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Paperback | $34.00 Text | £23.95 | ISBN: 9780262560597| 6 x 9 in | July 1991

Instructor Resources

Downtown, Inc.

How America Rebuilds Cities


Our cities are on the move again. Pioneering observers of the urban landscape Bernard Frieden and Lynn Sagalyn delve into the inner workings of the new public entrepreneurship and public private partnerships that have revitalized the downtowns of such cities as Boston, San Diego, Seattle, St. Paul, and Pasadena. They bring a unique combination of political and economic expertise to their analysis of this hot new marketplace, depicting a generation of mayors and administrators who differ in style from their predecessors and who have a more informed relationship with developers.

Downtown Inc. is a progress report on what has happened to our cities in the second half of this century, documenting new directions and more productive strategies for rebuilding downtown. Frieden and Sagalyn take a close look at the retail industry and illustrate how, in cities across the country, maverick developers and enterprising mayors found creative solutions to the problems presented by conservative lenders, political controversy, and shrinking Federal subsidies.

Substantial studies of four big city malls - Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston, Town Square in St. Paul, the Pike Place Market in Seattle, and Horton Plaza in San Diego - show in detail what it takes to succeed: a free wheeling entrepreneurial style, flexible deals, financing on the go, and design plans that change as needed. They also highlight the inventive designs that fit these projects into crowded downtowns, attracting record crowds to their doors, and show conversely how conflicts over Columbus Circle, Times Square, and Bryant Park in New York embody the problems that cities must overcome when they try to combine private profit with civic purpose.

Downtown Inc. surveys the results to date to see if there is a real agenda for downtown in the mix of convention centers, malls, stadiums, hotels, and promotional events. Besides the obvious successes of bringing in money and reversing decay in urban centers, Frieden and Sagalyn document the emergence of new downtown economies in New York, Pittsburgh, and other cities as major job centers for a broad cross section of people.

About the Authors

Bernard J. Frieden is Class of 1942 Professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT and Chairman of the MIT Faculty.

Lynne B. Sagalyn is the Earle W. Kazis and Benjamin Schore Director of the MBA Real Estate Program at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.


"Downtown, Inc. is a solid book with plenty of background . . . [Its] densely detailed case studies celebrate flexibility and innovation on both sides of the increasingly blurry public-private debate."
Harold Henderson, Planning

"Downtown, Inc. represents the most insightful commentary on up-to-the-minute urban development that has appeared to date. Moreover, this is a book in which the words 'government' and 'successful' actually appear in the same sentence."
Edward A. Schwartz, New York Times Book Review


"Frieden and Sagalyn have captured, in an authoritative and impressive way, the most significant developments in American city building over the last 15 years."
Robert Wood, Henry R. Luce Professor of Democratic Institutions and the Social Order, Wesleyan University

“An insightful analysis of downtown commercial redevelopment. Frieden and Sagalyn explore the process and effects of commercial revitalization with great wisdom and clarity.”
Daniel P. Moynihan, United States Senator from New York

“Successful cities have been the cutting edge of all successful societies. Downtown, Inc. is a very good analysis of what we know about what one does and does not do to create successful cities in the United States.”
Lester Thurow, Department of Economics, MIT

“Bernard Frieden and Lynne Sagalyn have written a most interesting account of the most interesting developments...They describe in this important contribution to urban studies how new mechanism for downtown developments were forged bringing together city governments and private developers, and brought to fruition developments in the 1980’s more successful as contributions to urban life and diversity than the projects of earlier years.
Nathan Glazer