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Becoming the Second City

Chicago's Mass News Media, 1833-1898

Richard Junger

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.

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Before the Fires

An Oral History of African American Life in the Bronx from the 1930s to the 1960s

Mark Naison, and Bob Gumbs

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.

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Behind the White Picket Fence

Power and Privilege in a Multiethnic Neighborhood

Sarah Mayorga-Gallo

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.

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The Best Planned City in the World

Olmsted, Vaux, and the Buffalo Park System

Francis R. Kowsky New photography by Andy Olenick

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.

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Beyond Preservation

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.    

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Beyond Segregation

At a time when cities appear to be fragmenting mosaics of ethnic enclaves, it is reassuring to know there are still stable multicultural neighborhoods. Beyond Segregation offers a tour of some of America's best known multiethnic neighborhoods: Uptown in Chicago, Jackson Heights (Queens), and San Antonio-Fruitvale in Oakland. Readers will learn the history of the neighborhoods and develop an understanding of the people that reside in them, the reasons they stay, and the work it takes to maintain each neighborhood as an affordable, integrated place to live.

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Bike Lanes Are White Lanes

Bicycle Advocacy and Urban Planning

Melody L Hoffmann

The number of bicyclists is increasing in the United States, especially among the working class and people of color. In contrast to the demographics of bicyclists in the United States, advocacy for bicycling has focused mainly on the interests of white upwardly mobile bicyclists, leading to neighborhood conflicts and accusations of racist planning.

In Bike Lanes Are White Lanes, scholar Melody L. Hoffmann argues that the bicycle has varied cultural meaning as a “rolling signifier.” That is, the bicycle’s meaning changes in different spaces, with different people, and in different cultures. The rolling signification of the bicycle contributes to building community, influences gentrifying urban planning, and upholds systemic race and class barriers.

In this study of three prominent U.S. cities—Milwaukee, Portland, and Minneapolis—Hoffmann examines how the burgeoning popularity of urban bicycling is trailed by systemic issues of racism, classism, and displacement. From a pro-cycling perspective, Bike Lanes Are White Lanes highlights many problematic aspects of urban bicycling culture and its advocacy as well as positive examples of people trying earnestly to bring their community together through bicycling.
             
 
 

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Blockbusting in Baltimore

The Edmondson Village Story

W. Edward Orser

This innovative study of racial upheaval and urban transformation in Baltimore, Maryland investigates the impact of "blockbusting" -- a practice in which real estate agents would sell a house on an all-white block to an African American family with the aim of igniting a panic among the other residents. These homeowners would often sell at a loss to move away, and the real estate agents would promote the properties at a drastic markup to African American buyers.

In this groundbreaking book, W. Edward Orser examines Edmondson Village, a west Baltimore rowhouse community where an especially acute instance of blockbusting triggered white flight and racial change on a dramatic scale. Between 1955 and 1965, nearly twenty thousand white residents, who saw their secure world changing drastically, were replaced by blacks in search of the American dream. By buying low and selling high, playing on the fears of whites and the needs of African Americans, blockbusters set off a series of events that Orser calls "a collective trauma whose significance for recent American social and cultural history is still insufficiently appreciated and understood."

Blockbusting in Baltimore describes a widely experienced but little analyzed phenomenon of recent social history. Orser makes an important contribution to community and urban studies, race relations, and records of the African American experience.

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Bloomberg's New York

Class and Governance in the Luxury City

Julian Brash

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg claims to run the city like a business. In Bloomberg’s New York, Julian Brash applies methods from anthropology, geography, and other social science disciplines to examine what that means. He describes the mayor’s attitude toward governance as the Bloomberg Way—a philosophy that holds up the mayor as CEO, government as a private corporation, desirable residents and businesses as customers and clients, and the city itself as a product to be branded and marketed as a luxury good.
 
Commonly represented as pragmatic and nonideological, the Bloomberg Way, Brash argues, is in fact an ambitious reformulation of neoliberal governance that advances specific class interests. He considers the implications of this in a blow-by-blow account of the debate over the Hudson Yards plan, which aimed to transform Manhattan’s far west side into the city’s next great high-end district. Bringing this plan to fruition proved surprisingly difficult as activists and entrenched interests pushed back against the Bloomberg administration, suggesting that despite Bloomberg’s success in redrawing the rules of urban governance, older political arrangements—and opportunities for social justice—remain.

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