The Urban History Association/The Metropole Graduate Student Blogging Contest was established to promote blogging among graduate students–as a way to teach beyond the classroom, market their scholarship, and promote the enduring value of the humanities. The theme of the third annual contest was “Life Cycles,” inspired by The Metropole‘s third rotation around the sun. Grad students were invited to submit essays about the birth, death, or aging of institutions, neighborhoods, cities, or suburbs, and we received six (!) excellent submissions that responded to the theme.
The committee was deeply impressed with the analytical sophistication and substantive archival contributions of so many of these pieces, many of which they hope to see in a journal article one day. They were particularly impressed with how some of the pieces also spoke to the reader in a way that blogs in particular do: briefly, accessibly, and engagingly.
We are proud to announce that our winner is Katie Uva, for her piece “Funding The World Of Tomorrow: Public-Private Partnerships And The 1939 World’s Fair.” Uva, a PhD candidate at CUNY Graduate Center, tackled the theme of “Life Cycles” by challenging the birth-date of public-private partnerships, arguing that they are older than previously thought and that such partnerships played a previously unknown but essential role in the birth and delivery of the Queens-based World’s Fair of 1939. As the winner, Uva will receive a prize of $100 and a certificate of recognition.
Of “Funding the World of Tomorrow,” our judges wrote that “It’s hard to imagine saying anything new about the World’s Fair, but Uva’s emphasis on the rise of public-private partnerships is fresh. She develops an original angle, with current relevance, by situating the World’s Fair in the context of Depression-era urban infrastructure and also effectively looking forward to the 1960s and the present. She persuades readers that the Depression is an important moment in the transformation of the relationship of private development and government. Additionally, Uva’s blog is well-written. Her piece is a model of an engaging blog—avoiding the tendency merely to reproduce a scholarly article in electronic form. It hits the right tone: Smart and scholarly while still being accessible and more casual.”
The judges would also like to honorably mention Lily Corral for “Beacons of Truth: Newspaper Buildings in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.” The judges found Corral’s piece– which takes on the life cycle of the media industry and shows how the architecture built by newspapers reflects the industry’s birth, heyday, and now legacy–to be “a well-written and well-presented blog post” with an “argument that’s easy to follow.” It “sets out to make history matter to a more general audience in a really tight way,” and “the ‘life cycle’ theme has an obvious, current relevance” to the piece.
The judges and the editors of The Metropole would again like to thank all of our excellent contest entrants and commend them for their deeply researched, original pieces, which demonstrate great scholarly promise. The judges expect that these pieces will evolve into important articles in urban history, helping to reshape our understandings of the carceral state, technology and the built environment, school desegregation, and urban renewal.
Finally, The Metropole wishes to thank judges Heather Ann Thompson, Tom Sugrue, and Richard Harris, and UHA Executive Director Peter Siskind, for their support and wisdom.
Featured image (at top): Carol M. Highsmith, “1964 New York World’s Fair site in Queens, New York,” Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.