A Good Place to Do Business: The Politics of Downtown Renewal Since 1945
Since World War II the old industrial cities of the northeast and Midwest USA have repeatedly sought to end periods of decline by seeking to renew their downtowns. Convention centers, sports stadiums, hospitals, and tourist-oriented investment have all been deployed in an effort to restore a tax base and reinvigorate urban areas. Just as repeatedly the efforts have failed to bring benefits to the residents of these cities, especially African Americans.
Mark Rose, Professor of History at Florida Atlantic University, talks with Roger Horowitz about these dynamics, drawing on his recent book A Good Place to Do Business: The Politics of Downtown Renewal Since 1945 co-authored Roger Biles. Their book chronicles efforts to reinvigorate the downtowns of major American cities in order to reverse the process of urban decline focusing on St. Louis, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland. As city officials and business elites determined to reorganize their downtowns, deeply racialized politics sacrificed neighborhoods and the livelihoods of those pushed out. Yet, as Professor Rose explains, often than not costly efforts to bring about the hoped-for improvements failed to revitalize those cities, or even their downtowns. It is a telling story, one with relevance for those living and working in Northern Delaware.