Synopses & Reviews
In this first study of the politics and policy-making behind the creation of modern Washington, Alan Lessoff explores a city that would seem an exception to the usual rules of urban development, one without industry and commercial growth to drive it. He argues, however, that this absence of typical economic interests allows a particularly clear view of politics and urban issues in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Explaining how government in post-Civil War Washington promoted prosperity, established aesthetic standards, protected health and safety, managed race relations, and resolved federal-local conflicts, Lessoff reveals the true character of American politics and policy-making in the period as never before.
In completely recasting our understanding of Washington as it emerged as a modern city, Alan Lessoff has not only revised the history of the capital, but shed new light on a national political ethos that, in promoting improvement, often cast citizens in a secondary role. His study will challenge political scientists, historians, and urbanists to rethink their views of the Gilded Age.--Howard F. Gillette, Jr., George Washington University.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 277-281) and index.