Building the Chicago Police State: A Review of Occupied Territory

By Davarian L. Baldwin Balto, Simon. Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2019. By 2015, Chicago had become a symbol of the broken relationship between Black communities and the law enforcement apparatus. Outrage over the massive police cover-up of Laquan McDonald’s killing […]

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Neglected Gems: Soft City

By Richard Harris Raban, Jonathan. Soft City. New York: E.P.Dutton, 1974. Let me fess up: I’m cheating. Apart from the fact that this was written half a century ago, Soft City isn’t a neglected item of urban historical writing. It was one of the two books that made me into a student of cities. The other […]

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Stories from Below: A Review of “Down and Out in Saigon”

By Ziqi Wu Cherry, Haydon. Down and Out in Saigon: Stories of the Poor in a Colonial City. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019. Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, was once considered an exotic French colonial city, “The Pearl of the Far East.” From the 1860s to the mid-twentieth century, official records reflect the […]

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Neglected Gems: Chicago Made

By Richard Harris Robert Lewis. 2008. Chicago Made. Factory Networks in the Industrial Metropolis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Many fine works are neglected because they treat a subject that is important but unfashionable. Chicago Made falls squarely into that category. Now not all of the overlap between urban and business historians has been neglected. […]

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Stymieing the People: A Review of Design for the Crowd: Patriotism and Protest in Union Square

By Thai Jones Merwood-Salisbury, Joanna. Design for the Crowd: Patriotism and Protest in Union Square. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019. Union Square today displays an extraordinary mania for subdivision. Its ten acres have been hardscaped by fencing and concrete into a multitude of distinct levels and impermeable zones. On the surface, these choices appear […]

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Plagued Administrative State?: A Review of Florence Under Siege

John Henderson. Florence Under Siege: Surviving Plague in an Early Modern City. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2019. By Bob Carey If it seems strange for Americans to find themselves sitting indoors waiting for COVID-19 to pass so they can return to the bargaining and trucking of everyday life, then for Italians it would […]

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Campaigning for Segregation: A Review of Threatening Property: Race, Class and Campaigns to Legislate Jim Crow Neighborhoods

Herbin-Triant, Elizabeth A. Threatening Property: Race, Class, and Campaigns to Legislate Jim Crow Neighborhoods. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. By Paige Glotzer When such an enormous percentage of urban history grapples with the legacies of housing discrimination in the United States, it can be easy to overlook the efforts to segregate that did not […]

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Finding Religion in the City: A Review of Mark Wild’s Renewal: Liberal Protestants in the American City after World War II

Mark Wild. Renewal: Liberal Protestants and the American City after World War II. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019. Review by Bob Carey Renewal: Liberal Protestants and the American City after World War II is a well written study of how liberal Protestants (liberal, white male Protestants, it is important to note) tried to establish […]

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Neglected Gems: Wrigley’s ‘Simple Model’

By Richard Harris Edward A. Wrigley. 1967. A simple model of London’s importance in changing English society and economy 1650-1750. Past and Present 37,1: 44-70. We all get bogged down in the weeds, figuring out who did what and when, and with what effect. Solidly grounded but wonderfully ambitious in scope, Tony Wrigley’s ‘simple model’ […]

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