Cityscape Number 2, September 19, 2019

Cityscape is The Metropole’s monthly shortcut to recent, forthcoming, or overlooked writing, exhibits and film.

The City in Print

The City in Arabic Literature: Classical and Modern Perspectives, edited by Nizar F. Hermes and Gretchen Head. Edinburgh University Press, 2018.

Sixteen essays on Arabic poetry and prose which invite a literary exploration of Mosul, Cairo, Cordoba, Marrakech, Baghdad, and other fabled cities, ancient and modern.

15963Iconic Planned Communities and the Challenge of Change, edited by Mary Corbin Sies, Isabelle Gournay, and Robert Freestone. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019.

Essays which consider how the following planned communities have stood the test of time: Bat’ovany-Partizánske, Cité Frugès, Colonel Light Gardens, Den-en Chôfu, Garbatella, Greenbelt, Hampstead Garden Suburb, Jardim América, Letchworth Garden City, Menteng, New Lanark, Pacaembú, Radburn, Riverside, Römerstadt, Sabaudia, Seaside, Soweto, Sunnyside Gardens, Tapiola, The Uplands, Welwyn Garden City, Wythenshawe.

Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White, by William Sturke. Harvard University Press, 2019.

How Jim Crow shaped the lives of black and white residents of Hattiesburg, Mississippi and the ways in which residents—as distinct from national civil rights activists—worked to overthrow segregation.

walton-e28093-singapore-singapura-rgb-webSingapore, Singapura: From Miracle to Complacency, by Nicholas Walton. Oxford University Press, 2019

What are the costs and benefits of living in a city-state which is both the quintessential capitalist powerhouse and an authoritarian welfare state?

The City on the Web

 It Was Never About Busing: Court-ordered Desegregation Worked. But White Racism Made It Hard to Accept

 By Nikole Hannah-Jones

 A New York Times editorial writer argues that court-ordered busing significantly improved black (and white) achievement levels, but in the end the white demand for neighborhood schools forced a return to low-achieving segregated schools.  

Did Busing for School Desegregation Succeed?  Here’s What Research Says

 By Matt Barnum

Barnum affirms that busing improved the achievement of black students but he also notes that it significantly reduced employment opportunities for black teachers. See also Walter C. Stern’s The Metropole review of Ansley T. Erickson, Making The Unequal Metropolis: School Desegregation and Its Limits.

Celluloid City

This month: film documentaries on distinguished street photographers.

Finding Vivian Maier, Directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel (2013)

Who was the brilliant, reclusive Chicago nanny who in the fifties and sixties took tens of thousand photos documenting the street life of Chicago and New York? Academy Award Nominee Best Documentary (2014).

The Last Resort, Directed by Dennis Scholl and Kareem Tabsch (2018)

Andy Sweet and Gary Monroe photograph Jewish retirees against the backdrop of post-war Miami Beach, ascendant and then in decline.

Garry Winograd: All Things Are Photographable, Directed by Sasha Waters Freyer (2018)

From the working class Bronx comes Winograd, an obsessive photographer of New York and  LA street scenes.


The Red Vienna, 1919-1934 [Das Rote Wien]

The Wien Museum MUSA, Vienna

April 30, 2019-January 19, 2020

How Vienna, a desperate city after World War I, adopted a series of extraordinary programs to advance social and economic equality.

Big Plans: Picturing Social Reform

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

June 20- September 15, 2019

In bringing together the maps and plans of Frederick Law Olmsted and Charles Eliot with the photos of Lewis Hine, the Gardner Museum shows the important role that landscape architects played in shaping urban progressivism.


Zoned American, by Seymour I. Toll. Grossman Publishers, 1969.

In 1916 progressives joined super rich Fifth Avenue residents to win adoption of a citywide zoning ordinance. Attorney Seymour Toll’s lucid and readable account of how that came about also includes an astute analysis of Euclid v. Ambler (1926), the Supreme Court decision which upheld the constitutionality of zoning nationwide. Published a half century ago, Toll remains essential reading for understanding the legal underpinnings of zoning, which continues to shape city and suburban growth and which, to an important degree, sustains racially segregated housing.

Do not overlook a worthy sequel. In Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land-Use Regulation (Cornell, 2014), author Sonia A. Hirt puts American zoning into global perspective by raising a fundamental question: “ How could Americans …independent and freedom loving and respecting private property put up with such tedious laws governing the building of their everyday environments and way of life?”

What’s your take on Cityscape?

What are you reading, viewing or looking forward to? Do you want to write a review? Let us hear from you.

Jim Wunsch, Bob Carey, Eric M. Rhodes, and Jacob Bruggeman

Featured image: Carol M. Highsmith, “Neon sign, Colony Hotel, South Beach, Florida.” Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

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