Planning emerged from the concerns of progressive reformers and businessmen over the social and physical problems of the city. In the Steel City enlightened planners such as Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and Frederick Bigger pioneered the practical approach to reordering the chaotic urban-industrial landscape. In the face of obstacles that included the embedded tradition of privatism, rugged topography, inherited built environment, and chronic political fragmentation, they established a tradition of modern planning in Pittsburgh.
Over the years a mélange of other distinguished local and national figures joined in the planning dialogue, among them the park founder Edward Bigelow, political bosses Christopher Magee and William Flinn, mayors George Guthrie and William Magee, industrialists Andrew Carnegie and Howard Heinz, financier Richard King Mellon, and planning luminaries Charles Mulford Robinson, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., Harland Bartholomew, Robert Moses, and Pittsburgh’s Frederick Bigger. The famed alliance of Richard King Mellon and Mayor David Lawrence, which heralded the Renaissance, owed a great debt to Pittsburgh’s prior planning experience.
John Bauman and Edward Muller recount the city’s long tradition of public/private partnerships as an important factor in the pursuit of orderly and stable urban growth. Before Renaissance provides insights into the major themes, benchmarks, successes, and limitations that marked the formative days of urban planning. It defines Pittsburgh’s key role in the vanguard of the national movement and reveals the individuals and processes that impacted the physical shape and form of a city for generations to come.
Pittsburgh reached its industrial heyday between 1880 and 1920, as vertically integrated industrial corporations forged a regional community in the mountainous Upper Ohio River Valley. Over subsequent decades, metropolitan population growth slowed as mining and manufacturing employment declined. Faced with economic and environmental disaster in the 1930s, Pittsburgh's business elite and political leaders developed an ambitious program of pollution control and infrastructure development. The public-private partnership behind the "Pittsburgh Renaissance," as advocates called it, pursued nothing less than the selective erasure of the existing social and physical environment in favor of a modernist, functionally divided landscape: a goal that was widely copied by other aging cities and one that has important ramifications for the broader national story. Ultimately, the Renaissance vision of downtown skyscrapers, sleek suburban research campuses, and bucolic regional parks resulted in an uneven transformation that tore the urban fabric while leaving deindustrializing river valleys and impoverished coal towns isolated from areas of postwar growth.
Beyond Rust is among the first books of its kind to continue past the collapse of American manufacturing in the 1980s by exploring the diverse ways residents of an iconic industrial region sought places for themselves within a new economic order.
In Design After Decline, Brent D. Ryan reveals the fraught and intermittently successful efforts of architects, planners, and city officials to rebuild shrinking cities following mid-century urban renewal. With modern architecture in disrepute, federal funds scarce, and architects and planners disengaged, politicians and developers were left to pick up the pieces. In twin narratives, Ryan describes how America's two largest shrinking cities, Detroit and Philadelphia, faced the challenge of design after decline in dramatically different ways. While Detroit allowed developers to carve up the cityscape into suburban enclaves, Philadelphia brought back 1960s-style land condemnation for benevolent social purposes. Both Detroit and Philadelphia "succeeded" in rebuilding but at the cost of innovative urban design and planning.
Ryan proposes that the unprecedented crisis facing these cities today requires a revival of the visionary thinking found in the best modernist urban design, tempered with the lessons gained from post-1960s community planning. Depicting the ideal shrinking city as a shifting patchwork of open and settled areas, Ryan concludes that accepting the inevitable decline and abandonment of some neighborhoods, while rebuilding others as new neighborhoods with innovative design and planning, can reignite modernism's spirit of optimism and shape a brighter future for shrinking cities and their residents.
This “powerful and disturbing history” exposes how American governments deliberately imposed racial segregation on metropolitan areas nationwide (New York Times Book Review).
Widely heralded as a “masterful” (Washington Post) and “essential” (Slate) history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law offers “the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood segregation” (William Julius Wilson). Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation; and support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighborhoods. A groundbreaking, “virtually indispensable” study that has already transformed our understanding of twentieth-century urban history (Chicago Daily Observer), The Color of Law forces us to face the obligation to remedy our unconstitutional past.
This book is especially useful for undergraduate and graduate courses on environmental politics and policy making, or as a supplement for courses on public policy making generally.