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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Bancroft Prize

In 21st century America, some cities are flourishing and others are struggling, but they all must contend with deteriorating infrastructure, economic inequality, and unaffordable housing. Cities have limited tools to address these problems, and many must rely on the private market to support the public good.  

It wasn't always this way. For almost three decades after World War II, even as national policies promoted suburban sprawl, the federal government underwrote renewal efforts for cities that had suffered during the Great Depression and the war and were now bleeding residents into the suburbs. 

In Saving America's Cities, Lizabeth Cohen follows the career of Edward J. Logue, whose shifting approach to the urban crisis tracked the changing balance between government-funded public programs and private interests that would culminate in the neoliberal rush to privatize efforts to solve entrenched social problems. 

A Yale-trained lawyer, rival of Robert Moses, and sometime critic of Jane Jacobs, Logue saw renewing cities as an extension of the liberal New Deal. He worked to revive a declining New Haven, became the architect of the "New Boston" of the 1960s, and, later, led New York State's Urban Development Corporation, which built entire new towns, including Roosevelt Island in New York City.

©2019 Lizabeth Cohen (P)2020 Tantor

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The Logical next step from “The Power Broker”

An explicitly captivating summary of the socio-political evolution of American Urban Planning theory and practice from the eyes of the influential Ed Logue.

You will stumble, not walk, away from this book feeling a deeper understanding of the inner workings of housing and community revitalization in the context of mid 20th century U.S. cities.

The enigma of Ed Logue’s moral battle against the powers that be at times frame him as shallow and mis-understanding. However, at his peak he commanded the tumultuously improving helm of the Urban Planning field. His history set on all sides by the under appreciated and wickedly complex predicaments with which he operated to the best that his positions, authorities, and temporal constrictions would allow. Was he a planning messiah set aside from mortal tendency and temptation, no, of course not. However, over the time period he was perhaps the most ethically grounded and motivated planner that wielded the level of influence that would perhaps turn JJs to RMs.

Much can be said of Ed’s admirable transformation from rational advocate to radical participant in the battle for affordable housing in sustainable communities worth living in. If he did or did not live up to his creed of “planning with people” is a point for further discussion. However, it is of no contest that the later projects he championed changed the contexts of substantively participatory Urban Planning approaches in America. Ed Logue was a pivotal fulcrum in the shift from rational and advocacy planning to the grassroots community context based approach that many planners today seek to improve and improvise upon.


If you’ve stuck around this long, you will be much better off experiencing the authorship of Lizabeth Cohen yourself by reading this book.