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Annual Editions: Urban Society, 15/e
Unit 1: Urban Growth, Decline, and Renaissance
1. Why Cities Matter, Edward Glaeser, The New Republic, January 19, 2010
Why are cities important? Cities are agglomerations of people, dense pockets of development that facilitate learning and the exchange of ideas, not just commerce. City growth is not simply the result of fortuitous location and advances in technology and transportation. In his book review of Chicago: A Biography, Glaeser traces the entrepreneurship, the spirit of inventiveness, that contributed to the growth of the Windy City. Glaeser observes how Chicago’s place as a center of immigration continues to add to the city’s economic vitality and attractiveness.
2. Eds, Meds and Urban Revival, Rob Gurwitt, Governing, May 2008
U.S. cities are no longer centers of manufacturing. The iron works, steel mills, and large industrial plants of old have largely disappeared from the city landscape. Cities have responded to the decline of manufacturing jobs with efforts to establish a new and more diverse employment base. Large medical complexes and urban universities are now major employers in post-industrial cities. In Birmingham, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and cities across the nation, "Eds and Meds" also provide the research and talent that attracts new firms to a city and helps to rebuild core neighborhoods.
3. Can They Save Youngstown?, Brentin Mock, Next American City Magazine, Fall 2008
Once-major industrial centers have had to cope with a harsh new urban reality, the loss of both jobs and population that will not return. The rash of home loan foreclosures in the early 2000s only further undermined the demand for property in a city’s most distressed communities, communities that had already been severely weakened by the exodus to suburbia. The resulting plague of vacant properties, the abandonment of residential and commercial structures, threatened the health of the community, lessening the value of surrounding properties and imposing huge new costs to the city entailed by mowing the grass and maintaining public safety concerns, including the need to monitor criminal activity, that comes with vacant structures. Youngstown, like Cleveland, Detroit, Dayton, and a number of other former industrial cities has responded to the new urban reality with a policy of planned urban shrinkage, tearing down vacant structures and greening the city by building new parks, bikeways, and green spaces, amenities that can help a city attract new residents and employers.
4. Return to Center, Christopher D. Ringwald, Governing, April 2002
State governments play an important role in urban affairs, enacting policies that can help—or hurt—local communities. A number of states have sought to move governmental offices from the suburbs to downtown as part of a state strategy for urban revival.
5. Predatory Lending: Redlining in Reverse, Gregory D. Squires, Shelterforce, January/February 2005
What caused the crisis in the subprime housing market and the numerous foreclosures on housing loans? Conservative commentators blamed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) with its requirements that lending institutions make loans in inner-city areas. Yet, the evidence shows that the CRA, which was in existence for a quarter of a century before the foreclosure crisis hit, does not merit such blame. Many of the more recent wave of foreclosures involved buyers walking away from condominiums and expensive homes where lending was not subject to CRA regulation. Squires observes that it was not the CRA, but a policy of deregulation or the loosening of government rules that allowed smaller and more unscrupulous credit institutions to enter the home loan field and advance predatory loans that borrowers would have difficulty repaying.
6. Bridge Blockade after Katrina Remains Divisive Issue, Chris Kirkham and Paul Purpura, New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 1, 2007
Is race still an important factor in the American metropolis? What happened in the midst of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, when a largely African-American group of evacuees from New Orleans attempted to cross a bridge and seek safety in suburban Gretna?
Unit 2: Gentrification, Globalization and the City
7. Movers and Shakers: How Immigrants Are Reviving Neighborhoods Given up for Dead, Joel Kotkin, Reason Magazine, December 2000
Immigrants in Los Angeles and other cities are breathing new life into urban neighborhoods that were suffering decline. Immigrant entrepreneurs, important assets in contemporary urban economies, provide just one illustration of how globalization affects cities.
8. Swoons over Miami, Christina Larson, Foreign Policy, August 27, 2010
Saskia Sassen is one of the foremost writers on the subject of globalization and its impact on cites. Sassen discusses some of the aspects of what makes a global city and why a number of cities around the world are large without being truly global.
9. Outsourcing: Beyond Bangalore, Rachael King, Bloomberg Businessweek Special Report, December 11, 2006
Bangalore is the computer and Information Technology center of India. In The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman described how corporations are free to move work that can be digitalized to low-cost sites overseas. Bangalore gained fame as a center of outsourcing, a place where United States and multinational corporations hired local firms to do software development. Bangalore is also a city of call centers where service representatives answer American callers seeking help with computer problems and other consumer matters. But a globalized world knows no boundaries. Bangalore now faces competition from low-wage sites in other countries. The threat to U.S. workers comes not just from India but also from countries where workers earn even lower wages.
10. The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class, (Perseus Books Group, L.L.C., 2002)
Economist Richard Florida argues that the most economically successful cities have built neighborhoods attractive to young, talented, and creative professionals, the creative class. Successful cities build quality living environments with a sense of tolerance of diversity that attracts creative knowledge workers, whose presence, in turn, serves to attract major corporations.
11. Too Much Froth, Joel Kotkin and Fred Siegel, Blueprint, January 8, 2004
Is it really in a city’s economic interest to cater to the lifestyle concerns of the creative class? Kotkin and Siegel argue that many cities go down the wrong path when they seek to fashion communities that are attractive to "hip" younger workers. Instead, Kotkin and Siegel urge cities to devote their resources to providing high-quality basic municipal services and a safe, secure environment. Such an investment makes a city attractive to both residents and businesses.
12. Studies: Gentrification a Boost for Everyone, Rick Hampson, USA Today, April 19, 2005
Gentrification is often attacked for uprooting the poor. Yet, the work of urban planning professor Lance Freeman shows that neighborhood upgrading can actually bring benefits to the poor and to racial minorities who continue to reside in areas undergoing gentrification. Critics question the degree to which the poor share in the benefits brought by an area’s gentrification.
Unit 3: Competitive Pressures and Economic Development
13. Throwaway Stadium, Charles Mahtesian, Governing, January 2000
Does a city get a good return on its investment when it helps to pay for the construction of a new stadium or sports arena? Not necessarily, especially if the newly built stadium is soon judged as antiquated by a team owner, who then demands that the public help subsidize an even newer facility with a larger number of skyboxes and luxury suites.
14. Skybox Skeptics, Josh Goodman, Governing, March 2006
Sports franchisers, hotel owners, and other members of a city’s growth coalition continue to press for municipal construction of new sports stadiums. The growth coalition argues that such projects can be a key to an area’s rebirth. But critics argue that such investments seldom yield the economic benefits that were promised when the prospect of a new stadium was first discussed.
15. "A Lot of Hooey": Heywood Sanders on Convention Center Economics, Neil deMause, Field of Schemes, September 7, 2004
Real estate developers, downtown business owners, labor unions, and other members of a city’s growth coalition use the studies of consulting firms in an attempt to convince city officials and the public that a convention center will attract so much new business activity that, in the long run, the center will "pay for itself." Critics argue that the studies, prepared by the hired guns of the growth coalition, are often poorly done and overly optimistic in their projections, especially as there are too few "good conventions" for most cities to be able to run convention centers without extensive public subsidies.
16. Eminent Domain Revisited, Mark Berkey-Gerard, Gotham Gazette, December 12, 2005
Under the power of eminent domain, governments have the power to take private property for a "public purpose," paying fair compensation to a property owner. But can government take one person’s property in order to give it to a different private owner; a developer who promises to bring new jobs to a city? The U.S. Supreme Court, in its Kelo decision, declared that such a taking of property was indeed constitutional, and that economic development was a legitimate public purpose of local government. Since the Court’s decision, however, the overwhelming majority of the states have used their own constitutional authority to impose new restrictions to limit the ability of local governments to take property via eminent domain powers.
Unit 4: Citizen Participation
17. Jane Jacobs’ Radical Legacy, Peter Dreier, Shelterforce, Summer 2006
Jane Jacobs was that rare individual who changed the shape of cities. Starting in New York in the 1950s and continuing over the decades in her adopted Toronto, she fought for historic preservation and the protection of neighborhoods. She led protests against the urban bulldozer, the urban renewal and urban highway projects that tore out the heart of vital city neighborhoods in order to build a city geared to the automobiles and to the interests of a city’s growth coalition and suburban commuters. Jacobs argued that the fragile bonds (or social capital) inherent in neighborhood life were the keys to livable cities. She argued for policies that preserved low-rise, walkable communities where residents get to know one another. Jacobs fought against top-down planning, that too seldom reflected the residents’ point of view. She sought participatory processes in which the people directly affected by urban planning decisions have a major voice in the making of those decisions.
18. Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle Way, Carmen Sirianni, National Civic Review, Fall 2005
Seattle is a city with a notable commitment to neighborhood power and participatory democracy. But what are the keys to neighborhood participation? What steps does Seattle take to ensure that participatory processes work?
19. New Life in Newark, Alan Ehrenhalt, Governing, July 2007
How can troubled communities attract new investment and stem their continued decline? One bit of good news has been provided by the work of Community Development Corporations (CDCs), neighborhood organizations that serve as bridge builders, working to get government agencies and private and nonprofit institutions to form partnerships and share in the investment critical to the undertaking of housing rehabilitation and jobs project. As seen in Newark, these community organizations are often church-related or faith-based.
Unit 5: School Choice and School Reform
20. The Performance of Charter Schools in Wisconsin, John Witte et al., La Follette Policy Report, University of Wisconsin, Spring/Summer 2007
School choice programs offer parents and students an alternative to the traditional public schools. But do choice programs achieve the educational gains that they widely promise? John Witte examines the evidence on the educational impacts of Wisconsin’s charter schools.
21. Charter Schools, Gail Robinson, Gotham Gazette, November 14, 2005
New York and other cities have continued to build on the popularity of charter schools. Advocates argue that the creation of innovative and student-oriented charter schools will also lead to a new sense of competition that will spur more conventional city schools to shake up their usual ways of doing thing. Yet, critics worry about the impact of charter schools on equity, especially as the continued growth of charter academies may pose a drain on the resources available for educating students left behind in conventional public schools.
22. D.C. School Reform in Question after Mayor Fenty’s Loss, Julianne Hing, ColorLines: New for Action, September 16, 2010
A number of states and cities have turned to mayoral control of public schools, hoping that the mayor can battle vested interests and force major changes in the operations of failing public schools. But as the experience of Washington, D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty and his appointed schools’ chancellor Michelle Rhee attests, a mayor or administrator who pursues school reform may make powerful enemies. School reformers require political skill and caution when attempting to restructure school operations.
23. With More Choice Has Come Resegregation, Leslie Fulbright and Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, May 29, 2006
Public school officials committed to racial integration face a difficult balancing act; they must juggle pro-racial integration policies with parental demands for neighborhood schools, the ability of families to flee to the suburbs, and recent court decisions that limit the use of race as a factor in school assignments.
24. Here Comes the Neighborhood, Damien Jackson, In These Times, December 20, 2002
Charlotte, North Carolina was once a national symbol in the fight for school integration. More recent years, however, have seen trends toward the resegregation of schools in Charlotte and other metropolitan areas. U.S. Supreme Court decisions (most notably the Millikin v. Bradley decision which virtually brought city-suburban school busing plans to a halt) have limited the ability of cities to desegregate public schools. African-American parents have turned their attention to the condition of inner-city schools, having come to accept the continuing reality of school segregation.
25. Schools Seek New Diversity Answers after Court Rejects Race as Tiebreaker, Jessica Blanchard and Christine Frey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 29, 2007
Americans have little tolerance for school busing and other mandatory school desegregation efforts. Except where court decisions order otherwise, local attempts to force school integration have largely come to an end. In their place, school districts have created magnet schools and other programs that would lead parents to voluntarily send their children to racially integrated schools. But a divided Supreme Court has ruled that a child’s race cannot be a major factor when deciding school assignments. The decision imposes severe limits on the ability of local districts to take race into account when using magnet schools as a means of promoting better racial balance. Local school districts, however, still possess a few pro-integration strategies that may survive court scrutiny.
26. The UCLA Civil Rights Project State of Segregation: Fact Sheet, 2007, The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, 2007
The evidence points to a decline of racial integration in public classrooms. White students, as well as African-Americans and Latinos, attend schools with little diversity and have little ability to interact with peers from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
27. Joint Statement of Nine University-Based Civil Rights Centers on Today’s Supreme Court Rulings on Voluntary School Desegregation: McFarland v. Jefferson County Public Schools & Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, June 28, 2007
Civil rights organizations discuss the likely impact of the Supreme Court ruling that narrowed the ability of local school systems to use race as a factor in a student’s school assignment. The Court’s decision will limit the ability of local schools districts to structure magnet school programs and other voluntary tools to promote racial balance and diversity in school classrooms. The civil rights organizations discuss what they see as a continued retreat from the Court’s celebrated 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that struck down "separate but equal" school systems.
Unit 6: Policing and Crime
28. Broken Windows, James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, The Atlantic, March 1982
How can a city build respect for law and order in order to reduce crime? James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, in their strategy of broken-windows policing, argue that the small things count. Where the police give proper emphasis to order maintenance, where even such small things as graffiti and turnstile jumping in the subway are not tolerated, the expectation for orderly conduct is clearly set.
29. How an Idea Drew People Back to Urban Life, James Q. Wilson, The New York Sun, April 16, 2002
Wilson argues that the broken-windows approach to policing, as practiced by New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his police chief Robert Kelly, led to a noteworthy drop in the city’s crime rate. The new atmosphere of public order helped contribute to the city’s economic revival.
30. 200 Cops to be Reassigned from Community Policing, Fran Spielman and Frank Main, Chicago Sun-Times, September 16, 2010
Community policing is a popular reform that seeks to increase a neighborhood’s voice in police operations. Local residents can draw the attention of the police to local problems. Beat meetings draw on the engagement of citizens and business owners, establishing a community-police partnership essential for effective crime prevention and control. Old-guard officers, however, were reluctant to allow nonexpert citizens a voice in setting police priorities. In Chicago, a city once noted as being a national leader in community policing, community policing has been cut back amid budgetary pressures.
Unit 7: A Suburban Nation: Suburban Growth, Diversity, and the Possibilities of "New Urbanism" and "New Regionalism"
31. The Six Suburban Eras of the United States, Robert Lang, Jennifer LeFurgy, and Arthur C. Nelson, Opolis: An International Journal of Suburban and Metropolitan Studies, 2006
The suburbs of the contemporary New Metropolis, with their diversity of population and their concentration of offices and retail activities in edge cities, are far different from the streetcar suburbs and bedroom communities of earlier eras. Suburbia is not a homogeneous entity of affluent bedroom communities. Instead, suburbia is a quite varied or diverse landscape, with growing concentrations of immigrants and pockets of poverty. Older, declining first-generation suburbs differ quite markedly from the more prosperous favored quarter communities of the modern metropolis.
32. Patio Man and the Sprawl People: America’s Newest Suburbs, David Brooks, The Weekly Standard, August 12/August 19, 2002
Many suburbanites, especially in the sprinkler cities of the Southwest, find refuge in their homes and backyards and resist government intervention. Their attitudes stand in sharp contrast to the practitioners of New Urbanism and those suburbanites who seek to rediscover the value of community in the suburbs.
33. Affluent, but Needy (First Suburbs), Bruce Katz and Robert Puentes, Newsday, February 12, 2006
Suburbia is neither homogeneous nor uniformly affluent. Many of the nation’s first suburbs—older suburbs adjacent to central cities—are exhibiting new signs of weakness—including a deteriorating infrastructure, a glut of housing vacancies, a rise in joblessness due to plant shutdowns, and a shrinking tax base—and would benefit from the help of supportive government policies. Katz explores the potential for coalition building among first suburbs and central cities in need.
34. Principles of New Urbanism, New Urbanism, 2008
Can we build better suburban communities? The New Urbanism movement seeks the development of compact communities characterized by walkability, greenspace protection, active town centers, varied architecture, reduced reliance on the automobile and ecological sustainability. The practitioners of New Urbanism seek to rediscover the sense of community that once characterized small-town and suburban life in America. But do most Americans really want to live in such communities?
35. The New Urbanism: A Limited Revolution, Myron A. Levine, in Redefining Suburban Studies: Searching for New Paradigms, ed. Daniel Rubey (Hempstead, NY: National Center for Suburban Studies, 2009)
New Urbanism builds more sustainable and more aesthetically pleasing alternatives to conventional suburbs. But New Urbanism also faces quite severe limits. Despite its popularity in planning circles, New Urbanism is likely to have only a most limited impact on suburban development. The New Urbanism can do little to change a suburban environment that has already been built. In a free society, New Urbanists cannot control the housing choices of most Americans or the continuing sprawled development that takes place outside the border of planned New Urbanism communities.
36. HOPE VI and the New Urbanism: Eliminating Low-Income Housing to Make Mixed-Income Communities, Janet L. Smith, Progressive Planning, Vol. 152, Spring 2002
Planners have also applied the principles of New Urbanism in an effort to construct more livable central-city environments. The HOPE VI program helped to tear down the nation’s most distressed high-rise public housing projects, replacing them with more habitable, mixed-income, aesthetically pleasing, low-rise communities. But do all the residents of a neighborhood view the transformation as desirable? Tenant organizations in Chicago were skeptical of the demolition of high-rise public housing, and proposal to build low-rise housing developments, guided by New Urbanism design principles, in their place.
37. Regional Coalition-Building and the Inner Suburbs, Myron Orfield, Shelterforce, January/February 1998
Can cities and suburbs cooperate to solve problems? Advocates of the new regionalism argue that it is not necessary to build a new metropolitan-wide governing body in a region, a reform effort that is almost always a political impossibility. Myron Orfield observes that the fissure that divides a central city from its suburbs is often exaggerated. A region’s core city, declining suburbs, and overburdened working-class communities all suffer when growth and investment are concentrated in the favored quarter of a region’s more privileged communities. Orfield suggests that core cities, struggling inner-ring and working-class suburbs, and even faith-based and philanthropic organizations form a coalition to press for programs of mutual benefit.
38. Is Regional Government the Answer?, Fred Siegel, The Public Interest, Fall 1999
Siegel criticizes much of the new regionalist agenda. Most Americans prefer suburban living and do not wish to live in overly dense communities. Siegel warns against heavy-handed efforts to introduce regional consolidation and cooperation. Siegel notes the importance of preserving open space but criticizes the ill effects that often accompany such growth control efforts as urban greenbelts and the much-celebrated Portland urban growth boundary. Siegel sees opportunities to build city-suburban cooperation, especially in the joint pursuit of economic development. But he also values individual choice and local autonomy and hence sees sprawl as "part and parcel of healthy growth."
Unit 8: Toward Sustainable Cities and Suburbs?
39. Firebugs: Build It in California’s Foothills, and It Will Burn, Mike Davis, Sierra Magazine, March/April 1994
Urban wildfires are a major problem, especially in California and the West. Mike Davis argues that the extensive destruction caused by wildfires is the result of a market-oriented attitude that allows developers and buyers to place homes in what are essentially fire zones. Davis argues against the continuance of programs that help support such ecologically unwise and unsustainable patterns of development.
40. New German Community Models Car-Free Living, Isabelle de Pommereau, The Christian Science Monitor, December 20, 2006
Can urban development be pursued in a less automobile-reliant manner? An example from Freiburg, Germany, shows that an alternative approach that is more consistent with environmental values is possible. But are Americans willing to accept car-free living?
41. Traffic: Why It’s Getting Worse, What Government Can Do, Anthony Downs, Brookings Institution Policy Brief, 128, January 2004
Economist Anthony Downs explains why there is no easy answer to the problem of traffic congestion, why measures aimed at reducing traffic congestion and gridlock and shortening commute times wind up providing only temporary relief at best. Downs suggests some pragmatic steps—including ramp-metering, the creation of HOV lanes, and clustering development around mass transit stations—as Americans learn to live with the never-ending problem of urban traffic.
42. Is Congestion Pricing Ready for Prime Time?, Michael A. Replogle, Planning, May 2008
Congestion pricing seeks to reduce traffic congestion in cities by imposing a steep fee every time a vehicle enters a downtown or core-city district. London and Stockholm are among the cities that have had good results with the use of congestion pricing, despite the charges leveled against the system by its critics. Mayor Michael Bloomberg sought to enact a similar system in New York City, but failed to win permission from the state legislature to do so.
Unit 9: The Future of Cities and Suburbs: The United States and the World
43. Japan’s Cities Amid Globalization, Myron A. Levine, original manuscript for Annual Editions: Urban Society, 2008
Tokyo is generally recognized as one of the world’s "top 3" global cities. But even Tokyo has had to take proactive measures in the face of rival Pacific office centers. Japan has sought to strengthen Tokyo as its national champion in the competition for new office development, with traditional neighborhoods being demolished to make way for new megaprojects designed to accommodate global corporations and their high-end workforces. In Kyoto and other cities in Japan, local leaders have initiated growth projects that have altered the traditional character of Japanese urban development.