A reminder about and update regarding the UHA meet up at the AHA in Chicago this January!

“The best laid plans …” as the saying goes.  As you hopefully remember, behind the leadership of Becky Nicolaides and Carol McKibben and in association with the UHA, this year’s AHA will feature an urban history “meet up” on Saturday, January 5, 2019.  However as it so happens the initial event time coincided with a retrospective panel on Arnold Hirsch. If the UHA conference in October was any indicator, the panel will enjoy a deservedly very large audience. Wanting neither low attendance at the meet up nor to draw attention away from the late, great Professor Hirsch the UHA event has been rescheduled for 8:30 am – 10 am on the same day, same location and so forth. Network with your fellow urbanists then make your way to what promises to be an eye opening discussion of Hirsch’s work.  We’ve included the original write up by the eminent  Nicolaides below with all the updated information regarding the event further down. Hope to see you there!

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Chicago Bulls basketball game at the United Center, Chicago, Illinois, Carol M. Highsmith, after 1994, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

The annual American Historical Association (AHA) conference is a big, rich space for historians but can be a little overwhelming, especially for newcomers.  This year at the AHA, we are trying something new:  informal “meet ups” to help people with shared interests find each other at the conference.  I’m happy to be co-hosting a meet-up for urban historians at the upcoming AHA conference in Chicago, welcoming in folks working on all urban/suburban/metro geographies, time periods, themes, you name it. It will be informal, no agenda, just a chance to find old and new friends in the field and share what you’ve been up to, over coffee and croissants. I’ll be there along with Carol McKibben to welcome you. We are grateful to the UHA for generously underwriting the costs of refreshments.  Drop by if you can, bring your business cards, and hope to see you there!

When: Saturday January 5, 8:30 – 10am 

Where Salon 8, Palmer House, Chicago, IL

Co-hosts:

Becky Nicolaides, Councilor, Research Division, AHA Council, and Research Affiliate, USC and UCLA
Carol McKibben, Lecturer, Stanford University

Hosted jointly with the Urban History Association

Featured image (at top): Night view of Chicago Federal Center, Chicago, Illinois, Carol M. Highsmith, July 27, 2017, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress 

Reflections on Disciplining the City

By Matt Guariglia 

This year the New York City Police Department announced that it would be integrating a new fleet of drones into its policing procedure for large events. In 2018, the NYPD also announced that it was experimenting with a lasso that would subdue citizens during mental health crises. Even as policing becomes more technologically advanced (see: predictive policing) it also serves us constant reminders that it is an institution temporally trapped. As often as they go to cutting edge technologies to mitigate problems, they also draw upon the well of history—even if that means redeploying tactics that would have looked familiar a century and a half ago. This is why, 2018 was a year in which studying the history of policing, crime, and incarceration was more pivotal than ever.

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Armed policeman holding newspaper “Muhammad Speaks,” taken from the trunk of a car following shootout near a Black Muslim mosque in Los Angeles, 1965, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

All year the increasingly frequent overlapping worlds of public scholarship and academic publishing have been rife with important work to help us contextualize both this change over time and the continuity in the history criminal justice and state power. University of North Carolina Press’s intrepid “Justice, Power, and Politics” series edited by Heather Ann Thompson and Rhonda Y. Williams has published incredible works including Max Felker-Kantor’s Policing Los Angeles: Race, Resistance and the Rise of the LAPD, Tera Eva Agyepong’s The Criminalization of Black Children: Race, Gender, and Delinquency in Chicago’s Juvenile Justice System, 1899-1945, and Adam Malka’s The Men of Mobtown: Policing Baltimore in the Age of Slavery and Emancipation, which helps historians fill in that pivotal moment as the state and its deputized mobs transitioned from attempting to subordinate enslaved individuals to attempting to exert control over free citizens. Similarly, Monica Muñoz Martinez’s 2018 book The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas from Harvard University Press provides an analysis of how state and non-state violence on the U.S.-Mexican border was interwoven. The findings of this book, including its essential chronicling of the Texas Rangers, should now be at the center all of historians’ analysis of state violence, police power, and U.S. imperialism.

51ofMqWFZmL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Other books that came out this year also open up new directions for how historians in the future can better understand police, not as faceless agents of the state, but as people and laborers with their own ideologies. Timothy Lombardo’s Blue-Collar Conservatism: Frank Rizzo’s Philadelphia and Populist Politics from University of Pennsylvania Press provides historians and readers with an understanding of law and order politics from the ground up as it chronicles Philadelphia police commissioner and mayor Frank Rizzo’s rise to power by playing on the politics of race, place, and blue-collar white ethnicity. As the news media becomes increasingly aware of how prevalent extreme ring-wing and white supremacist ideologies are within the ranks of police and the military in the United States, Kathleen Belew’s earth shattering new book Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America from Harvard University Press, is increasingly essential. It should now be an expectation that all scholars of state institutions like the military and police departments look at the types of networks and ideologies that can form within those infrastructures.

In addition to each of these authors making a number of media appearances to discuss their books and expertise, good scholarly analysis of policing and incarceration have also been prevalent in forums like the Washington Post’s “Made By History,” including Dan Berger’s article on the Florida prison strike or Susan Pearson’s article connecting state management of birth certificates with Jim Crow and racial state building . The Boston Review’s most recent issue “Evil Empire: A Reckoning With Power” also features a number of historians of racial state building, empire, and state violence including Marisol LeBrón, Nikhil Pal Singh, and Stuart Schrader. This very blog, The Metropole and its “Disciplining the City” series ran a number of incredibly interesting and useful pieces this year, including Carolyn Levy’s article on policing a gendered morality in 19th century San Francisco.

2019 will be a bigger year for scholars and students hoping to enrich the growing field of carceral studies. In the upcoming year, the field will continue to grow as scholars expand what we consider the boundaries of the carceral state. Historians of politics, surveillance, immigration restrictions, the policing of gender and sexuality, the relationship between the state and segregation, all have an opportunity to contribute to our understanding of the development of carceral logic. In the current climate where people divulge an overwhelming amount of personal data—from taste in shoes to DNA—to profit-seeking corporations known to cooperate with the police, it is essential that historians of prisons and policing understand surveillance and knowledge production about subjects as central to the carceral project. Books like Sarah Igo’s The Known Citizen: A History of Privacy in Modern America and 2017’s Creditworthy: A History of Consumer Surveillance and Financial Identity in America by Josh Lauer, and Simone Brown’s 2015 book Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness are as requisite reading for scholars grappling with how the state learned how to build a its current system and who to inhabit it with.

Across the country, scholars interested in the carceral state spoke to politicians, law schools, and served as experts and consultants on questions of criminal justice and prison reform. Scholars also used their positions in and out of universities to contribute to invaluable prison education programs and to bring attention to the indignities of modern incarceration. Around the country scholars have also lead symposia, conferences, workshops, with students, the public, and incarcerated people to discuss the meaning and history of the carceral state and how it effects the lives of so many. The Urban History Association, the purveyors of this blog, hosted close to ten panels at its 2018 conference in Columbia, South Carolina that touched on issues of incarceration, crime, and policing.

As the field of imprisonment and policing history becomes larger in the coming years, my hope is that the scope of that field will stay wide and inclusive. More scholars and more scholarship means we can all continue to grapple with how diffuse the power of the state and its deputized civilians and corporations can be. As many scholars have shown, policing and incarceration directed at vulnerable people on the edges of society inform what happens at the center, and how policing looks in the center informs the type of policing used at the edges. Historians, however, have never been better equipped to excavate, to quote Kelly Lytle Hernández, “incarceration—and the patterns it harbors.”

Featured image (at top): Composite photograph group of the Chiefs of Police, New York City, 1889, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Matthew Guariglia is the editor of The Metropole’s Disciplining the City series and a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at the University of Connecticut. His most recent work exploring Donald Trump’s use of MS-13 in rhetorical fear mongering appeared in the Washington Post in April. 

New Years Resolutions inspired by recent Members of the Week

By Avigail Oren

My best teacher this past year was the collective wisdom of the The Metropole’s many contributors. We will end 2018 with over 130 posts, totaling over 200,000 words—all of which I read, sometimes multiple times! While I learned a ton of history from our Metropolis of the Month posts, book reviews, Disciplining the City series, and Graduate Student Blogging Contest submissions, I learned just as much about how to live the good (historian) life from our Members of the Week.

In 2018 we featured 33 UHA members ranging from 2-year MA students to Senior Archivists. We ran two themed series of posts, the first featuring UHA conference committee chairs and the second featuring incoming board members. Also for the first time, we awarded a Member of the Week post to the winner of the #UHA2018 Dope Orange Sweater Twitter Award (DOSTA) bestowed on the attendee with the best conference-related twitter feed. Each interview yielded some insight or advice about research, teaching, careers, and how we as historians should engage with the world.

As I was looking over the most recent Member of the Week posts—those since #UHA2018—I picked out five bits of wisdom from the interviews that I thought would make great New Years Resolutions for historians.

Resolution 1: Cast wider nets

Although Emily Callaci was specifically referring to sources when she advised historians to “cast a wide net when it comes to thinking about what constitutes an archive,” there are many ways in which scholars can and should take a more expansive approach to their work. Indeed, a common theme in Member of the Week posts is the celebration of urban history as a multidisciplinary field. Many UHA members also write for, conference with, and teach other sub-disciplines that are distinct from (but adjacent to) urban studies.

And yet we can always find new ways to push boundaries, whether it’s poking at preconceptions, widening our geographic or temporal focus, examining new sources, or simply working to be inclusive of new colleagues or audiences. Let us all personally vow to take a step outside our comfort zone in 2019.

Resolution 2: Experiment with form

Certain formulas persist in writing and teaching history because they are tried-and-true methods of communicating complicated ideas. Other formulas persist for structural reasons—they’re easy for overworked scholars and teachers to execute. But Kevin Kruse’s Twitter offensive against Dinesh D’Souza, and Deborah Harkness’s best selling Discovery of Witches trilogy, and the explosion of history podcasts demonstrate that there’s a robust public appetite for history should we be willing to experiment with form.

Extending this into the classroom, Dorothee Brantz wrote that she is “playing with a new idea: rather than working with a set syllabus, [her next Masters seminar] will start with “What is a City?” from Deyan Sudjic’s, The Language of Cities and based on it, each student will identify topics of interest that they will independently pursue in research groups and then present to the rest of the class.” Whether taking on a student-guided approach, flipping a classroom, launching a YouTube channel, or writing a history book on Instagram, we can use 2019 as an opportunity to connect with new audiences while also deepening our connection to old ones.

Resolution 3: Infuse all work with scholarly knowledge

For the sizable continent of urbanists and historians who work partially or completely outside of the academy, it’s likely that many sympathize with the conundrum that Patrice Green articulated in her Member of the Week post: “Marrying my research and scholarly interests to the actual work I do has been a challenge.” While there are tasks that will never lend themselves towards critical inquiry—reconciling receipts with accounts, for example—the overwhelming majority of all work jives with aspects of scholarship. Every networking event demands an analysis of power relations. Most forms of activism and advocacy require an understanding of municipal, regional, and federal politics and policy. Serving a public, be they customers or clients, allows for constant consideration regarding the intersections of race, class, religion, gender, sexuality, and other myriad identities. Of course, none of these are the same as using your content expertise in your work. But at its heart scholarship is about the constant pursuit of new knowledge! So a 2019 resolution can be to reframe this challenge in a positive light, to find ways to apply some expertise to incongruent tasks, or to lean into a new expertise.

Resolution 4: Revisit an influential text

As our to-be-read piles grow and we feel increasingly behind on the current literature, it can be hard to justify devoting time to re-reading a book. But these experiences can be grounding and reinvigorating, as James Wolfinger reminded us when he described Edmund Morgan’s American Slavery as “the work that helped me see the power of history to illuminate the past and better understand the present.” “To me,” Wolfinger wrote, “Morgan analyzed the central issue for understanding the American experience: the vexed relationship between race and class throughout all of American history.” This resolution is simple: make time in 2019 to pick up that book that made you want to be a historian in the first place, inspired your dissertation topic, or that simply blew your mind the first time you read it.

Resolution 5: Fight against structures that marginalize, exploit, and imprison populations.

So many historians are already active, on so many fronts, in struggles for justice. Llana Barber wrote in her Member of the Week post that “Being an urban historian has made me particularly attentive to the fact that dramatic inequality can be created and maintained by restricting human mobility across space, and that force, law, and discourse have long been used in concert to contain marginalized populations.” Such clarity about our historical expertise can be put to good use in 2019, whether through grassroots organizing, expert testimony, education, or acts of protest.

Wishing everyone a happy new year!

 

 

The One-Way Street of Integration: Edward Goetz Responds

By Edward G. Goetz

I want to thank Eric Michael Rhodes for his thoughtful read of my book, The One-Way Street of Integration. The great challenge of writing the book, which Mr. Rhodes seems to have sensed in his remarks at the end of his review, was in articulating a vision for how to use housing policy in the pursuit of racial justice and regional equity without reducing that effort to a series of variations on the single theme of shifting lower-income people of color across the metropolitan landscape. The policy debate, about which Mr. Rhodes makes fair observations, will go on – my book is quite unlikely to resolve that disagreement. His engaging review, however, provides me with the opportunity to elaborate my argument.

First, practical matters: We need to reclaim the notion of “fair housing” from those who reduce it to merely an integration objective. The lack of good, decent, affordable housing in communities of color is also a fair housing issue and one that would be addressed by an aggressive housing improvement initiative across the country. The disproportionate occupancy of substandard housing by people of color is part of that fair housing issue. Perhaps more to the point given the housing trends in major U.S. cities, the forced relocation of lower-income people of color from neighborhoods that have for decades experienced disinvestment and neglect but that are now receiving renewed investment, either through processes of gentrification or large scale public housing redevelopment, is a fair housing issue. And yet fair housing lawyers oppose efforts by local governments and activists to provide preferences to neighborhood residents for affordable housing that might insulate those families from forced displacement. It is a myopic vision of fair housing at best.

Second, we flatter ourselves and slide into paternalism when we act on the idea that we know best about where lower income POC should live. Third, we rob communities of color and their leadership of agency if we do not acknowledge and attempt to facilitate a stay-in-place option. Fourth, we take our eyes off of the real objectives; the enhancement of housing choices for low-income POC, if we pretend to know which is the best choice for them, and when we fashion our policies to incentivize or require that choice. Fifth, we need to refocus on breaking down barriers to choice, including building subsidized housing in exclusive white enclaves.

But beyond practical policy matters, defining the disadvantages faced by people of color in our metropolitan areas solely, or even chiefly in terms of segregation, obscures the deeply embedded racism and the structures of public and private racial subordination that operate in this country. Integrationism imagines that the rearrangement of people in space is a substitute for the hard work of dismantling structural racism. Further, it underappreciates the subtle and not so subtle ways in which it legitimates and ratifies that racism. By positing integration into predominantly white neighborhoods as the means of uplift for lower income people of color we incorporate white racism into our public policy approaches. We define the ideal neighborhood as one that is mostly white. We incorporate and ratify the white racism that would lead to white flight if ‘too many’ people of color entered a community. As Cheryl Harris wrote in 1993, we, in fact, define our goals in ways to avoid disturbing “the settled expectations of whites that their interests – particularly the relative privilege accorded by their whiteness – would not be violated.”

Cheryl I. Harris, 1993. “Whiteness as property.” Harvard Law Review, 106, 8, June.

Edward G. Goetz is Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and the Director of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota. He has served as Associate Dean and as Director of the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning program at the Humphrey School. He specializes in housing and local community development planning and policy. His research focuses on issues of race and poverty and how they affect housing policy planning and implementation.

Bipartisan Brutalism: The Rise and Fall of the Yorkshire Post Building in Leeds

 By Moritz Föllmer

Architectural brutalism is anathema to British conservatives.[1] In 2016, a Tory government minister declared it “aesthetically worthless, simply because it is ugly.” Those who beg to differ, whether they merely fetishize brutalist architecture or recall its social agenda to provide affordable housing, situate themselves on the left. But this has not always been so. In the 1960s, the renewal of city centers commanded support across a wide political spectrum. It was driven both by demands for social housing and pressures for commercial development.[2] To the Tories, generally more hesitant about modernization than Labour, it promised a capitalist future beyond smoking chimneys and densely populated working-class neighborhoods. “I want to see the guts torn out of our older industrial cities,” asserted their coming leader Edward Heath in 1964, “and new civic centers and shopping areas built there, the older houses torn down and new ones in their place.”[3] Offering an allure of progress while allowing for cheap construction, brutalist architecture was the logical expression of this consensus.

One case in point is the joint headquarters of the Yorkshire Post, a long-standing voice of regional and even national conservatism, and the Yorkshire Evening Post, a centrist newspaper focusing on Leeds itself.

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Yorkshire Post Building, autumn 2009. ©Michael Taylor, Wikimedia Commons.

Designed by John Madin, better known for the Central Library and a number of other projects in his native Birmingham, the building was completed in late 1970. It replaced the newspapers’ previous headquarters in a cramped Victorian building on one of Leeds’s major commercial streets, which was in turn demolished to make way for a shopping center. With help of the Labour-dominated City Council, a new site had been found to the west, on the premises of a demolished textile mill. In close proximity, other landmark buildings had recently opened, namely the International Swimming Pool and the Yorkshire Television Studios. The Inner Ring Road, whose third stage was then under construction, promised a direct connection to the motorway and thereby the entire region. Further west lay the working-class areas of Armley and Kirkstall, whose streets with back-to-back housing were increasingly juxtaposed with through roads, carparks, and supermarkets. The Yorkshire Post Building on the fringe of the center was thus an integral part of Leeds’s transformation from an industrial and still recognizably Victorian city to the self-proclaimed “Motorway City of the Seventies.”

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Construction of the Inner Ring Road, with the Yorkshire Post Building visible to the right, 1974. © Leeds Library and Information Service, www.leodis.net.

In an apparent historical irony, none other than the Prince of Wales performed the official opening. The 22-year-old heir to the throne was not yet known as Britain’s foremost critic of architectural modernism, a role he was to assume in the 1980s. In line with the monarchy’s attempts to present a forward-looking face, Charles came across as a man with a keen interest in technology and a humorous manner when chatting to the staff. The chairman of the Yorkshire Post Newspapers Ltd. spoke of a “building for the generation now approaching maturity,” appropriately inaugurated by “one who has already shown himself to be a leader of that generation.”[4]

When the Royal Institute of British Architects awarded the building a bronze medal, it cited both the “dramatic contribution” it made to Leeds’s cityscape and the “extremely successful solution” it provided to the client’s “very complex planning problem.” This complexity stemmed from accommodating the entire enterprise of two distinct newspapers under one roof. Communication flowed seamlessly both within and between the different departments. Internal barriers were abolished, facilitating vertical movement. Copy came in “either from the editorial floor above, or from below, where the classified advertisement is.”[5] With computers performing the typesetting and the “largest hybrid press installation in the world” integrating established and new printing technologies, production was united on the middle floor.

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Advertisement in Yorkshire Post Newspapers New Building Edition, December 9/10, 1970

The newspapers were stacked automatically, whereupon conveyor belts carried the bundles to the trucks for distribution.

Even so, there did not seem to be a contradiction between advanced technology and human employment. Well over a thousand staff members were taking calls, typing up copy, and manning various machines. With more sales than ever, the newspapers could afford numerous journalists. As one veteran recalls, articles were written in two huge newsrooms filled with cigarette smoke, the sound of ringing phones, and a fair amount of adrenaline. Authoritarian editors reigned supreme, calling journalists to their offices for a telling off or a triple gin. The modernity of the print media was thus simultaneously impersonal in outlook and controlled by powerful male personalities. The division between gender roles permeated the entire process of newspaper making. The classified advertisement team, for instance, comprised the “pretty girl [who] will hang on your every word” alongside the “creative ideas man” in a sharp suit and company car.

 

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Advertisement in Yorkshire Post, December 28, 1970.

The self-presentation of the newspapers at their new site thus combined the allure of modernity with a promise of continuity. “The idea was a building of rugged strength,” enthused the company’s managing director, “it was to be symbolic of Yorkshire and of a new age. But it had to blend with the Leeds of the past and with the architecture of those days.” In a promotional film, the conservative Yorkshire Post stressed that massively improved communication and distribution would connect it even more closely with the county’s farmers, gardeners, and cricket players.

The newspapers’ rootedness in tradition, however, limited their ability to come to terms with the changing face of Leeds as a whole. Their endorsement of new buildings and roads went hand in hand with a grim outlook on urban society. Residents appeared to be hampered by strikes and threatened by violent criminals, even before the Yorkshire Ripper rose to sinister prominence. It was barely acknowledged that not all of them were white, notwithstanding the sizeable Asian and Caribbean communities. Far from seeing diversity as an asset, the city was increasingly perceived as fractured, and the specter of urban decline came to the fore. While the Yorkshire Post Building retained its functionality, the cultural foundations of bipartisan brutalism eroded.[6]

It was only in the 1990s and 2000s that a spirit of optimism returned to Leeds, but this benefited neither the print media nor the modernist architectural heritage. Crisis after crisis caused the staff of the two newspapers to shrink.

Meanwhile, older shopping centers as well as the International Swimming Pool were demolished to make way for new commercial and residential buildings. The Yorkshire Post Building’s turn came in 2012, after printing had been outsourced and the remaining journalists had moved to a smaller location. Its fitness for purpose now limited the possibility of reuse. None of the prospective investors was interested in costly preservation. English Heritage refused to list the building, dryly noting that its value lay less in its design, which lacked “coherence,” than in its “original function,” which was now lost for good.

 

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Demolition of the Yorkshire Post Building, spring 2014. ©Moritz Föllmer.

With protest too timid to amount to a campaign, there were only some nostalgic musings about the loss of Leeds’s 1960s heritage. Perhaps the commentator asking what better end there could be “for a truly modernist building than demolition, to make way for the future” hit the nail on the head. The rise and fall of the Yorkshire Post Building attests to a culture of urban capitalism whose knack for radical transformation has been thinly disguised by reassuring narratives of continuity. The next reiteration of this culture on the same site will be a somewhat predictably designed combination of office, residential, and leisure facilities.

StudioHeno 22665-38.jpgMoritz Föllmer is Associate Professor of Modern History at the University of Amsterdam and has widely written on European cities in the twentieth century. Before moving to the Netherlands, he taught at the University of Leeds and lived on the City Island development behind the Yorkshire Post Building.

[1] This established term has nothing to do with brutality but derives from the French béton brut (raw concrete).

[2] See Peter Mandler, “New Towns for Old: The Fate of the Town Center,” in Becky Conegin, Frank Mort, and Chris Waters, eds., Moments of Modernity: Reconstructing Britain, 1945-1964 (London: Rivers Oram, 1998), 208-27.

[3] Quoted in Brian Harrison, Seeking a Role: The United Kingdom, 1951-1970 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 152.

[4] “A Yorkshire Toast to the Prince,” Yorkshire Post, December 11, 1970.

[5]  This and the following quotations, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the Yorkshire Evening Post’s “Yorkshire Post Newspapers New Building Edition,” December 9/10, 1970.

[6] Compare Simon Gunn, “Ring Road: Birmingham and the Collapse of the Motor City Ideal in 1970s Britain,” Historical Journal 61 (2018), 227-48.

 

“Urban History Meet Up” at the AHA

The annual American Historical Association (AHA) conference is a big, rich space for historians but can be a little overwhelming, especially for newcomers.  This year at the AHA, we are trying something new:  informal “meet ups” to help people with shared interests find each other at the conference.  I’m happy to be co-hosting a meet-up for urban historians at the upcoming AHA conference in Chicago, welcoming in folks working on all urban/suburban/metro geographies, time periods, themes, you name it. It will be informal, no agenda, just a chance to find old and new friends in the field and share what you’ve been up to, over coffee and croissants. I’ll be there along with Carol McKibben to welcome you. We are grateful to the UHA for generously underwriting the costs of refreshments.  Drop by if you can, bring your business cards, and hope to see you there!

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Aerial view of Chicago, Illinois. The black skyscraper is Willis Tower, previously known as Sears Tower, a Chicago landmark, Carol M. Highsmith, between 1980 and 2006, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

When: Saturday January 5, 8:30 – 10am 

Where Salon 8, Palmer House, Chicago, IL

Co-hosts:

Becky Nicolaides, Councilor, Research Division, AHA Council, and Research Affiliate, USC and UCLA
Carol McKibben, Lecturer, Stanford University

Hosted jointly with the Urban History Association

Featured image (at top): Marquee of the historic Chicago Theater, which opened in 1921, Chicago, Illinois, Carol M. Highsmith, between 1980 and 2006, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

The Metropole November Round Up

As we close out November with stuffed bellies and eyes toward impending December holidays, The Metropole’s editors would be remiss not to draw attention to one of the blog’s strongest months since its founding in 2017. With a new UHA board, filled with recent arrivals, readying to assume responsibilities in January, we profiled four incoming members: Llana Barber, James Wolfinger, Emily Callaci, and Dorothee Brantz. Get to know your new board!

December 1st also brought to an end to our most prolific Metro of the Month, Baltimore. In November, The Metropole published, counting our usual overview, eight pieces of scholarship on Charm City. We’ve provided a round up of each below. Delve into the history of the iconic Mid-Atlantic metropolis!

Baltimore, Maryland Row Houses
Row houses, Baltimore, Maryland, Carol M. Highsmith, November 1, 2008, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Mobs, Monuments, and Charm: A Baltimore Bibliography: From current 21st century popular culture attentions to the city (The Corner, The Wire, Beach House, Future Islands) to the story of Charm City’s unfortunately very influential residential segregation laws of the early 1910s, our annual overview/bibliography provides a bite sized bite of the larger whole.

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House in Negro section. Baltimore, Maryland, John Vachon, July 1938, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Race in Baltimore:

Longtime resident and Johns Hopkins University political scientist Matt Crenson, author of 2017’s Baltimore: A Political History, reflects on the city’s struggle with race relations. Equal parts academic analysis and memoir, Crenson juxtaposes his lived experience with the historical reality of the city.

harveyjohnson

The Brotherhood of Liberty and Baltimore’s Place in the Black Freedom Struggle:

Virginia Tech historian Dennis Patrick Halpin draws upon his forthcoming work on the city, A Brotherhood of Liberty: Black Reconstruction and its Legacies in Baltimore, 1865-1920, to discusses the history of Baltimore’s first black-led civil rights organization (and one of the first nationally) and the struggles it encountered to deliver the rights of citizenship to Charm City’s African American community.

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Baltimore (Convention Center Construction), Marion S. Trikosko, December 2, 1977, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

The Drug War in Baltimore: The Failure of the “Kingpin” Strategy in Charm City:

Walsh University historian Will Cooley delivers an account of 1970s and 1980s law enforcement drug policies in Baltimore. Unsurprisingly, the “Kingpin” approach failed to fully address the tragedy of the drug trade in the city. Cooley writes deft historical analysis with a journalistic eye in one of The Metropole’s most popular pieces of the last four months.

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Baltimore, Maryland. Thursday night shoppers in a line outside a movie theatre, Marjory Collins, 1943, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress 

When Baltimore Was Hollywood East: Racial Exclusion and Cultural Development in the 1970s:

The world does not have enough cultural history that manages to both provide insight about material culture while also exploring how such cultural productions contribute to larger municipal policy goals, or in this case, failed to. University of Rutgers-Camden historian Mary Rizzo delves into 1970s Charm City to explore how municipal leaders and others hoped to create a new Mid-Atlantic Tinseltown that would also undergird urban renewal efforts.

Tyson Cartoon
From the Baltimore Evening Sun, June 3, 1959.

“Slum Clearance a la Mode”: The Battle for Baltimore’s Tyson Street:

As most urban historians know, highway construction in America’s cities hollowed out metropolitan America particularly for working class African Americans and other minorities who found themselves forcibly removed from their communities. Yet Seattle University historian Emily Lieb, whose forthcoming book examines the West Baltimore neighborhood of Rosemont, explores the question “But what happened when white people were in the way?” Her account captures numerous problematic aspects of “slum clearance” particularly in regard to race and class.

Mural in Baltimore, Maryland
Mural, Baltimore, Maryland, Carol M. Highsmith, September 2008, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Segregated by Design: “Free Choice” and Public Housing in Baltimore:

Rhonda Y. Williams published her groundbreaking work, The Politics of Public Housing: Black Women’s Struggles Against Urban Inequality in 2004. Urban planner Sara Patenaude also saw in the city’s public housing history important historical data points. In this thumbnail summary of her dissertation, Patenaude documents how “choice” in public housing failed to lead to greater opportunity or integration for black residents.

Paul Coates, 1971 (courtesy of Harry)
Paul Coates during his Black Panthers days, 1971, courtesy of Harry

Activist Businesses and Baltimore’s Overlooked History of Social Movements:

When discussing social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, one often envisions collective action and critique of capitalist organization and impulses. But, what about those “activist entrepreneurs” who attempted to meld social justice with business? Drawing upon his recent book, From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs, University of Baltimore historian Josh Clark Davis explores Baltimore’s forgotten social justice enterprises.

We look forward to delivering more content in December!

Featured image: Bohemian Beer special, Hampden neighborhood, Baltimore Maryland, Ryan Reft, 2015.