In a series of short, to-the-point reports and policy papers, this group of researchers goes directly to the sprawling and tangled problems of the still largely unexplored urban world. With a mixed sense of crisis and confidence, the “nation of cities” emerging on this continent is tentatively and provisionally mapped out by such well-known trail-blazers in this field as Gunnar Mydral, Jean Gottmnn, and John Dyckman. Among others. They confront the challenge of the city at the level of current planning, local and national. They look beyond the (necessary) first experiments and immediate expedients of urban renewal and the antipoverty program to the eventual trillion-dollar transformations that at this point can be discussed only in an attitude of scholarly detachment.
As John Dyckman points out, the interaction of cities (with their satellites and regional fields of influence) will constrict the possibilities of independent economic action on the part of any one city. The federal government will be forced to set the limits of intercity competition, contrary to the ingrained traditions of Chamber-of-Commerce boosterism, congressional pork-barreling, and self-interested industrial development.
Beyond the difficulties, there are hopes: of providing full urban employment, not with make-work but with satisfying and fulfilling jobs; of financing the amenities of the city through a balance between subsidy and user support; of effecting integration (racial and regional) of the neighborhoods and schools through economic planning; of finally providing choice in urban life, beyond the restrictions of bare necessity.
With the new federal programs, city and social workers are themselves undergoing a sort of on-the-job “retraining.” It is the authors' hope that this book will be used as the basis of work sessions by administrators, local planners, social workers, legislators, and active citizens. It does not “talk down” to an imaginary audience; these discussions originated with the contributors addressing each other – and since they represent such diverse specialties, they took care to be understood by one another and by all who are concerned with the realistic of the city.