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urban history



  • What You Think You Know About DC's Metro Skipping Georgetown is Wrong

    by Luke Mullins

    Zachary Schrag, author of the definitive book on the DC Metro system, says that the legend of affluent community opposition in the 1960s is a just-so story that ignores the realities transit planners faced, but does jibe with city residents' sense of issues of race, power, and influence. 


  • Historically, Black Distrust of Police is About More than Acts of Violence

    by Christopher Hayes

    The Harlem rebellion against the NYPD in July 1964 was sparked by a police killing of a teenager (and a grand jury's refusal to indict him), but reflected the role of the police in maintaining a profoundly unequal social order that affected everyday life in Black neighborhoods, a situation that has changed little. 



  • Where Did the Public Toilets Go?

    Peter Baldwin offers context for how American cities haltingly adopted and quickly abandoned public toilets, a story that encompasses the racial, gender and class politics of how people interact in urban space. 



  • Another Buffalo Was Possible

    by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

    India Walton seemed on track to become the first Black woman mayor in Buffalo, and the first socialist to lead a major city in decades. The sitting mayor rallied to defeat her, but we should still consider the possibility of more liberatory politics. 



  • How Academia Laid the Groundwork for Redlining

    by Todd Michney and LaDale Winling

    Richard T. Ely and his student Ernest McKinley Fisher pushed the National Association of Real Estate Boards to adopt "the unsupported hypothesis that Black people's very presence inexorably lowered property values," tying the private real estate industry to racial segregation. 



  • Detroit Bankruptcy Documentary Wins Library of Congress Prize

    Ken Burns, who collaborated with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden on the selection, called "Gradually, Then Suddenly" a "complex, nuanced, layered" examination of the city's financial crisis and the political divide between Detroit and the state of Michigan. 



  • Beware "Rising Crime" Rhetoric in Seattle Politics

    by Dan Berger

    Progressive prosecutor candidates like Nicole Thomas-Kennedy in Seattle reflect a growing social movement to reverse decades of failed "tough on crime" policies that have accomplished little but swell the ranks fo the incarcerated, says a historian of crime and punishment.



  • Timuel Black, 102: Historian and Organizer of Black Chicago

    Timuel Black mobilized the political power of the predominantly Black South Side of Chicago, taught others — including a young Barack Obama — how to do the same, and in his final decades compiled oral histories giving voice to his community’s Black working class.



  • How the Chicago Fire Changed the City's Architecture

    Chicago-based historians D. Bradford Hunt and Dominic Pacyga argue that the Great Fire of 1871 did impact the city by inaugurating an age of big renewal plans, as well as through the city's prized architecture and parks. 



  • "No There There": Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor on the Future of the Left

    "I’m sitting in the car, barreling down the highway, asking myself, 'What happened in my life that has put me in this position where I have to like listen to this &%$*@ nonsense?' I needed to leave. But like most people, I needed the health insurance."



  • An A-Z List of NYC Streets Named for Slaveowners

    by Alan Singer

    As Mayoral candidate Eric Adams has vowed to change the names of city streets associated with slavery, here's a list of those streets throughout the city.