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Original Essays | September 18, 2014

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On a hot July evening years ago, my Toyota Tercel overheated on a flat stretch of highway north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A steam geyser shot up from... Continue »
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City of American Dreams

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

American cities are constantly being built and rebuilt, resulting in ever-changing skylines and neighborhoods. While the dynamic urban landscapes of New York, Boston, and Chicago have been widely studied, there is much to be gleaned from west coast cities, especially in California, where the migration boom at the end of the nineteenth century permanently changed the urban fabric of these newly diverse, plural metropolises.

Inand#160;A City for Children, Marta Gutman focuses on the use and adaptive reuse of everyday buildings in Oakland, California, to make the city a better place for children. She introduces us to the women who were determined to mitigate the burdens placed on working-class families by an indifferent industrial capitalist economy. Often without the financial means to build from scratch, women did not tend to conceive of urban land as a blank slate to be wiped clean for development. Instead, Gutman shows how, over and over, women turned private houses in Oakland into orphanages, kindergartens, settlement houses, and day care centers, and in the process built the charitable landscapeand#151;a network of places that was critical for the betterment of children, families, and public life.and#160; The industrial landscape of Oakland, riddled with the effects of social inequalities and racial prejudices, is not a neutral backdrop in Gutmanand#8217;s story but an active player. Spanning one hundred years of history,and#160;A City for Childrenand#160;provides a compelling model for building urban institutions and demonstrates that children, women, charity, and incremental construction, renovations, alterations, additions, and repurposed structures are central to the understanding of modern cities.

Synopsis:

In this vivid portrait of life in Chicago in the fifty years after the Civil War, Margaret Garb traces the history of the American celebration of home ownership. As the nation moved from an agrarian to an industrialized urban society, the competing visions of capitalists, reformers, and immigrants turned the urban landscape into a testing ground for American values. Neither a natural progression nor an inevitable outcome, the ideal of home ownership emerged from the struggles of industrializing cities. Garb skillfully narrates these struggles, showing how the American infatuation with home ownership left the nation's cities sharply divided along class and racial lines.

Based on research of real estate markets, housing and health reform, and ordinary homeowners—African American and white, affluent and working class—City of American Dreams provides a richly detailed picture of life in one of America's great urban centers. Garb shows that the pursuit of a single-family house set on a tidy yard, commonly seen as the very essence of the American dream, resulted from clashes of interests and decades of struggle.

About the Author

Margaret Garb is associate professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1: Equal Rights, Equal Property

2: Staking a Claim in the Industrializing City

3: Health, Morality, and Housing

4: Cleanliness and Capital Investments

5: Selling Health, Independence, and Home Ownership

6: Reforming the Family Home and Improving Neighborhoods

7: Drawing the “Color Line”: The Roots of Residential Segregation

Epilogue

Notes

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226282091
Author:
Garb, Margaret
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Author:
Gutman, Marta
Subject:
History
Subject:
Real Estate - Buying/Selling Homes
Subject:
United States - State & Local
Subject:
Housing
Subject:
Home ownership - Illinois - Chicago - History
Subject:
Housing - Illinois - Chicago - History
Subject:
General-General
Subject:
United States - 19th Century
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series:
Historical Studies of Urban America
Publication Date:
20051231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
Language:
English
Illustrations:
15 halftones, 6 maps
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Business » Real Estate » Buying and Selling Homes
History and Social Science » Americana » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Urban Studies » City Specific

City of American Dreams New Hardcover
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Product details 448 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226282091 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
In this vivid portrait of life in Chicago in the fifty years after the Civil War, Margaret Garb traces the history of the American celebration of home ownership. As the nation moved from an agrarian to an industrialized urban society, the competing visions of capitalists, reformers, and immigrants turned the urban landscape into a testing ground for American values. Neither a natural progression nor an inevitable outcome, the ideal of home ownership emerged from the struggles of industrializing cities. Garb skillfully narrates these struggles, showing how the American infatuation with home ownership left the nation's cities sharply divided along class and racial lines.

Based on research of real estate markets, housing and health reform, and ordinary homeowners—African American and white, affluent and working class—City of American Dreams provides a richly detailed picture of life in one of America's great urban centers. Garb shows that the pursuit of a single-family house set on a tidy yard, commonly seen as the very essence of the American dream, resulted from clashes of interests and decades of struggle.

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