This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Urban History Association. Born in Cincinnati amidst the systematic disinvestment in the nation’s cities and the “greed is good” coda of Wall Street, the UHA could have become a dour professional organization hosting the occasional pedantic and scolding conference–after all, one could argue the nation has mistreated its cities for decades (if not from its founding). Yet, as someone who has been attending since 2010, the UHA conference is anything but intemperate, boring, or insufferable. It’s incredibly suffrable, in fact. I’d argue it’s eminently enjoyable.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a passionate affair. People have plenty to say, none of it boilerplate. Sure, on occasion as a profession we can be a bit “jargony.” When the conference was in Las Vegas, I tried to lay a prop bet on the over/under for the number of times the phrase “built environment” would be used. Needless to say, the first problem came when the casino asked me what I meant by “built environment” at which I point, looking around I, arms akimbo, said, “you know … the built environment.” Understandably, all bets were off. The larger point is the UHA always delivers impassioned, informed, and insightful discussions about the world’s cities and suburbs. Here’s a link to the program for the UHA’s 9th Biennial Conference: Cities at the Crossroads. You’ll find vastly more detail about registration, tours, and of course, the main event, the panels.
For all you social media types, the organization will be using the hashtag #UHA2018. In the words of Pusha T, “If you know, you know.” Please do tweet from, about, and at the conference with this hashtag. Don’t let an inability to attend stop you from entering the fray; we welcome comments from our urban diaspora as well as the proverbial peanut gallery (I’m looking at you Dinesh D’Souza). The Alumni Center at the conference will dedicate two screens to broadcasting #UHA2018 which will enable everyone in proximity to watch the hashtag in real time. In other words, in addition to your innumerable twitter followers, your tweets will have an analog audience. In all seriousness, we want to foster debate and an exchange of ideas in Columbia and in the internet ether. The cloud envelops us, let’s envelop it.
If you are attending, we’ve listed the social events and their locations below. Also if you haven’t had a chance to dig into the history of Columbia S.C., why not check out our January Metro of the Month, Columbia. Jessica Elfenbein (University of South Carolina) and Robin Waites put together a murder’s row of contributors: Sid Bedingfield, Lydia Brandt, Thomas Brown, Jill Found, Robert Greene, and John Sherrer. The posts touch on issues from the past and present including an overview of Columbia’s history, the “problem of Confederate Memorials,” a history of Jack, an enslaved person at South Carolina College, a short history of the Congaree National Park, an accounting of the critical role played by the Black press in Columbia, and the rise of the city’s mid-century modern architecture. We’ve provided links to each of their pieces below as well. We hope to see all of you there in person, and if you can’t bring your corporeal body to Columbia, your twitter persona will do. Welcome to #UHA2018 everyone!
John Sherrer: Capital on the Congaree: A Bibliography for Columbia, S.C.
Robert Greene: Congaree National Park: Gateway to a Historical Legacy
Thomas J. Brown: The Problem of Confederate Memorials
Lydia Mattice Brandt: The City Bureaucracy Built: Columbia’s Mid-Century Moment
UHA Social Events
Thursday, October 18:
5:00-7:00 PM – OPENING RECEPTION. University of South Carolina President’s House (on the University of South Carolina Horseshoe).
Friday, October 19:
6:15-7:15 AM – RUNNING TOUR: “Historic Columbia.” Departs from in front of the Hilton Columbia Center; no pre-registration required.
5:15-6:45 PM – RECEPTION. Hunter-Gatherer Brewery at the Curtiss-Wright Hangar (1402 Jim Hamilton Boulevard). Free buses will depart from in front of the Hilton Columbia Center to the Reception and Gala Banquet beginning at 5:00 pm.
7:00-9:00 PM – GALA BANQUET, AWARDS, AND PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS. City Roots (1005 Airport Blvd., across the street from the Hunter-Gatherer Brewery). Free buses will depart from in front of the Hilton Columbia Center to the Reception and Gala Banquet beginning at 5:00 pm.
Saturday, October 20: 6:00-7:00 PM – RECEPTION. Richland Library (1431 Assembly Street).
Featured image (at top): Gateway to the mansion known as the “Robert Mills House” in Columbia, the capital city of South Carolina, photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, May 7, 2017, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress