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The Modern American Metropolis: A Documentary Reader



The Modern American Metropolis: A Documentary Reader

David M. P. Freund (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-444-33900-0 February 2015 Wiley-Blackwell 344 Pages

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The Modern American Metropolis: A Documentary Reader introduces the history of American cities and suburbs through a collection of original source materials that historians have long used to make sense of the urban experience.

  • Carefully integrates and juxtaposes the primary sources that are at the heart of the collection
  • Revisits and compares issues and themes over time
  • Reveals how the history of cities and suburbs is not limited to buildings, innovation, and politics, and not confined to municipal boundaries
  • Explores a wide variety of topics, including infrastructure development, electoral politics, consumer culture, battles over rights, environmental change, and the meaning of citizenship

List of Illustrations xii

Series Editors’ Preface xiv

Acknowledgments xvi

Source Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction Or, What Can a Wet Basement

Tell Us about Metropolitan History? 1

Part I Cities and Hinterlands in Mid-Nineteenth-Century America 27

Chapter 1 Transforming the Landscape and Its Functions 29

1 Chicago’s Daily Democrat Measures the Impact of the Transport Revolution, 1852 29

2 Cyrus McCormick Markets the Virginia Reaper to the Nation’s Farmers, 1850 and 1851 36

3 Texans Appeal for the Removal of Native Peoples, 1858–1859 40

4 Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine Discusses the Value of Slave Labor, 1855–1858 45

Chapter 2 Snapshots of Urban Life on the Eve of the Civil War 50

1 An Irish Immigrant Writes Home about Life in the United States, 1850 50

2 Frederick Law Olmsted Compares Northern and Southern Cities along the Atlantic Seaboard, 1856 53

3 The New York Times Reports on a Millworker Strike in Lynn and Marblehead, 1859 60

4 Reverend Albert Williams Describes San Francisco’s Fires 63

Part II From Walking City to Industrial Metropolis, 1860–1920 69

Chapter 3 Commerce and the Metropolis 71

1 The Pacific Railway Act of 1862 Connects the Nation 71

2 William Dean Howells Describes Suburban Boston, 1872 75

3 August Spies Addresses Workers about Their Conditions, 1886 80

4 An Engineer Describes the Work Required to Make Seattle Competitive, 1908 84

5 New York City Retailers Organize to Protect a Fifth Avenue Shopping District, 1916 87

Chapter 4 “Natives,” Migrants, and Immigrants 90

1 A Polish Immigrant Describes Life and Work in New York City, 1902 90

2 Unions Call for Boycott of Chinese and Their Patrons, 1891–1892 96

3 La Crónica Reports on Challenges Facing the Texan Mexican Community, 1910–1911 97

4 Good Housekeeping Counsels “The Commuter’s Wife,” 1909 106

5 Black Southerners Write the Chicago Defender for Information about Employment, 1916–1918 110

Chapter 5 Big City Life 118

1 Urban Imagery, 1889–1913 118

2 A Young Governess Discusses Her New Freedoms, 1903 122

3 A Columnist Describes the Pleasures and Perils of Coney Island, 1915 125

4 A Harper’s Weekly Columnist Worries about Garbage, 1891 129

Chapter 6 Local Politics in the Gilded Age 135

1 George Washington Plunkitt Defends Patronage Politics in New York City, 1905 135

2 Dallas City Commissioner Advocates Running a City Like a Business, 1909 139

3 Jane Addams Describes the Goals of Hull House, 1893 141

4 An Economist Investigates Employers’ Response to Labor Unions 147

Part III City and Suburb Ascendant, 1920–1945 155

Chapter 7 Commerce, Consumption, and the Suburban Trend 157

1 An Investment Banker Insists that “Everyone Ought to Be Rich,” 1929 157

2 Commerce and the Good Life 159

3 Former Employees Describe Finding Work and Building Cars for Ford Motor Company 160

4 Alfred Kazin Recalls New York City’s Ethnic Boundaries Before World War II 170

5 A Social Scientist Explains the “Suburban Trend,” 1925 175

6 Suburban Speculation Creates Empty Subdivisions, 1925 179

Chapter 8 Economic Collapse and Metropolitan Crisis 182

1 The New Deal Rebuilds the Metropolis during the Great Depression 182

2 Jane Yoder Describes Living through the Depression in a Central Illinois Mining Town 185

3 Langston Hughes Remembers Rent Parties in Harlem 187

4 Jose Yglesias Describes the 1930s in Tampa and New York City 190

Chapter 9 The Metropolis at War 194

1 The LA Chamber of Commerce Coordinates the Region’s War Production Efforts, 1942–1943 194

2 Henry Cervantes Describes His Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to World War II Hero 199

3 White Transit Workers Walk Off the Job in Philadelphia, 1944 206

4 Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston Recounts Her Family’s Forced Relocation from Santa Monica, California 208

Part IV Creating a Suburban Nation, 1945–1970s 215

Chapter 10 “The Affluent Society” 217

1 Veterans Line Up for Homes in Long Island, 1949 217

2 Sunset Magazine Markets a Suburban Way of Living, 1946 and 1958 219

3 Ebony Discusses Homeownership and Domestic Life for a Steelworker’s Family in Gary, Indiana, 1957 223

4 Catherine Marshall Defends a Woman’s Right to Work, 1954 226

Chapter 11 Public Policy and “Best Use” in American Neighborhoods 229

1 The Federal Housing Administration Defines Value in Single-Family Suburban Housing 229

2 A US Senator Argues That Military Spending Is Producing Inequality, 1962 232

3 Herbert Gans Critiques Federal Urban Renewal Programs, 1959 236

4 U.S. News and World Report Warns of Contaminated Suburban Water Supplies, 1963 240

Chapter 12 Metropolitan Contests over Citizenship, Rights, and Access 244

1 Local Activists Organize a Boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, 1954 244

2 Suburban Homeowners Mobilize to Exclude “Incompatible” Development, 1950–1951 250

3 Residents of a Memphis Neighborhood Block Construction of the Interstate, 1967 253

4 Activists Define Black Power, 1967 257

5 Gays and Lesbians in New York City Organize to Combat Discrimination, 1969 263

6 A Photograph Captures Divisions in Boston over Court-Ordered Busing, 1976 264

Part V What Makes a City? The “Postindustrial” Metropolis 269

Chapter 13 Redefining “Urban” and “Suburban” 271

1 U.S. Steel Demolishes Its Plant in Youngstown, Ohio, 1983 271

2 Hoboken Residents Debate the “Yuppie” Invasion, 1984–1987 273

3 Jersey City Markets Itself to a New Demographic, 2003 and 2006 278

4 A Professor Explains How Urban Redevelopment Has Impacted Los Angeles’s Minority Communities, 1987/1988 281

5 Planners Assess an Experiment in “New Urbanism” (Before the Great Recession), 1999 286

Chapter 14 Growth and Its Challenges 292

1 The Global Economy and Global Politics Create New Challenges in the Twin Cities Region, 2012 292

2 College Students in Merced Rent Empty McMansions, 2011 295

3 The Great Wall of Los Angeles Pictures the Region’s Development History, 1974 to the Present 298

4 City Building in Kansas: An Immigrant’s Perspective, 2007 300

5 Developers in Los Angeles County Spark a Twenty-First-Century Debate over City Building and
Environmental Protection, 2009 305

Further Reading 313

Index 319