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Urban Neighborhoods in a New Era

Revitalization Politics in the Postindustrial City

For decades, North American cities racked by deindustrialization and population loss have followed one primary path in their attempts at revitalization: a focus on economic growth in downtown and business areas. Neighborhoods, meanwhile, have often been left severely underserved. There are, however, signs of change. This collection of studies by a distinguished group of political scientists and urban planning scholars offers a rich analysis of the scope, potential, and ramifications of a shift still in progress. Focusing on neighborhoods in six cities—Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Toronto—the authors show how key players, including politicians and philanthropic organizations, are beginning to see economic growth and neighborhood improvement as complementary goals. The heads of universities and hospitals in central locations also find themselves facing newly defined realities, adding to the fluidity of a new political landscape even as structural inequalities exert a continuing influence.

While not denying the hurdles that community revitalization still faces, the contributors ultimately put forth a strong case that a more hospitable local milieu can be created for making neighborhood policy. In examining the course of experiences from an earlier period of redevelopment to the present postindustrial city, this book opens a window on a complex process of political change and possibility for reform.

304 pages | 14 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2015

Political Science: American Government and Politics, Urban Politics

Sociology: Urban and Rural Sociology


“A generation ago, scholars sought to ‘bring the state back in’ to studies of urban politics. Urban Neighborhoods in a New Era proposes to do the same for neighborhood revitalization politics. This is a timely and important work with well-written case studies, cross-city statistics, and a wealth of forward-looking theoretical insights that will appeal to a wide-ranging audience of scholars and students as well as practitioners in the nonprofit sector and general readers interested in the fate of cities.”

Steven P. Erie, University of California, San Diego

"An excellent collection of research essays on the changing fortunes of urban neighborhoods, and the approaches cities have developed to support them, over the last several decades. The volume includes outstanding and up-to-date interpretative analysis of both the politics and the policy process in one Canadian and five American cities. Altogether, the book represents a new standard in comparative urban studies for North America."

Richard Stren, University of Toronto

“A half-century of battles between pro-development forces and neighborhood defenders has reshaped the urban political landscape. Conflicts exist in cities around the world between economic forces favoring development and protectors of neighborhood distinctiveness. What is different is that outcomes are no longer as pre-determined as in the past. Through a series of well-informed and perceptive case studies, the authors identify an important incremental shift in urban policy from a narrow preoccupation with land use toward greater concern with people. Revitalization policies have become viewed as an iterative and ongoing process rather than as a package of fixed products. While inequality and neighborhood distress remain pressing challenges for urban communities everywhere, this volume demonstrates that the possibilities for responding are more fluid and, hopefully, more effective than ever before.”

Blair Ruble, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

 “A diverse picture of efforts to overcome poverty. . . . Power is less concentrated than in previous decades, compelling neighborhoods to seek political and financial resources close at hand. The best prospects lie in the political mobilization of each community to formulate an agenda and assert its concerns in the arenas of city government and institutional life.  The case studies offer instructive examples of this occurring in some places, but many areas of distress and deterioration remain. . . . Recommended.”


"Given that much previous work in urban politics concentrated on policy actions targeting the CBD to analyze power configurations in cities, a book investigating urban power through the lens of neighborhood politics is definitely to be welcomed and will probably become a landmark in the field. The six case studies (chapters 3 to 8) are impressively well-documented and insightfully combine a citywide historical perspective on the increasing political attention granted to neighborhoods with specific foci on how revitalization initiatives were concretely implemented in some distressed neighborhoods."

Sébastien Lambelet | International Journal of Urban and Regional Research

Table of Contents

List of Tables

Preface, by Clarence N. Stone

List of Abbreviations

One / Change Afoot
Martin Horak, Juliet Musso, Ellen Shiau, Robert P. Stoker, and Clarence N. Stone

Two / Contexts for Neighborhood Revitalization: A Comparative Overview
Harold Wolman and Martin Horak, with the assistance of Camille A. Sola and Diana Hincapie

Three / Neighborhood Policy in Baltimore: The Postindustrial Turn
Robert P. Stoker, Clarence N. Stone, and Donn Worgs

Four / Standing in Two Worlds: Neighborhood Policy, the Civic Arena, and Ward-Based Politics in Chicago
John Betancur, Karen Mossberger, and Yue Zhang

Five / Professionalized Government: Institutionalizing the New Politics in Phoenix
Marilyn Dantico and James Svara

Six / City Fragmentation and Neighborhood Connections: The Political Dynamics of Community Revitalization in Los Angeles
Ellen Shiau, Juliet Musso, and Jefferey M. Sellers

Seven / The New Politics in a Postindustrial City: Intersecting Policies in Denver
Susan E. Clarke

Eight / Policy Shift without Institutional Change: The Precarious Place of Neighborhood Revitalization in Toronto
Martin Horak and Aaron Alexander Moore

Nine / Contending with Structural Inequality in a New Era
Robert P. Stoker, Clarence N. Stone, and Martin Horak

List of Coauthors

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