James Q. Wilson

  • Urban Renewal

    Urban Renewal

    The Record and the Controversy

    James Q. Wilson

    Urban renewal is one of the most widely discussed and controversial domestic programs of our time. It has been the subject of numerous articles in both popular scholarly and polemic, and of newspaper editorials as well as news accounts of citizen meetings and city council hearings. Urban renewal means very different things to different people, and it has engendered a wide spectrum of human passions. This book provides a ready source in which the reader can find the best material on the history of the urban renewal program and the controversies surrounding it.

    As James Q. Wilson notes in his introduction, “Urban renewal is not the most expensive or the most far-reaching domestic governmental program of our time, yet it is one of the most widely-discussed and perhaps the most controversial. We spend far more on farm subsidies and highways, yet these programs – except for an occasional scandal – are rarely debated outside the circle of immediate participants and their scholarly observers. There are other federal housing programs – especially the FHA mortgage guarantee program – the collective impact of which has, in the past at least, been considerably greater than urban renewal, yet only rarely in recent years have they been the objects of general public discussion. The decisions of a variety of obscure regulatory commissions in Washington probably affect the lives of more people than does urban renewal, yet seldom does one encounter in print the names of these agencies, much less an argument over their policies.”

    This is only comprehensive collection of articles on the background, workings, and problems of the federal urban renewal program. It contains contributions both from the government officials administering these programs and from some of their critics; it takes up the major economic, legal, social, political, planning, and design issues surrounding this program. It is the only work that attempts to present all points of view, as well as background data; almost every other work in this field has been written from one or another special point of view. Among the contributors are: Raymond Vernon, William Slayton, William Alonso, Martin Anderson, Herbert J. Gans, Charles Abrams, Robert C. Weaver.

    Most of the articles have appeared in print before, though some were written especially for this volume; others were updated and revised. Many of the articles first appeared in government publications or scholarly journals that are not easy to locate except in the largest university libraries.

    This book is intended as a reference work for local city-planning and development agencies, for schools of city planning and architecture, for professors teaching courses in urban government and city planning, and for the many civic associations and individuals active in this field.

    Published by the M.I.T. Press for the Joint Center for Urban Studies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

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