By Steven Conn
T is a paradox of yank existence that we're a hugely urbanized kingdom 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 was once where the place "big government" first took root in the USA fostered what historian Steven Conn phrases the "anti-urban impulse." In reaction, anti-urbanists known as for the decentralization of the town, and rejected the position of presidency in American lifestyles in prefer of a go back to the pioneer virtues of independence and self-sufficiency. during this provocative and sweeping e-book, Conn explores the anti-urban impulse around the twentieth century, analyzing how the guidelines born of it have formed either the locations during which americans dwell and paintings, and the anti-government politics so powerful this present day. starting within the booming business towns of the revolutionary period on the flip of the twentieth century, the place debate surrounding those questions first arose, Conn examines the development of anti-urban activities. : He describes the decentralist stream of the Nineteen Thirties, the try to revive the yank small city within the mid-century, the anti-urban foundation of city renewal within the Nineteen Fifties and '60s, and the Nixon administration's software of establishing new cities as a reaction to the city hindrance, illustrating how, by way of the center of the twentieth century, anti-urbanism used to be on the middle of the politics of the hot correct. Concluding with an exploration of the hot Urbanist experiments on the flip of the twenty first century, Conn demonstrates the whole 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 studying for an individual who cares not only concerning the historical past of our towns, yet approximately their destiny besides.
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Extra resources for Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth Century
For Addams, and for all those who saw the city from its sidewalks and back alleys, the solutions revolved around zoning and regulation, of the sort the New York Congestion Commission had recommended for Gotham. Different solutions to the same problem, perhaps, but Burnham and Addams also saw that either would require the intervention of government—on the municipal level surely, but at the state and federal level as well. Benjamin Marsh called for a “civic census” conducted by the federal government to study city planning nationally.
But he recognized that much of his plan would require public authority. He had lawyer Walter Fisher write a chapter in the book analyzing the legal aspects of the plan. Fisher concluded that the city and state already had the power to do most of what Burnham proposed. Upon official receipt of the plan, Chicago Mayor Fred Busse gave it his blessing by appointing a 328-member commission to implement the project. From the heavens or from the sidewalks, Burnham and Addams both saw overcrowding as the plague of the city.
By the time the gates of the fair closed, the city was reeling from the full effects of a national economic collapse. 30 In 1897, with the economy beginning to recover, the Merchants Club, a group of striving Chicago businessmen, approached Burnham and asked him to develop a plan for remaking the whole city, the real city—something that would 3 8 • A m e r i c a n s A g ai n s t t h e Ci t y turn Chicago permanently into the White City. He worked on the plan off and on for the next dozen years.