The Ohio State University Press

Urban Life and Urban Landscape

Edited by Zane L. Miller

Published by: The Ohio State University Press

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Urban Life and Urban Landscape

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High Stakes

Big Time Sports and Downtown Development

Unlike so many other cities around the country, Columbus citizens gave a firm “no” to the proposal that public money be used to build an arena to attract an expansion professional hockey team and a soccer stadium to keep a professional franchise. Yet, both structures are now a permanent part of Columbus’s landscape. High Stakes is the inside story of how a coalition of the city’s movers and shakers successfully did an end-run around the electorate to build these sports complexes. As it turned out, everybody appears to have won: taxpayers were relieved of any funding obligation, the coalition got the new facilities, and the new arena jumpstarted downtown redevelopment. Now, the Columbus case is being touted as the model of how to use professional sports to improve a city’s downtown with minimal taxpayer expense. Professional sports have become a primary tool for the downtown redevelopment of many large cities. High Stakes portrays in vivid detail the twists and turns as this unlikely group fought doggedly to make their dream—and Columbus’s prosperous future—a reality.

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Lake Effects

A History of Urban Policy Making in Cleveland, 1825-1929

Lake Effects is a history of urban policy making in the large Midwestern industrial city of Cleveland, Ohio. Urban policy making requires goal setting in four critical areas: economic development, urban growth, services, and wealth redistribution. Ronald Weiner shows how urban policy was conceived and implemented by the local governing elites, or regimes, between 1825 and 1929. Each regime—Merchant, Populist, Corporate, and Realty—set policy goals in the four areas; set priorities among the goals; and used their power, public and private, to guide the city toward these ends. Each regime dominated policy making for at least twenty years, and the successes and failures of each regime contribute to our understanding of how Cleveland became the city that it is today. The successes of the Merchant Regime’s economic development policy made Cleveland’s industrialization possible. The urban growth policy of the Corporate Regime built the downtown civic center and University Circle. However, the Populist, Corporate, and Realty regimes’ failures to plan for Cleveland’s economic future helped set in motion the declining economic fortunes so harshly in evidence today, and the triumph of the expansionist Realty Regime’s urban growth policy promoted heedless suburban development at the expense of the central business district and inner city.

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Merchant of Illusion

James Rouse, America's Salesman of the Businessman's Utopia

Merchant of Illusion revisits the intriguing projects and ideas of famed developer James Rouse. Known mainly for his “Festival Marketplaces” in Boston and Baltimore, Rouse actually played a more important role in redefining private sector urban policy as the leading force in American public life. He argued persuasively—using diverse means of communication—that the private sector, with only limited state aid, had the ability to create a nearly ideal urban order. The shopping centers, planned communities, downtown redevelopment projects, community development corporations and festival marketplaces he helped pioneer, develop, and publicize became America’s compelling answer to state-dominated urbanism in the Soviet Union and social democratic Europe. Although Rouse occasionally acknowledged the limitations of his privatized brand of public policy, and the continuing urban crisis, his own critical insights were overshadowed by his high-profile projects. Bloom examines Rouse’s major spheres of activities, both their strengths and weaknesses, in thematic chapters. Merchant of Illusion, by evaluating Rouse’s activities in the context of cold war ideology and competition, provides a much needed critical treatment of the rise of private sector urbanism in the United States. For this reason and many others it will be of great interest to urban and cultural historians, political scientists, sociologists, planners and the general public with an interest in urban affairs. Merchant of Illusion follows on the heels of Bloom’s first book, Suburban Alchemy, which looks at three suburban “new towns” of the era, one of which—Columbia, Maryland—was Rouse’s brainchild.

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New York City

An Outsider's Inside View

How is it possible to approach a city like New York without falling back on old stereotypes, glossy pictures, and touristy routes? Is it possible without writing yet another “guide to the city”? Against all odds, New York City: An Outsider’s Inside View looks at the city with the informed eye of a historian and the innocent eye of an outsider ready and willing to catch the city off-guard. It is organized to lead the reader along paths that stay clear of the well-trodden ones. Mario Maffi treats his readers to new maps of an ever-present city, dotted with small museums; unknown underworlds; sounds, images, and words; villages in the city; bridges both real and metaphorical; the hidden or overlooked history; the past in the present. New York’s prismatic quality is enhanced by a narration that flows in a conversational style, is arranged around a highly personal point of view, and is sustained by a neat historical and cultural approach. New York City: An Outsider’s Inside View is more than a guide yet different from an essay—it is nothing short of an affectionate and nuanced portrait of a city in words.

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Suburban Steel

The Magnificent Failure of the Lustron Corporation, 1945-1951

Suburban Steel chronicles the rise and fall of the Lustron Corporation, once the largest and most completely industrialized housing company in U.S. history. Beginning in 1947, Lustron manufactured porcelain-enameled steel houses in a one-million-square-foot plant in Columbus, Ohio. With forty million dollars in federal funds and support from the highest levels of the Truman administration, the company planned to produce one hundred houses per day, each neatly arranged on specially designed tractor-trailers for delivery throughout the country. Lustron’s unprecedented size and scope of operations attracted intense scrutiny. The efficiencies of uninterrupted production, integrated manufacturing, and economies of scale promised to lead the American housing industry away from its decentralized, undercapitalized, and inefficient past toward a level of rationalization and organization found in other sectors of the industrial economy. The company’s failure marked a watershed in the history of the American housing industry. Although people did not quit talking about industrialized housing, enthusiasm for its role in the transformation of the housing industry at large markedly waned. Suburban Steel considers Lustron’s magnificent failure in the context of historical approaches to the nation’s perpetual shortage of affordable housing, arguing that had Lustron’s path not been interrupted, affordable and desirable housing for America’s masses would be far more prevalent today.

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