How did neighborhood groceries, parish halls, factories, and even saloons contribute more to urban vitality than did the fiscal might of postwar urban renewal?
Douglas W. Rae
With a novelist's eye for telling detail, Douglas Rae depicts the features that contributed most to city life in the early "urbanist" decades of the twentieth century. Rae's subject is New Haven, Connecticut, but the lessons he draws apply to many American cities.
City: Urbanism and Its End (Yale University Press, 2003) begins with a richly textured portrait of New Haven in the early twentieth century, a period of centralized manufacturing, civic vitality, and mixed-use neighborhoods. As social and economic conditions changed, the city confronted its end of urbanism first during the Depression, and then very aggressively during the mayoral reign of Richard C. Lee (1954-70), when New Haven led the nation in urban renewal spending. But government spending has repeatedly failed to restore urban vitality. Rae argues that strategies for the urban future should focus on nurturing the unplanned civic engagements that make mixed-use city life so appealing and so civilized. Cities need not reach their old peaks of population, or look like thriving suburbs, to be once again splendid places for human beings to live and work.
"Rae makes a major contribution with this book. I know of no other work that weaves so much detail with so much sophistication about what the detail means. I plan to recommend this book to everyone interested in cities that I know."--Gerald E. Frug, Harvard Law School and author of City Making: Building Communities without Building Walls
Douglas W. Rae is Richard Ely Professor of Management and professor of political science at Yale University. In 1990-91 he served as chief administrative officer of the city of New Haven under John Daniels, the city's first African-American mayor. Currently, he teaches politics to MBA students at the Yale School of Management, and urban studies in Yale College.