City and Regional Planning

Lizabeth Cohen

Thursday, November 12, 2020 6:00pm
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Lizabeth Cohen, Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies, Dept. of History, and Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, will speak on “Saving America’s Cities: A New Look at Urban Renewal” on Thursday, November 12th at 6pm. Following her talk, Professor Cohen will be joined by Professor Francesca Russello Ammon and Professor Vincent Reina, both of the Department of City & Regional Planning at the Weitzman School of Design, for a conversation about cities and housing, past and present

Urban Renewal of the 1950s through 1970s has acquired a very poor reputation, much of it deserved. But reducing it to an unchanging story of urban destruction misses some important legacies and genuinely progressive goals. Those include efforts to create more socially mixed communities, to involve suburbs—not just cities–in solving metropolitan inequality, and most importantly, to hold the federal government responsible for funding more affordable housing and other urban investments, rather than turn to the private sector. Cohen will revisit this history by following the long career of Edward J. Logue, who worked to revitalize New Haven in the 1950s, became the architect of the “New Boston” in the 1960s, and later led innovative organizations in New York at the state level and in the South Bronx. She will analyze the evolution in Logue’s thinking and actions, when and how he met resistance and accommodation by communities, and what he and many others who cared about cities learned in facing the challenges of urban revitalization during the suburban boom of the second half of the 20th century.

Lizabeth Cohen is the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies and a Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of History at Harvard. From 2011-18 she was the dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. In addition to Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age, which recently won the 2020 Bancroft Prize in American History, previous books include Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939, also winner of the Bancroft Prize and a finalist for the Pulitzer, and A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America. Her writings have appeared as well in many edited volumes, academic journals, and popular venues, including The Atlantic, New York Times, the Washington Post, and the American Prospect.