Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226311289 Published September 2014
E-book $7.00 to $45.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226156156 Published September 2014 Also Available From

A City for Children

Women, Architecture, and the Charitable Landscapes of Oakland, 1850-1950

Marta Gutman

A City for Children

Marta Gutman

448 pages | 120 halftones, 14 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Color images are included in the e-book edition only.
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226311289 Published September 2014
E-book $7.00 to $45.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226156156 Published September 2014
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.

In 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 landscape—a network of places that was critical for the betterment of children, families, and public life.  The industrial landscape of Oakland, riddled with the effects of social inequalities and racial prejudices, is not a neutral backdrop in Gutman’s story but an active player. Spanning one hundred years of history, A City for Children 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.
List of Illustrations

ONE / New Ideas from Old Things in Oakland
TWO / The Landscape of Charity in California: First Imprints in San Francisco
THREE / The Ladies Intervene: Repurposed and Purpose-Built in Temescal
FOUR / The West Oakland Home: The “Noble Work for a Life Saving” of Rebecca McWade
FIVE / The Saloon That Became a School: Free Kindergartens in Northern California
SIX / The Art and Craft of Settlement Work in Oakland Point
SEVEN / “The Ground Must Belong to the City”: Playgrounds and Recreation Centers in Oakland’s Neighborhoods
EIGHT / Orphaned in Oakland: Institutional Life during the Progressive Era
NINE / Childhood on the Color Line in West Oakland: Day Nurseries during the Interwar Years

Oral Histories and Interviews
Abbreviations Used in the Notes
Review Quotes
Times Higher Education
“A monumental achievement.”
Paola Antonelli, senior curator, Architecture & Design, director, R&D, Museum of Modern Art
“The book is an underground earthquake. So many of us forget that cities do not just happen, but rather are designed, mis-designed and misled, conceived on foundations that sometimes are, very simply, built upside down or on shaky grounds. I loved reading it.”
The Architect's Newspaper
“Gutman puts forward an expansive view of the built environment that pays close attention to the ways that reforms in the urban environment and changes in attitudes toward childhood crossed with architecture, interiors, and material culture. . . . A City for Children offers . . . a point of view that asks us to penetrate facades and closely look at what happened in the streets to understand the social forces that shaped the landscape of society.”
Abbie Van Slyck, Connecticut College
“Remarkable. Based on extensive research, A City for Children is a sophisticated historical investigation into a wide range of charitable institutions built by women in Oakland, California, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries primarily to serve the needs of children. Gutman is particularly attentive to the racial politics that informed the development of these institutions, and like all of her work, this book promises to inform current public policy debates, not just about Oakland, but also about American cities in general.”
Carla Yanni, Rutgers University
“An outstanding book, based on creative research and innovative historical framing, A City for Children is the most comprehensive and nuanced study of the cultural landscape of charitable institutions.  Gutman’s expertise in the history of childhood, gender studies, and architecture make this an ambitious and path-breaking work.”
Mary P. Ryan | Johns Hopkins University
“The ‘charitable landscape,’ is just one of the multiple layers of urban history that Marta Gutman has recovered and brought vividly to light. She has also exposed the complicated and intertwined relations of race and gender that were built into the urban fabric.  By book’s end, readers will be richly rewarded with a poignant recognition of the everyday human triumphs and losses that gave shape to the physical spaces of our cities.”
Michael Sorkin, director of the Graduate Urban Design Program at the City College of New York
“This beautifully crafted and original account describes the fraught creation of what became an everyday halcyon in Oakland, California: the building, beginning in the late 19th century, of a ‘charitable landscape’ to improve the lives of children.  Marta Gutman brilliantly brings to life a remarkable, and fortifying, coincidence of women’s will, civic spirit, and Progressive politics that ‘repurposed’ space to benefit—and create—the city’s smallest subjects.  Depicting a remarkable cohort that sought to remake the city by, among other things, converting saloons to kindergartens, this book uncovers a nexus of design and social life, rich with nuance and implication.  An exceptionally tender work.”
Karen Sánchez-Eppler | Amherst College
“With remarkable detail, nuance and clarity Marta Gutman recovers the history of Oakland’s charitable institutions for children in a way that offers transformative insights into the landscapes of age, gender, race, religion, philanthropy, and urban development. Gutman takes the ‘landscapes’ of her title literally—this is most powerfully a book about space, about the ideas, practices, and social and material conditions that enabled women to claim spaces for children.  In many instances they did this by repurposing buildings initially constructed with other intentions. Marta Gutman’s manner of writing history participates in this tradition of strategic repurposing garnering the materials of architectural history, women’s history, children’s history, and the history of urban reform to forge something new. This is a wonderful book.”
“Synthesizing a rich blend of methodologies and primary sources, Gutman presents a meticulous investigation of how institutional spaces socialized orphans to follow ‘useful,’ gendered, middle-class narratives for life. . . . A great strength is Gutman’s ability to contextualize local events with larger intellectual currents within the US and abroad. . . . Recommended.”
Journal of American History
“Gutman takes considerable pains to present the history of Oakland’s charitable institutions for children in the context of state, regional, national, and even international trends, broadening the book’s appeal and value. . . . [An] ambitious work that argues so compellingly for the importance of urban structures designed for the betterment of children, families, and public life.”

Langum Charitable Trust: Gene E. and Adele R. Malott Prize

Center for Historic Preservation: Historic Preservation Book Prize

Urban History Association: UHA-Kenneth Jackson Award

View Recent Awards page for more award winning books.
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