- 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: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,309,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City (Politics and Culture in Modern America)
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"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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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."
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.
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.