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Tourism, Culture, and Race in the Big Easy
Honorable Mention for the 2008 Robert Park Outstanding Book Award given by the ASA's Community and Urban Sociology Section
Mardi Gras, jazz, voodoo, gumbo, Bourbon Street, the French Quarter—all evoke that place that is unlike any other: New Orleans. In Authentic New Orleans, Kevin Fox Gotham explains how New Orleans became a tourist town, a spectacular locale known as much for its excesses as for its quirky Southern charm.
Gotham begins in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina amid the whirlwind of speculation about the rebuilding of the city and the dread of outsiders wiping New Orleans clean of the grit that made it great. He continues with the origins of Carnival and the Mardi Gras celebration in the nineteenth century, showing how, through careful planning and promotion, the city constructed itself as a major tourist attraction. By examining various image-building campaigns and promotional strategies to disseminate a palatable image of New Orleans on a national scale Gotham ultimately establishes New Orleans as one of the originators of the mass tourism industry—which linked leisure to travel, promoted international expositions, and developed the concept of pleasure travel.
Gotham shows how New Orleans was able to become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States, especially through the transformation of Mardi Gras into a national, even international, event. All the while Gotham is concerned with showing the difference between tourism from above and tourism from below—that is, how New Orleans’ distinctiveness is both maximized, some might say exploited, to serve the global economy of tourism as well as how local groups and individuals use tourism to preserve and anchor longstanding communal traditions.
Detroit and the Anxiety of Decline
Ethnographies of the New Second Generation
More than half of New Yorkers under the age of 18 are the children of immigrants. This second generation shares with previous waves of immigrant youth the experience of attempting to reconcile their cultural heritage with American society. In Becoming New Yorkers, noted social scientists Philip Kasinitz, John Mollenkopf, and Mary Waters bring together in-depth ethnographies of some of New York’s largest immigrant populations to assess the experience of the new second generation and to explore the ways in which they are changing the fabric of American culture. Becoming New Yorkers looks at the experience of specific immigrant groups, with regard to education, jobs, and community life. Exploring immigrant education, Nancy López shows how teachers’ low expectations of Dominican males often translate into lower graduation rates for boys than for girls. In the labor market, Dae Young Kim finds that Koreans, young and old alike, believe the second generation should use the opportunities provided by their parents’ small business success to pursue less arduous, more rewarding work than their parents. Analyzing civic life, Amy Forester profiles how the high-ranking members of a predominantly black labor union, who came of age fighting for civil rights in the 1960s, adjust to an increasingly large Caribbean membership that sees the leaders not as pioneers but as the old-guard establishment. In a revealing look at how the second-generation views itself, Sherry Ann Butterfield and Aviva Zeltzer-Zubida point out that black West Indian and Russian Jewish immigrants often must choose whether to identify themselves alongside those with similar skin color or to differentiate themselves from both native blacks and whites based on their unique heritage. Like many other groups studied here, these two groups experience race as a fluid, situational category that matters in some contexts but is irrelevant in others. As immigrants move out of gateway cities and into the rest of the country, America will increasingly look like the multicultural society vividly described in Becoming New Yorkers. This insightful work paints a vibrant picture of the experience of second generation Americans as they adjust to American society and help to shape its future.
Chicago's Mass News Media, 1833-1898
Becoming the Second City examines the development of Chicago's press and analyzes coverage of key events in its history to call attention to the media's impact in shaping the city's cultural and historical landscape. In concise, extensively documented prose, Richard Junger illustrates how nineteenth-century newspapers acted as accelerants that boosted the growth of Chicago in its early history by continually making and remaking the city's public image as the nation's populous "Second City." Highlighting the newspaper industry's involvement in the business and social life of Chicago, Junger casts newspaper editors and reporters as critical intermediaries between the elite and the larger public and revisits key events and issues including the Haymarket Square bombing, the 1871 fire, the Pullman Strike, and the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893.
An Oral History of African American Life in the Bronx from the 1930s to the 1960s
People associate the South Bronx with gangs, violence, drugs, crime, burnt out buildings, and poverty. This is the message that has been driven into their heads over the years by the media. As Howard Cosell famously said during the 1977 World’s series at Yankee Stadium, "There it is, ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning." In this new book, Naison and Gumbs provide a completely different picture of the South Bronx through interviews with residents that lived there from the 1930s to the 1960s. In the early 1930s, word began to spread among economically secure black families in Harlem that there were spacious apartments for rent in the Morrisania section of the Bronx. Landlords in that community, desperate to fill their rent rolls and avoid foreclosure, began putting up signs in their windows and in advertisements in New York’s black newspapers, which said “We rent to select colored families," by which they meant families with a securely employed wage earner and light complexions. Black families who fit those criteria began renting apartments by the score. Thus began a period of about twenty years where the Bronx served as a borough of hope and unlimited possibilities for upwardly mobile black families.Chronicling a time when African Americans were suspended between the best and worst possibilities of New York City, Before the Fires tells the personal stories of seventeen men and women who lived in the South Bronx before the social and economic decline of the area that began in the late 1960s. Located on a hill hovering over one of the borough’s largest industrial districts, Morrisania offered black migrants from Harlem, the South, and the Caribbean with an opportunity to raise children in a neighborhood that had better schools, strong churches, better shopping, less crime, and clean air. This culturally rich neighborhood also boasted some of the most vibrant music venues in all of New York City, giving rise to such music titans as Lou Donaldson, Valerie Capers, Herbie Hancock, Eddie Palmieri, Donald Byrd, Elmo Hope, Henry “Red” Allen, Bobby Sanabria, Valerie Simpson, Maxine Sullivan, the Chantals, the Chords, and Jimmy Owens.Alternately analytical and poetic, but all rich in detail, these inspiring interviews describe growing up and living in vibrant black and multiracial Bronx communities whose contours have rarely graced the pages of histories of the Bronx or black New York City. Capturing the excitement of growing up in this stimulating and culturally diverse environment, Before the Fires is filled with the optimism of the period and heartache of what was shattered in the urban crisis and the burning of the Bronx.
Power and Privilege in a Multiethnic Neighborhood
The link between residential segregation and racial inequality is well established, so it would seem that greater equality would prevail in integrated neighborhoods. But as Mayorga-Gallo argues, multiethnic and mixed-income neighborhoods still harbor the signs of continued, systemic racial inequalities. Drawing on deep ethnographic and other innovative research from "Creekside Park," a pseudonymous suburban community in Durham, North Carolina, Mayorga-Gallo demonstrates that the proximity of white, African American, and Latino neighbors does not ensure equity; rather, proximity and equity are in fact subject to structural-level processes of stratification.
Olmsted, Vaux, and the Buffalo Park System
Beginning in 1868, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux created a series of parks and parkways for Buffalo, New York, that drew national and international attention. The improvements carefully augmented the city’s original plan with urban design features inspired by Second Empire Paris, including the first system of “parkways” to grace an American city. Displaying the plan at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Olmsted declared Buffalo “the best planned city, as to streets, public places, and grounds, in the United States, if not in the world.” Olmsted and Vaux dissolved their historic partnership in 1872, but Olmsted continued his association with the Queen City of the Lakes, designing additional parks and laying out important sites within the growing metropolis. When Niagara Falls was threatened by industrial development, he led a campaign to protect the site and in 1885 succeeded in persuading New York to create the Niagara Reservation, the present Niagara Falls State Park. Two years later, Olmsted and Vaux teamed up again, this time to create a plan for the area around the Falls, a project the two grand masters regarded as “the most difficult problem in landscape architecture to do justice to.” In this book Francis R. Kowsky illuminates this remarkable constellation of projects. Utilizing original plans, drawings, photographs, and copious numbers of reports and letters, he brings new perspective to this vast undertaking, analyzing it as a cohesive expression of the visionary landscape and planning principles that Olmsted and Vaux pioneered.
Across the United States, historic preservation has become a catalyst for urban regeneration. Entrepreneurs, urban pioneers, and veteran city dwellers have refurbished thousands of dilapidated properties and put them to productive use as shops, restaurants, nightclubs, museums, and private residences. As a result, inner-cities, once disparaged as zones of poverty, crime, and decay have been re-branded as historic districts. Although these preservation initiatives, often supported by government tax incentives and rigid architectural controls, deserve credit for bringing people back to the city, raising property values, and generating tourist revenue, they have been less successful in creating stable and harmonious communities.
Beyond Preservation proposes a framework for stabilizing and strengthening inner-city neighborhoods through the public interpretation of historic landscapes. Its central argument is that inner-city communities can best turn preserved landscapes into assets by subjecting them to public interpretation at the grass-roots. Based on an examination of successful projects in St. Louis, Missouri and other U.S. cities, Andrew Hurley demonstrates how rigorous historical analysis can help communities articulate a local identity and plan intelligently on the basis of existing cultural and social assets.