Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City (Politics and Culture in Modern America)

4.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0812240702
ISBN-10: 0812240707
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Trade in your item
Get a $2.00
Gift Card.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
More Buying Choices
2 New from $179.60 20 Used from $38.93
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Prime Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews


"Colin Gordon combines intellectual rigor, a compelling argument, and extensive archival research with the latest geographic information system digital mapping techniques. Dozens of color maps, together with numerous figures and tables, allow the reader to examine the data with fresh eyes. Gordon's focus on a single city, a single neighborhood (Greater Ville), and even a single house (4635 North Market Street) gives his comprehensive analysis an immediacy and power that it might otherwise lack. And the prose is so thoughtful, so well written, and so engaged with recent scholarship that scholars on the topic will be fascinated."—Kenneth Jackson, Political Science Quarterly

"Knowledgeably argued, exhaustively researched, and accessibly written, Gordon's book also employs the latest in digital mapping technology. . . . For brick-and-mortar urban specialists . . . Mapping Decline is nothing short of monumental."—Urban History

"A searing indictment of policymakers, realtors, and mortgage lenders for deliberate decisions that sacrificed their own city of St. Louis on the altar of race. Colin Gordon's use of cartography to visualize this painful pattern of injustice and bad sense is a forceful exemplar for a new kind of history: one told visually as well as textually; analyzed spatially as well as chronologically. Written with empathy, Mapping Decline is a new milestone on the road toward a necessary reckoning of the precise responsibility for the extended urban crises of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries."—Philip J. Ethington, University of Southern California

"Colin Gordon has infused the 'old' story of urban decline with new energy and urgency. His mapping of St. Louis's evolution is a powerful indictment of the distorting, segregating, and wasteful effects of public policy over several generations. Yet the book is not just about history. Incredibly, as Gordon shows, current national and state policies and governmental fragmentation continue to undermine the recover of American cities at the precise moment when they matter again—economically, environmentally, and socially."—Bruce Katz, The Brookings Institution

About the Author

Colin Gordon is Professor of History at The University of Iowa and author of Dead on Arrival: The Politics of Health Care in Twentieth- Century America and New Deals: Business, Labor, and Politics in America, 1920-1935.

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Politics and Culture in Modern America
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (April 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812240707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812240702
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,156,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jason Stokes VINE VOICE on January 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Colin Gordon has put together an excellent reference for those interested in the economic history of St. Louis over the last 80 years, but with lessons that could easily apply to any other central city in the United States. We've all seen anecdotal evidence of these problems in run-down inner city neighborhoods, empty buildings in inner suburbs, and gleaming new parking lots in the outer suburbs, but Gordon uses data to back up these assumptions.

The book is roughly 1/2 maps and 1/2 text - and strikes the right balance at that. The maps serve to illustrate visually the scope and scale of "white flight," poor planning decisions, and the lunacy of a fractured metro government. While the city atrophies, suburbs further and further away compete for the same employers, the same stores, and the same residents.

While Gordon shies from making many overall conclusions based on the data and focuses more on presenting the history of what happened - this book provides a model blueprint for civic, business, and academic leaders to understand what to avoid in promoting "growth."
Comment 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mapping Decline does that and much more, following and explaining how St. Louis fell from the fourth largest U.S. city in 1910 to the 48th largest in 2000 and how the population fell from a high of over 800,000 in the 1940s to about 350,000 in 2000. Gordon's history rings true. His tale of racism, lack of leadership, suburban distrust of the city, political fragmentation, and mis-use of federal and state policies led policy makers across metroploitan St. Louis to ignore deteriorating residential neighborhoods to chase after high income residents and commercial development, assist developers rather than residents, and become more concerned with capturing taxes and jobs from neighboring municipalities than the good of the metropolitan area or its less-than-upper-middle class residents.

I am a native of St. Louis and an urban economist. I knew much of what Gordon writes, but it was great to have it all in one place and nicely tied together. Except for the chapter on the ever-evolving post-WWII urban renewal programs, the book reads easily, though the message is painful. His maps are useful, though those not familar with St. Louis geography will probably want to have a road atlas or GIS website handy. The message is important to anyone interested in the modern American city.
Comment 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, though well-written and quite interesting, is as difficult and disturbing to read as your best friend's obituary, if, like me, you grew up in Saint Louis during the '40's and '50's, that city's last two decades of greatness - "First in booze, first in shoes, last in the American League" - before its decline into its current level of inconsequentiality. The population loss has been so great that, the last time that I was in my old neighborhood, the few houses still standing on my old block, though long-abandoned, still had the glass in their windows. The neighborhood is so deserted and empty that it lacks even vandals. I was surprised that I could see the Arch from in front of my former house. Then it struck me: there was not a single tree left standing anywhere, where once there was a virtual forest of London plane trees, spaced so tightly that nearly every house was shaded by its own tree.
The book tells how now-clearly-stupid decisions, some made back in the 19th C., almost inevitably led to to the death of the modern city. The decision to stick with the steamboat and block easy access to the city by railroads, the decision to make the city into a political entity separate from St. Louis County, yet forcing it to maintain the usual political entities needed by a county, but of no consequence to a city, e.g. there is a Sheriff of St. Louis County and a Sheriff of the City of Saint Louis, in addition to the expected Chief of Police usual in cities.
The book is centered around the history of a single house, located in my former neighborhood and once occupied by a family with whom I was personally acquainted.
Anyone interested in the history of a city and the social, political, and real-estate manipulations that brought it to its metaphorical knees and then killed it will find this book unputdownable.
Comment 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
I received this book as promised in the condition promised. The vendor gets an A+

As for the book itself, it is an excellent work that provides the reader with a good understanding of the factors contributing to urban decay in the St Louis Metro Area. I actually live in North St Louis only blocks away from the property that the author uses as his anchor point in this book. I've lived in the metro area my entire life and can certainly vouch for the veracity of this book. The area really does look that bad in places and the racism and systemic dysfunction have been truly as bad as the book implies. In some ways they still are.

While the population of St Louis city has declined over the last 60-70 years, the population of the metro area has stagnated as a whole. There is no dynamism here. The people of St Louis have only spread themselves out over the region leaving the poor and dysfunctional behind to rot. None of the systemic problems of the city have been fixed. None of the systemic problems of the region have been fixed. The wealthy and solidly middle class of St Louis have, for the most part, simply moved away to places they could more easily exclude those they consider poor or less desirable. Don't get me wrong, St Louis has great people and great places, but the region could be so much better with good leadership and an establishment that wasn't sclerotic and corrupt.

While I knew quite a bit about the story of my city, for me this book shed new light on the details of the part that racism, corruption, and poor implementation of public policy played in creating the problems the city now suffers from.

What I can add to that is my perception that the continued lack of desire to fix these problems is what largely causes them to persist.
Read more ›
1 Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews