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The Third City: Chicago and American Urbanism (Chicago Visions and Revisions)by Larry Bennett
Synopses & Reviews
Our traditional image of Chicagoand#8212;as a gritty metropolis carved into ethnically defined enclaves where the game of machine politics overshadows its endsand#8212;is such a powerful shaper of the cityand#8217;s identity that many of its closest observers fail to notice that a new Chicago has emerged over the past two decades. Larry Bennett here tackles some of our more commonly held ideas about the Windy Cityand#8212;inherited from such icons as Theodore Dreiser, Carl Sandburg, Daniel Burnham, Robert Park, Sara Paretsky, and Mike Roykoand#8212;with the goal of better understanding Chicago as it is now: the third city.
Bennett calls contemporary Chicago the third city to distinguish it from its two predecessors: the first city, a sprawling industrial center whose historical arc ran from the Civil War to the Great Depression; and the second city, the Rustbelt exemplar of the period from around 1950 to 1990. The third city features a dramatically revitalized urban core, a shifting population mix that includes new immigrant streams, and a growing number of middle-class professionals working in new economy sectors. It is also a city utterly transformed by the top-to-bottom reconstruction of public housing developments and the ambitious provision of public works like Millennium Park. It is, according to Bennett, a work in progress spearheaded by Richard M. Daley, a self-consciously innovative mayor whose strategy of neighborhood revitalization and urban renewal is a prototype of city governance for the twenty-first century. The Third City ultimately contends that to understand Chicago under Daleyand#8217;s charge is to understand what metropolitan life across North America may well look like in the coming decades.
How does a building boom happen? Who inflates a real-estate bubble and why? What causes companies to move from seemingly usable office space into new quarters only blocks away? Rachel Weber digs into these questions and more in her detailed analysis of Chicagoand#8217;s downtown development during the and#147;Millennial Boomand#8221; (1998and#150;2008). Weber shows what happens when the real estate industry, financial markets, and public planning all operate at warp speed to build new structures and destroy older ones. She draws on years of interviews with real estate actors across the country, participant observation in a secretive sector, analyses of financial and development data, as well as the history of the appraisal, brokerage, and real estate finance professions. As a result, Weberand#8217;s book is an unprecedented historical, sociological, and geographic look at how markets and urban change actually happen.
During the Great Recession, the housing bubble took much of the blame for bringing the American economy to its knees, but commercial real estate also experienced its own boom-and-bust in the same time period. In Chicago, for example, law firms and corporate headquarters abandoned their historic downtown office buildings for the millions of brand-new square feet that were built elsewhere in the central business district. What causes construction booms like this, and why do they so often leave a glut of vacant space and economic distress in their wake?
In From Boom to Bubble, Rachel Weber debunks the idea that booms occur only when cities are growing and innovating. Instead, she argues, even in cities experiencing employment and population decline, developers rush to erect new office towers and apartment buildings when they have financial incentives to do so. Focusing on the main causes of overbuilding during the early 2000s, Weber documents the case of Chicagoandrsquo;s andldquo;Millennial Boom,andrdquo; showing that the Loopandrsquo;s expansion was a response to global and local pressures to produce new assets. An influx of cheap cash, made available through the use of complex financial instruments, helped transform what started as a boom grounded in modest occupant demand into a speculative bubble, where pricing and supply had only tenuous connections to the market. Innovative and compelling, From Boom to Bubble is an unprecedented historical, sociological, and geographic look at how property markets change and failandmdash;and how that affects cities.
About the Author
Larry Bennett is professor of political science at DePaul University. He is the author and coauthor of numerous books, including Fragments of Cities: The New American Downtowns and Neighborhoods, Neighborhood Politics: Chicago and Sheffield, and Itandrsquo;s Hardly Sportinandrsquo;: Stadiums, Neighborhoods, and the New Chicago.
Table of Contents
1. The Third City
2. Renditions of Chicago
3. The Mayor among His Peers
4. The City of Neighborhoods
5. Wresting the New from the Once Modern
6. Chicago and American Urbanism
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History and Social Science » Politics » General