On Wednesday, November 6th, please join the Harvard Alumni Architectural and Urban Society to hear Lizabeth Cohen, Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies at Harvard University, speak about her latest book, Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban age (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 1, 2019).
In twenty-first-century America, some cities are flourishing and others are struggling, but they all must contend with deteriorating infrastructure, economic inequality, and unaffordable housing. Cities have limited tools to address these problems, and many must rely on the private market to support the public good.
It wasn’t always this way. For almost three decades after World War II, even as national policies promoted suburban sprawl, the federal government underwrote renewal efforts for cities that had suffered during the Great Depression and the war and were now bleeding residents into the suburbs. In Saving America’s Cities, the prizewinning historian Lizabeth Cohen follows the career of Edward J. Logue, whose shifting approach to the urban crisis tracked the changing balance between government-funded public programs and private interests that would culminate in the neoliberal rush to privatize efforts to solve entrenched social problems. A Yale-trained lawyer, rival of Robert Moses, and sometime critic of Jane Jacobs, Logue saw renewing cities as an extension of the liberal New Deal. He worked to revive a declining New Haven, became the architect of the “New Boston” of the 1960s, and, later, led New York State’s Urban Development Corporation, which built entire new towns, including Roosevelt Island in New York City.
Logue’s era of urban renewal has a complicated legacy: Neighborhoods were demolished and residents dislocated, but there were also genuine successes and progressive goals. Saving America’s Cities is a dramatic story of heartbreak and destruction but also of human idealism and resourcefulness, opening up possibilities for our own.
"One of America’s most controversial policies as seen through the career of one of its most outspoken advocates; an essential read." ―Library Journal (starred review)
"Is it possible to write not only a good book about urban renewal but also a beautiful one? If you are Lizabeth Cohen, it is. Saving America's Cities is, at once, a new, wise and more balanced take on past efforts to save America's cities and a fascinating portrait of Ed Logue, a central figure in urban policy whose personal trajectory parallels the course of our debates over what works, and what doesn't. If you care about cities, you should read this book. But you should also read it if you simply love a great story full of compelling characters engaged in high-stakes struggles. It's a wonderful achievement." ―E. J. Dionne, Jr., author of Our Divided Political Heart, Why the Right Went Wrong and co-author of One Nation After Trump
"Lizabeth Cohen has written a terrific biography of the American city planner Ed Logue―a man of huge talent and equally staggering ego. Her account of Logue's rise and fall is both personally gripping and illuminates how American cities in the last century have tried, and failed, to balance the claims of cash, class, and race. Her scholarship is impeccable; her writing is a sheer pleasure." ―Richard Sennett, Centennial Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics, and author of Building and Dwelling
"In some ways, Edward Logue was an imperial master builder, a latter-day version of Robert Moses. But in others―particularly in his abiding concern for the welfare of our cities’ poor and powerless―he could not have been more different. Lizabeth Cohen’s penetrating study of the man and his era sees both Logue and the post-war urban America he tried to rebuild clearly, and persuasively. It’s quite a story, very well told." ―Daniel Okrent, author of The Guarded Gate and Last Call
"This captivating biography of Ed Logue explains how a largely-forgotten liberal power broker made a profound but little-known impact on the urban landscape we still inhabit. One of our most distinguished historians, Lizabeth Cohen illuminates the struggle to make cities both viable and democratic that shaped postwar America. At a time when ordinary people can barely afford to live in America’s biggest cities, Cohen’s book is a necessary book to read." ―Michael Kazin, Professor of History, Georgetown University, and author of War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918
637 West 27th Street, Ground floor Gallery, New York, NY
Doors will open at 6:00 PM and the presentation will begin promptly at 6:30. The discussion will be followed by a reception with complimentary drinks and light snacks. Books will also be available for purchase.
Lizabeth Cohen is the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies at Harvard University and the former dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She is the author of Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919–1939, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the Bancroft Prize, and A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America.