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The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation

Beijing, Chicago, and Paris

Yue Zhang

Publication Year: 2013

While urban preservation is almost as old as cities themselves, it has become increasingly controversial in modern cities. In this book, Yue Zhang presents a cross-national comparative analysis of the politics of urban preservation. Based on comprehensive archival research and more than two hundred in-depth interviews in Beijing, Chicago, and Paris, Zhang finds that urban preservation provides a tool for diverse political and social actors to frame their propositions and advance their favored courses of action.

In cities from West to East, divergent political and economic interests have caused urban preservation to become contested. Exploring three of the world’s great cities, Zhang deftly navigates readers through each case study, illustrating the complexities of the politics of urban preservation in each city. In Beijing, urban preservation was integral to promoting economic growth and enhancing the city’s image during the lead-up to the 2008 Olympics; in Chicago, it is used to increase property values and revitalize neighborhoods; and in Paris, it offers a channel for national and municipal governments to compete for control over urban space.

Although urban preservation serves various purposes in these cities, Zhang explains how different types of political fragmentation have affected the implementation of preservation initiatives in predictable ways, thus generating distinct patterns of urban preservation. A comparative urban politics study of unusual breadth, The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation gives us insight into the complex policy process of urban preservation through which political institutions are intertwined with interests and inclinations, fundamentally shaping the direction of urban development, the physical forms of cities, and the lives of citizens.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Series: Globalization and Community


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-xii

My initial interest in the topic of urban preservation was kindled by the drastic urban transformation of my hometown, Beijing. Since the late 1990s, Beijing has gone through rapid urban renewal, and a large proportion of the historic city has vanished under the wrecking ball. I was sad...

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Introduction: The Paradox of Urban Preservation

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pp. xiii-xxviii

In the summer of 2005, two large preservation projects were taking place in Beijing. The first one was the restoration of Yongdingmen, the central gate of the Outer City located at the southern end of the Central Axis. Originally built in 1553, Yongdingmen was demolished in the 1950s, along...

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1. The Logic of Political Fragmentation

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pp. 1-21

In this chapter, I develop a general theory of how political fragmentation influences the policy process. I identify three major types of political fragmentation, namely, functional fragmentation, territorial fragmentation, and intergovernmental fragmentation, and I specify the effects of each type...

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2. Beijing: Bureaucratic Anarchy and Symbolic Preservation

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pp. 23-64

On a hot summer day in 2010, I went to interview an official in a district government of Beijing who is in charge of cultural heritage preservation in the district. Our interview place was chosen in a temple, located in the center of the city but no longer open to the public, where he and his assistants...

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3. Chicago: Aldermanic Fiefdoms and Mosaic Preservation

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pp. 65-102

During my first research trip to Chicago in 2004, I was lucky to meet with and have a long conversation with the deputy commissioner of the Chicago Landmarks Division. After giving me a historical overview of preservation policies in Chicago, he asked me whether I had spoken to any aldermen...

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4. Paris: Intergovernmental Competition and Joint Preservation

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pp. 103-145

In January 2007, at the end of my research trip to Paris, I was stunned by the news that the Paris Municipal Government was sued by the French National Government in the Administrative Court of Paris. The cause of the lawsuit was an urban development plan (Plans Locaux d’Urbanisme...

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Conclusion: Political Boundaries and Beyond

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pp. 147-157

Urban preservation is fraught with paradox and controversy. Despite the original goals of urban preservation to protect the architectural integrity and social sustainability of cities, the practice of urban preservation in modern cities is motivated by different political and economic concerns....


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pp. 159-161


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pp. 163-177


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pp. 179-201

E-ISBN-13: 9780816688180
E-ISBN-10: 0816688184
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816683697

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Globalization and Community
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OCLC Number: 861538297
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation