2nd Edition

The American Urban Reader History and Theory

Edited By Lisa Krissoff Boehm, Steven Corey Copyright 2020
    780 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    780 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The American Urban Reader, Second Edition, brings together the most exciting and cutting-edge work on the history of urban forms and ways of life in the evolution of the United States, from pre-colonial Native American Indian cities, colonial European settlements, and western expansion, to rapidly expanding metropolitan regions, the growth of suburbs, and post-industrial cities.

    Each chapter is arranged chronologically and thematically around scholarly essays from historians, social scientists, and journalists, and is supplemented by relevant primary documents that offer more nuanced perspectives and convey the diversity and interdisciplinary nature of the study of the urban condition. Building upon the success of the First Edition, and responding to increasingly polarized national discourse in the era of Donald Trump’s presidency, The American Urban Reader, Second Edition, highlights both the historical urban/rural divide and the complexity and deeply woven salience of race and ethnic relations in American history.

    Lisa Krissoff Boehm and Steven H. Corey, who together hold forty-five years of classroom experience in urban studies and history, have selected a range of work that is dynamically written and carefully edited to be accessible to students and appropriate for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of how American cities have developed.


    Part I: Place Matters: Definitions and Perspectives

    Editors’ Introduction to Part I


    1.1 Steven H. Corey and Lisa Krissoff Boehm, Examining America’s Urban Landscape: From Social Reform to Social History, and Back (2010, 2019)

    1.2 Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr., The City in American Civilization (1949)

    1.3 Herbert J. Gans, Urbanism and Suburbanism as Ways of Life: A Reevaluation of Definitions (1962, 1991)

    1.4. William H. Frey, Melting Pot Cities and Suburbs (2018)


    1.1 John H. Griscom, The Sanitary Condition of the Laboring Population of New York (1845)

    1.2 Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr, Hull-House, A Social Settlement (1894)

    1.3 W.E.B. DuBois, The Environment of the Negro (1898)


    I.1 Senator Tillman’s Allegorical Cow (1896)

    I.2 ERNEST W. BURGESS, Urban Areas (1925)

    Part II: Pre-Columbian and European Foundations

    Editors’ Introduction to Part II


    2.1 Lisa Krissoff Boehm and Steven H. Corey, Pre-Colonial and Seventeenth-Century Native American Settlements (2015)

    2.2 David J. Weber, Frontier and Frontier Peoples Transformed (1992)

    2.3 Emma Hart, "To Plant in Towns": Charles Towne at the Founding of Carolina (2010)


    2.1 The ‘Lost’ Native American City of Etzanoa (1602)

    2.2 Henry Marie Brackenridge, Envisioning Great American Indian Cities (1813)

    2.3 John Winthrop, A Model of Christian Charity (1630)

    2.4 Benjamin Bullivant, Philadelphia in 1697

    2.5 An Act for Establishing Ports and Towns (1705)

    Part III: From British to American Cities

    Editors’ Introduction to Part III

    3.1 Pauline Maier, Boston and New York in the Eighteenth Century (1981)

    3.2 Benjamin L. Carp, The Forgotten City (2007)

    3.3 Richard C. Wade, Urban Life in Western America, 1790–1830 (1958)


    3.1. Conspiracy... For Burning the City of New-York. . . (1744)

    3.2.   T.D. Judah, A Practical Plan for the Rebuilding of the Pacific Railroad (1857)

    3.3 Horace Greeley, Letter to R.L. Sanderson, November 15, 1871.


    III.1 John McKinnon, City of Savannah, Georgia (circa 1800)

    III.2 Paul Revere, "A View of Part of the Town of Boston, in New-England and Brittish Ships of War: Landing their Troops! 1768"

    III.3 Tom Willcockson, Packet Boat on the Illinois and Michigan Canal.

    III.4 Bernhard Dandorf, "View of New Orleans Taken from the Lower Cotton Press" (circa 1850–1855) 

    III.5 Joseph Smith, Plat of Zion, 1833

    Part IV: Ways of City Life, 1820s–1920s

    Editors’ Introduction to Part IV


    4.1 Christine Stansell, Women in the Neighborhoods (1986)

    4.2 Timothy Gilfoyle, The "Guns" of Gotham (2006)

    4.3 Ronald T. Takaki, Ethnic Islands (1989)

    4.4 George Chauncey, Urban Culture and the Policing of the "City of Bachelors" (1994)

    4.5 Clifton Hood, A Dynamic Businessman's Aristocracy: The 1890s (2017)


    4.1 Vesey Slave Revolt, Charleston, South Carolina (1822)

    4.2 Tredegar and Armory Iron Works, Richmond, Virginia (1847)

    4.3 Debates on Chinese Immigration (1876)

    4.4 Jacob Riis, The Mixed Crowd (1890)

    4.5 Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie (1900)

    4.6 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, New York City (1911)

    4.7 John Hope Franklin and Scott Ellsworth, Tulsa Race Riots, 1921

    4.8 Ku Klux Klan Initiation, Worcester, Massachusetts (1924)


    IV.1 "The Pocket Book Dropper," The National Police Gazette May 27, 1848.

    Part V: From Party Bosses to Federalism: The Evolution of Urban Government

    Editors’ Introduction to Part V


    5.1 Jessica Troustine, Challenging the Machine-Reform Dichotomy: Two Threats to Urban Democracy (2009)

    5.2 Lizabeth Cohen, Workers Make a New Deal (1990, 2008)

    5.3 Nicholas Lemann, Washington, D.C. (1991)


    5.1 William Tweed’s Confession (1878)

    5.2 Lincoln Steffens, Philadelphia: Corrupted and Contented (1903)

    5.3 Lyndon B. Johnson, The Great Society (1964)

    5.4 Daniel Patrick Moynihan, The Negro Family and the Case for National Action (1965)

    5.5 President Arrives in Alabama, Briefed on Hurricane Katrina (2005)

    5.6 Will Wilkinson, "Why Does Trump Demonize Cities? Washington Post March 17, 2017


    V.1 "A Correct Map of the New York Central Park, 1865."

    V.2 Post-Katrina New Orleans Neighborhoods, March 2006 

    Part VI: The Urban Environment

    Editors’ Introduction to Part VI


    6.1 John T. Cumbler, From Milling to Manufacturing: From Villages to Mill Towns (2001)

    6.2 Dominic A. Pacyga, Spectacle: Facing the Modern World (2015)

    6.3 Martin V. Melosi and Joseph A. Pratt, Houston: The Energy Metropolis (2007)

    6.4 David Naguib Pellow and Lisa Sun-Hee Park, The Emergence of Silicon Valley: High-Tech Development and Ecocide, 1950–2001 (2002)

    6.5 Andrew Needham, The Valley of the Sun (2014)


    6.1. Lyndon B. Johnson, Special Message to the Congress on Conservation and Restoration of Natural Beauty (1965)

    6.2 Commission for Racial Justice, United Church of Christ, Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States (1987)

    6.3 Michigan Civil Rights Commission, The Flint Water Crisis: Systematic Racism Through the Eyes of Flint (2017)


    VI.1 "Bridge Over the Monongahela River, Pittsburgh, Penn." (1857) 

    VI.2 Citizens Association of New York. "Encroachment of Nuisances upon Populous Up-Town Districts" (1864) 

    VI.3 "Demolished and Titled By the Earthquake, Homes on Howard Street at 17th, 1906. (544–7961) Kelly and Chadwick." San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

    VI.4 "Smog, Salt Lake City, Utah, November 11, 1950." 

    Part VII: Traversing and Transforming Urban Space: Transportation and Planning

    Editors’ Introduction to Part VII


    7.1 Sam Bass Warner, Jr., From Walking City to the Implementation of the Street Railways (1962)

    7.2 Marta Gutman, The Landscape of Charity in California: First Imprints in San Francisco (2014)

    7.3 Clifton Hood, The Subway and the City (1993)

    7.4 Robert Fogelson, Wishful Thinking: Downtown and the Automotive Revolution (2001)

    7.5 D. Bradford Hunt, Planning a Social Disaster (2009)


    7.1 National Interstate and Defense Highways Act (1956)

    7.2 Walter D. Moody, Wacker’s Manual of the Plan of Chicago (1913)

    7.3 A Selection from the Housing Act of 1949

    7.4 Toni Randolph, Southdale Mall, Edina, Minnesota (2006)

    7.5 Jane Jacobs, The Use of Sidewalks: Assimilating Children (1961)

    7.6 Congress for the New Urbanism, Charter of the New Urbanism (1996)


    Transportation Revolution Photo Essay 

    VII.1 "Clic-Clack De Omnibus," Street Scene, 1835.

    VII.2 "Whitehall, South, and Staten Island Ferries and Revenue Barge Office, New York." c. 1850s–1860s.

    VII.3 Trolley Wayfinder, "Bird’s Eye View of Trolley Routes in New England," New England Street Railway Club, 1907.

    VII.4 Horsecar, New York City, 1908. 

    VII.5 Norfolk, Virginia, Granby Street, c. 1915. 

    VII.6 Cable Car, Hyde Street Hill, San Francisco, c. 1970s. 

    VII.7 Creeping Sickness, American City. April 1929.

    Explorations in Urban Planning and Design

    VII.8 Ebenezer Howard, Garden-City Diagram, Garden Cities of To-Morrow (1902)

    VII.9 "A Perspective View of Part of the Model Town of Radburn, New Jersey" (1929) 

    VII.10 Celebration, Florida, 2008

    VII.11 The New York Highline, 2017 

    Part VIII: Urban Migrations, Race, and Social Mobility

    Editors’ Introduction to Part VIII


    8.1 Arnold R. Hirsch, The Second Ghetto and the Dynamics of Neighborhood (1983, 1998)

    8.2 Lisa Krissoff Boehm, Making a Way out of No Way: African American Women and the Second Great Migration (2009)

    8.3 Chad Berry, The Great White Migration, 1945–1960 (2000)

    8.4 Robert O. Self, White Noose (2003)

    8.5 Emily E. Straus, Separate But Unequal (2014)


    8.1 Zoot Suit Riots (1943)

    8.2 Sloan Wilson, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1955)

    8.3 Alverrine Parker, Memories of the Second Great Migration (2002)

    8.4 Harriette Arnow, The Dollmaker (1954)


    VIII.1 "Map 1. Percentage of black population, in census tracts, city of Chicago, 1940"

    VIII.2 "Map 3. Percentage of black population, in census tracts, city of Chicago, 1960" 

    Part IX: Race and Borderlands in the Post-War Metropolis

    Editors’ Introduction to Part IX


    9.1 Thomas J. Sugrue, Class, Status and Residence: The Changing Geography of Black Detroit (1996)

    9.2 N.B.D. Connolly, Bargaining and Hoping (2014)

    9.3 Monica Perales, Making a Border City (2010)

    9.4 A.K. Sandoval-Strausz, Latino Landscapes: Postwar Cities and the Transnational Origins of a New Urban America (2014)


    9.1 Watts Riots (1965)

    9.2 Adam Fortunate Eagle, Urban Indians (1964–1969)

    9.3 Oakland Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, Ten Point Plan (1966)

    9.4 President George H. W. Bush, Address to the Nation on the Civil Disturbances in Los Angeles, California (1992)


    IX.1 "Map 7.1(a). Black Population in Detroit, 1940. 1 Dot = 200"

    IX.2 "Map 7.1 (d). Black Population in Detroit, 1970. 1 Dot = 200"

    Part X: Postindustrial Cities

    Editors’ Introduction to Part X


    10.1 Hal Rothman, Inventing Las Vegas (2003)

    10.2 Aaron Shkuda, Artist Organizations, Political Advocacy, and the Creation of a Residential SoHo (2016)

    10.3 Chloe E. Taft, The Postindustrial Factory (2016)

    10.4 Todd R. Clear and Natasha A. Frost, The Punishment Imperative (2014)


    10.1 Patrick Sisson, "How a ‘reverse Great Migration’ is reshaping U.S. cities," Curbed (2018)

    10.2 Investigation of Ferguson Police Department (2015)

    References and Suggested Bibliography

    Copyright Information



    Lisa Krissoff Boehm is Dean of the College of Graduate Studies at Bridgewater State University. She is the author of Popular Culture and the Enduring Myth of Chicago and Making a Way out of No Way: African American Women and the Second Great Migration.

    Steven H. Corey is Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of History at Columbia College Chicago. He has written for Environmental Ethics, PS: Political Science and Politics, Journal of Urban History, and was research curator for Garbage! The History and Politics of Trash in New York City.  

    "This wonderful collection offers readers an opportunity to explore the deep interdisciplinary nature of urban history through topics ranging from migrants and immigrants to the environment and transportation. The essays, like cities themselves, unfold in layers: there are documents offering insight in cities, classic essays on urban history and studies, as well as the latest scholarship. While providing a wide-ranging introduction to cities, the volume also encourages thoughtful consideration of gender, race, and class across American history."

    –Ann Keating, Dr. C. Frederick Toenniges Professor of History, North Central College, co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Chicago


    "An outstanding single-volume reader, incorporating a richly diverse array of primary and secondary sources from the pre-Colombian period to the present. The second edition further enriches the content of the first with inclusion of the newest scholarship and primary-source materials you won’t find anywhere else. Carefully curated and thoughtfully introduced, this is an essential resource for anyone wanting to better understand America’s urban past."

    –Margaret O’Mara, Howard & Frances Keller Professor of History, University of Washington, author of Cities of Knowledge


    "As the planet’s population moves into growing megacities, a more just and sustainable future depends upon understanding the social, environmental, and political complexities of human settlement. The essays and documents in the second edition of The American Urban Reader provide valuable historical perspectives on contemporary problems of cities in the United States. This volume will generate productive classroom discussion about the roots of the systems we rely upon, as well as the inequities that divide us."

    –Carl A. Zimring, Professor of Sustainability Studies, Pratt Institute, author of Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States