Skip to main content

Urban America in the Modern Age: 1920 to the Present, 2nd Edition

Urban America in the Modern Age: 1920 to the Present, 2nd Edition

Carl Abbott

ISBN: 978-0-882-95247-5 December 2006 Wiley-Blackwell 256 Pages


In Stock



Since the appearance of Urban America in the Modern Age in 1987, the study of American cities has flourished. In this long-awaited second edition, Carl Abbott draws on the recent works of historians who have explored issues of urban growth, municipal politics, immigration and ethnicity, “suburbanization,” and environmental change. The fascination with growth and change in the nation’s metropolitan areas spans a wide range of scholarly fields, and the new edition also benefits from scholarship in disciplines closely related to urban history, including geography, political science, sociology, and urban planning.

Featuring an entirely new chapter covering the years since 1980 and a bank of interesting photographs, the second edition of Urban America in the Modern Age further explores and fine-tunes the themes and topics central to its predecessor—the physical form of metropolitan areas, their sources of growth and mix of ethnic and racial groups, the shaping of and responses to public policy, and ideas of community planning.

Regionally balanced—with examples from New York, Boston, and Chicago, as well as Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, San Antonio, Miami, Charlotte, Washington, Detroit, and Cleveland—the second edition of Urban America in the Modern Age makes ideal supplementary reading for courses in Urban History, twentieth-century America, as well as the second half of the U.S. survey.

Foreword V

Preface IX

INTRODUCTION: The Metropolitan Era 1

CHAPTER ONE: The First Modern Cities 9

Core and Periphery 10

The Climax of Immigration 16

The Transition of Reform 22

Making the African American Ghettos 27

Model T Suburbs 36

Urban Survival in the Great Depression 44

City Problems and Possibilities 51

CHAPTER TWO; Building and Rebuilding 53

Cities at War 55

The Landscape of Prosperity 60

Neighborhood Change and the Northward Movement 67

The Politics of Growth 74

Federal Housing and Federal Highways 80

Metropolitan Governments 86

Evaluating the Great Cities 90

CHAPTER THREE: A New Urban America 93

Discovering the Sunbelt 96

New Americans 101

The Exploded Metropolis 105

The Urban Crisis 110

The Decline of Policy 117

The Vitality of the Everyday City 125

CHAPTER FOUR: Prosperity and Poverty 134

The Age of Real Estate 135

Entrepreneurial Cities 145

International Cities 154

Back in the ‘Hood: Poverty and Place 160

Planning Compact Cities 168

POSTSCRIPT: The Promise of Urban Life 180

Bibliographical Essay 187

Index 211

Photographs follow page 133

Maps, Tables Diagrams

TABLE 1.1 Urbanization of the United States in the Twentieth Century 3

TABLE 1.2 Metropolitan Population 1920—2000 4

TABLE 1.3 Suburban Population 1920—2000 6

MAP: Metropolitan Districts in 1930 13

TABLE 1.1 Origins of European-Born Population of Twenty-five Large Cities, 1920 19

MAP: San Francisco: Origin of Out-of-Town War Workers 57

MAP: Racial Violence in Chicago, 1756—57 72

MAP: Revitalizing Neighborhoods in Major Cities 127

TABLE 4.1 Greatest Populations Giants & Losses, 1990—2000: Metropolitan Statistical Areas 137

Diagram: Old and New Neighborhood Patterns 143

Diagram : The Central City as Disneyland 151

TABLE 4.2 Global Network Connectedness of U.S. Cities 157

MAP: Ten Megalopolitan Areas and Their Interstate Highways 178

TABLE P.1 Populations of Twelve Largest Metropolitan Areas, 1920 and 2000 181

Praise for the first edition:

"Carl Abbott has produced a superb overview of modern US history, truly a state-of-the-art text... His mastery of fine detail and the variety and breadth of examples, drawn from a truly national cross-section of cities, are the most impressive features of the book." (Design Book Review, Spring 1988)

"Urban America in the Modern Age is an extraordinarily good short survey of modern unrban history; while directed toward the college classroom, it would make excellent reading for nonstudents as well." (Indiana Magazine of History, September 1988)