For those who believe the success of cities stands at the bedrock of the health of the country or at least those interested in the historical, political and financial aspects of that argument, Here's the Deal
is necessary reading. Ross Miller, a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Connecticut and nephew of playwright Arthur Miller
, traces the politics of city revitalization in Chicago from the 1950s to the 1990s. Any book about Chicago politics is, by definition, rife with power making and brokering, and this work is no exception, focusing on the story of a gutted block in the city and the deals between politicians and developers to resuscitate it.
From Publishers Weekly
A vacant, three-acre block sits in the heart of downtown Chicago, still a gaping chasm six years after its "mad mix of high and low" stores, professional offices, retailers, theaters and seedy enterprises were demolished to make way for skyscrapers and gleaming emporiums. In an involving cautionary tale of greed, wheeling and dealing and shameful neglect of the public interest, Miller (American Apocalypse: The Great Fire and the Myth of Chicago) traces the seeds of this fiasco to Mayor Richard Daley, who, beginning in the 1960s, endorsed the bulldozing of once-vital neighborhoods. The author faults a series of six regimes, including those of Chicago's first female mayor, Jane Byrne, and its first black chief executive, Harold Washington, for devising the category "economic blight," which permitted them to condemn commercial property, remove title from its owners and trade the property to speculators and land pirates who promised jobs and fatter tax rolls. FJV, the company committed to develop Block 37 since 1983, took seven years to get started after protests and lawsuits from preservationists, but the project, according to Miller, fell victim to the office building glut, the overdevelopment craze and a credit crunch. Photos.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.