By Steven Conn
T is a paradox of yankee lifestyles that we're a hugely urbanized state choked with humans deeply ambivalent approximately city lifestyles. An aversion to city density and all that it contributes to city existence, and a belief that town used to be where the place "big government" first took root in the United States fostered what historian Steven Conn phrases the "anti-urban impulse." In reaction, anti-urbanists referred to as for the decentralization of town, and rejected the function of presidency in American lifestyles in want of a go back to the pioneer virtues of independence and self-sufficiency. during this provocative and sweeping publication, Conn explores the anti-urban impulse around the twentieth century, studying how the guidelines born of it have formed either the locations during which americans stay and paintings, and the anti-government politics so powerful this present day. starting within the booming business towns of the innovative period on the flip of the twentieth century, the place debate surrounding those questions first arose, Conn examines the development of anti-urban events. : He describes the decentralist flow of the Nineteen Thirties, the try to revive the yankee small city within the mid-century, the anti-urban foundation of city renewal within the Fifties and '60s, and the Nixon administration's application of establishing new cities as a reaction to the city quandary, illustrating how, via the center of the 20 th century, anti-urbanism used to be on the heart of the politics of the recent correct. Concluding with an exploration of the recent Urbanist experiments on the flip of the twenty first century, Conn demonstrates the entire breadth of the anti-urban impulse, from its inception to the current day. Engagingly written, completely researched, and forcefully argued, americans opposed to town is critical analyzing for someone who cares not only in regards to the heritage of our towns, yet approximately their destiny in addition.
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Extra info for Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth Century
Hull House residents focused their lens almost microscopically, gathering details about the people who lived in this small corner of Chicago. Burnham pulled his lens back as far as he could and produced a vision devoid of real people. The plan is a visual embodiment of urban forces—transportation, industry, commerce—and above all, it envisions growth. At the time of the plan’s publication, Chicagoans routinely and casually predicted that their metropolis would grow to be the largest city in the world within a century, rightful heir to Athens, Rome, and London.
But there 2 0 • A m e r i c a n s A g ai n s t t h e Ci t y is more to his midwestern-ness than that. The romantic version of American history that crystallized in the nineteenth century is, first and foremost, a midwestern story. The nation might have begun on the coast, but it was on the rolling prairies of the Midwest that it truly manifested its destiny. The midwestern story, brimming with energy and optimism, filled with the boosters’ uncritical celebration of progress, became the American story in the second half of the nineteenth century, free as it was from the darkness of southern history or the nostalgic laments that could be heard in New England.
Progressives looked at the city and saw its constituent parts; they attempted to take the great, chaotic whole and dissect it into smaller, more rational pieces. Run down the litany of their reform efforts, and after you pause to be profoundly impressed, you recognize the way in which the Progressives identified and categorized urban problems in order to formulate urban solutions. Concern over the living conditions of city dwellers led to housing reform and zoning codes; the self-evident problems of sanitation led to improvements in sewers and municipal water supplies; the danger so many industrial workers faced on the job generated tentative efforts to improve workplace safety and establish a system of workers’ compensation; the bewildering variety of immigrants crowding with astonishing speed into Chicago and New York and Cleveland created demand for English classes and citizenship training.
Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth Century by Steven Conn