AMERICAN CITIES: Their Historical and Social Development by Edwin Hoag

AMERICAN CITIES: Their Historical and Social Development

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The imposing subtitle notwithstanding, this consists primarily of milestones, statistics and standard simplicisms (like the connection between urban growth and ""better transportation"" on which much of this depends--incontrovertible but not very revealing). An introductory section summarizes the history of cities from the first settlements to the Renaissance in approximately twelve pages (excluding pictures). Then we have sketchy, quite elementary profiles of the five leading colonial cities (New York, Boston, Newport, Charleston, Philadelphia), and, motivated most significantly by ""gains in transportation,"" the emergence of new centers between the Revolution and the Civil War--especially Baltimore, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Cincinnati, St. Louis. Each is covered in two to three pages except when the author includes the observations of visiting Europeans (more telling than the narrative as to life and times). Factors of growth are less precise than the omnipresent population statistics (e.g. re St. Louis: ""Manufacturing and other industries developed""). Included in the same chapter is brief mention of many, many other places from Buffalo to San Francisco to Atlanta. After the Civil War we leave individual cities to look at urban America as a whole and, because so much of America was urban, at a shifting panorama that includes architecture, education, sports, mores, misgovernment--everything up to the flight from the inner cities to the suburbs in about thirty pages. Again excluding the illustrations, and partly on purpose: many are not dated, none of the sources are given, and there's a disproportionate number of airviews with little value. A muzzy book altogether.

Pub Date: April 11th, 1969
Publisher: Lippincott