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urban history



  • Black Family History Opens New Archives

    by Paula C. Austin, Catherine Nelson and Donna Payne Wilson

    Paula Austin's history of Black Washington depended on the knowledge and memorial work of generations of Black families, who have preserved history that is not kept in traditional archives. 



  • Mike Davis Forced Readers to Embrace Specificity

    by Gabriel Winant

    The recently deceased radical scholar never allowed the particularity of historical moments to disappear under theoretical abstraction, which made his work powerful and compelling. 



  • Immigrant Merchants and Law-and-Order Politics in Detroit

    by Kenneth Alyass

    The Chaldean community of Detroit became a significant middleman-minority through the operation of small stores in working-class and majority-Black neighborhoods. As white flight and disinvestment created increasingly dire conditions, they also became a constituency for aggressive policing. 



  • The Tyranny of the Maps: Rethinking Redlining

    by Robert Gioielli

    The four-color mortgage security maps created by New Deal-era bureaucrats and bankers have become a widely-known symbol of housing discrimination and the racial wealth gap. But does the public familiarity with the maps obscure the history of housing discrimination? And what can historians do about that?



  • Black-Brown Solidarity has been Elusive in Los Angeles

    by Erin Aubry Kaplan

    For decades, the increasing Latino presence in previously Black neighborhoods in South Los Angeles has raised concerns about political representation and hopes for a cross-racial movement for a more just city. Recent leaked city councl tapes show things are far from settled. 



  • Mike Davis, 1946-2022

    by Jon Wiener

    "Mike hated being called “a prophet of doom.” Yes, LA did explode two years after City of Quartz; the fires and floods did get more intense after Ecology of Fear, and of course a global pandemic did follow The Monster at Our Door."



  • The Limits of Nonprofit Urban Development in Boston

    by Claire Dunning

    In Boston, nonprofit agencies became the principal vehicle for redevelopment. While they could empower residents of poor communities to compete for grants and negotiate with city authorities, they couldn't make a deep impact on inequality in the city and let city agencies off the hook for discriminatory policies. 



  • The Lost Art of Maintenance

    The struggles of the New York transit system to preserve the useful life of its train cars, and to prevent problems before they occur, reflects deep and troubling changes in society's relationship to infrastructure and labor power. 



  • Mr. Biden, Tear Down this Highway

    It's time to stop expanding the urban highways that divide communities, perpetuate racial segregation and harm health, and to consider removing them entirely, argues one architectural designer. 



  • What's Causing a Half Century of "Black Flight"?

    Despite political rhetoric from some quarters, suburbanization has been undermining the association of Black America with central cities – in large part because of the disinvestment and abandonment of urban communities. 



  • Landmark Building Embodies Past and Present of DC's Black Community

    The True Reformer Building in Washington is likely the first in the nation to be designed, funded, built and owned by African Americans as part of a comprehensive mission of economic and social self-reliance and uplift in the early 20th century. 



  • The Democratic Possibilities of Cruising

    by Jack Parlett

    As a practice, cruising exemplifies the possibilities of urban culture by bringing people into contact with strangers and enabling them to recognize common desires. The history of crusing shows it's not just about sex, but about democracy. 



  • Are Co-Ops the Lost Solution to the Housing Crisis?

    by Annemarie Sammartino

    At its 1966 opening, New York's Co-Op City was heralded as the solution to the nation's affordable housing crisis. What went right, what went wrong, and can it help guide better housing policy today?



  • Documentary Shows the Choices that Led to Deadly Streets

    Blaming distraction—by drivers, pedestrians or cyclists—for climbing road fatalities is a cop-out, says Jennifer Boyd. Americans need to be willing to question the basic design of roads and the priority they give to moving cars fast if they are serious about reducing road deaths.