philadelphia’s downtown, and in Bacon’s mind he saw projects not as separate entities but as pieces of the same puzzle of an overall approach to reviving Center City. Other important pieces included Society Hill and Market East. Society Hill was one of Philadelphia’s oldest neighborhoods, fallen on hard times. Bacon believed this area could be revived, its historic houses restored, and middle-class...

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Chapter 6. The Planner Versus the Automobile

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pp. 149-170

During Bacon’s tenure as city planning director, much of Philadelphia’s regional highway system was constructed, including the Schuylkill, Roosevelt Boulevard, Vine Street, and Delaware expressways. Another major planned highway, the Crosstown Expressway, was never built. Highway construction accelerated dramatically after the passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, under President Dwight Eisenhower. These highway...

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Chapter 7. Articulating a Vision in a Shifting World

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pp. 171-197

By the 1960s, the changes to Philadelphia’s urban landscape already had gained considerable attention in the media. An article in the Saturday Evening Post, for example, recounted the civic projects from Penn Center to Society Hill, stating, ‘‘Today a visitor to Philadelphia would hardly know the place.’’1 Progressive Architecture bestowed two national awards on Philadelphia projects in 1962 for Vincent Kling’s Municipal Services Building...

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Chapter 8. New Visions of Philadelphia

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pp. 198-230

By the end of the 1960s, Bacon was tired and increasingly finding that he was out of touch with shifting trends both in Philadelphia and in his profession. When he retired from the Philadelphia City Planning Commission in May 1970, cities across the U.S. were entering a period of financial hardship, with a scarcity of federal funding to support any large-scale work. At the same time, the planning profession shifted to a more consensus-based...

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Conclusion

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pp. 231-240

Edmund N. Bacon passed away on October 14, 2005, at age ninety-five. Obituaries in national publications like the New York Times, Architectural Record, and Metropolis hailed him as one of the most influential planners of the twentieth century. The New York Times called him ‘‘a leading postwar urban planner who remade much of Philadelphia.’’1 Several obituaries...

Abbreviations and Sources

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pp. 241-242

Notes

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pp. 243-290

Index

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pp. 291-304

Acknowledgments

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pp. 305-306