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Hardcover | $32.00 Short | £26.95 | 288 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 25 b&w photos | April 2010 | ISBN: 9780262013987
eBook | $22.00 Short | April 2010 | ISBN: 9780262266291
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Urban Modernity

Cultural Innovation in the Second Industrial Revolution


At the close of the nineteenth century, industrialization and urbanization marked the end of the traditional understanding of society as rooted in agriculture. Urban Modernity examines the construction of an urban-centered, industrial-based culture--an entirely new social reality based on science and technology. The authors show that this invention of modernity was brought about through the efforts of urban elites--businessmen, industrialists, and officials--to establish new science- and technology-related institutions. International expositions, museums, and other such institutions and projects helped stem the economic and social instability fueled by industrialization, projecting the past and the future as part of a steady continuum of scientific and technical progress. The authors examine the dynamic connecting urban planning, museums, educational institutions, and expositions in Paris, London, Chicago, Berlin, and Tokyo from 1870 to 1930. In Third Republic Paris, politicians, administrators, social scientists, architects, and engineers implemented the future city through a series of commissions, agencies, and organizations; in rapidly expanding London, cultures of science and technology were both rooted in and constitutive of urban culture; in Chicago after the Great Fire, Commercial Club members pursued civic ideals through scientific and technological change; in Berlin, industry, scientific institutes, and the popularization of science helped create a modern metropolis; and in Meiji-era Tokyo (Edo), modernization and Westernization went hand in hand.

About the Authors

Miriam R. Levin is Professor of History and Art History at Case Western Reserve University.

Sophie Forgan is on the faculty of Teesside University, Middlesbrough, England.

Robert H. Kargon is Willis K. Shepard Professor of the History of Science at The Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of The Rise of Robert Millikan: A Life in American Science and other books.

Morris Low is Senior Lecturer in Asian Studies at the University of Queensland.

Table of Contents

  • Urban Modernity
  • Urban Modernity
  • Cultural Innovation in the Second Industrial Revolution
  • Miriam R. Levin, Sophie Forgan, Martina Hessler, Robert H. Kargon, and Morris Low
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • © 2010
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • For information about special quantity discounts, please email special_sales@
  • This book was set in Engravers Gothic and Bembo by Toppan Best-set Premedia Limited. Printed and bound in the United States of America.
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Urban modernity : cultural innovation in the Second Industrial Revolution / Miriam R. Levin . . . [et al.].
  •  p. cm.
  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • ISBN 978-0-262-01398-7 (hardcover : alk. paper)
  • 1. Urbanization—History. 2. Technological innovations—Economic aspects—History. 3. Industrialization—History. I. Levin, Miriam R.
  • HT361.U7173 2010
  • 307.76 09—dc22
  • 2009034747
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • Contents
  • List of Figures vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 Dynamic Triad
  • City, Exposition, and Museum in Industrial Society  1
  • Miriam R. Levin
  • 2 Bringing the Future to Earth in Paris, 1851–1914  13
  • Miriam R. Levin
  • 3 From Modern Babylon to White City
  • Science, Technology, and Urban Change in London, 1870–1914  75
  • Sophie Forgan
  • 4 The Counterrevolution of Progress
  • A Civic Culture of Modernity in Chicago, 1880–1910  133
  • Robert H. Kargon
  • 5 “Damned Always to Alter, but Never to Be”
  • Berlin’s Culture of Change around 1900  167
  • Martina Hessler
  • 6 Promoting Scientific and Technological Change in Tokyo, 1870–1930
  • Museums, Industrial Exhibitions, and the City  205
  • Morris Low
  • 7 Coda  255
  • Miriam R. Levin
  • Index  261


“The experience of reading this book resembles the best kind of graduate seminar…this book is a wonderful contrast to those treatments of science as esoteric and ivory-tower.”—Robert Bud, The British Journal for the History of Science
““Clearly written, meticulously documented, and well argued, this work will appeal to specialists in urban studies as well as historians of science, technology, comparative cultural development, and international political development.”
R.P. Hallion, Hallion Associates CHOICE”—


CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2011.