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Mike Davis What City is Davis talking about? Why does he describe this city as a fortress?

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Presentation on theme: "Mike Davis What City is Davis talking about? Why does he describe this city as a fortress?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Mike Davis What City is Davis talking about? Why does he describe this city as a fortress?

2 Fortress Las Vegas Repressions in space and movement Private security Surveillance Barricade streets Militarization of city life Policing social boundaries Fortress cities divided between “fortified cells” of affluent society and ‘places of terror’

3 System that calculates the interests of the urban poor and the middle classes as a zero-sum game. Policies not related to personal safety but rather personal insulation from unsavory groups and individuals, even crowds.

4 The destruction of public space Elimination of parks, privatization of parks New class war Pedestrian democracy: Traditional pedestrian links to certain parts of downtown were removed Police failings – leads to spatial security “Redevelopment” reproduces spatial apartheid

5 From rent-a-cop to Robocop Gated communities, closing of parks, privatization of parks, block off streets high tech security systems in private and public areas Panopticons shopping malls Space police: Racial profiling (city of hope)



8 Natural factors (Edward C. Banfield) Demographic - population growth (cities need to expand outward to find housing for their citizens. migration in & out of the city led to the massive growth of cities, overcrowding and eventual decline and out migration of urban central cities. This in turn lead to the growth and prosperity of suburban areas but also eventually led to congestion, urban sprawl and other problems faced by central cities. Technological (street cars, automobile, highways, sky scrapers) allows citizens to live outside of the central city but still work there. Economic- Manufacturing jobs moving oversees. Service sector industries don't need to be located in central city. ATT telephone operators, telemarketing can be housed almost anywhere. low skilled clerical work. Good blue colar jobs are gone. Unemployment increases, tax base decreases. Middle class migrates out. Natural resources - (oil, water, canals, etc.)

9 Unnatural factors Mumford and Bickford – cities, their structures and makeup are not natural but rather a product of decisions made by government and economic elites.

10 Federal Housing Policy: FHA and VA insure home loans (like our insured student loans). Discriminatory policies: redlining poor and minority areas. Maintaining segregated communities through loan practices and restrictive covenants. Providing loans to safe bets.

11 Why? did a government agency do this? A lot of government agencies and most politicians come from the business community. They are not political science academics, or community activists or constitutional law scholars. They are businessmen who are concerned with profit and benefiting their business partners. Bureaucracies have a life of their own and are often CAPTURED by business interests. After the urban riots in the 1960s the FHA started to reform its practices and a majority of its loan guarantees were in central cities.

12 Highways: The highway act of 1944 gave hundreds of millions of dollars to build highways. The National Defense Highway act of 1956 paid for 90% of highway construction costs. This makes the creation and growth of suburbs possible The building of highways were always through poor neighborhoods. This destroyed ghettos but also viable working class neighborhoods (the Cross Bronx Express). Up on high rises example. The Military: Twenty-nine palms, Vegas

13 Local Policies 1) Zoning and land use policies (Yonkers suburb of NY would not allow the building of low or moderate income housing.) 2) Segregated public housing 3) Residential and business segregation (making it necessary to own a car) 4) Urban renewal (with federal funds and legitamacy that comes from federal backing) local elites used the term "urban renewal" to kick poor minorities out of the central cities. Mayor Loveridge and the motels).

14 Competition between Cities Richard Wade’s article examines city behavior in the 19 th Century (Pittsburgh, Lexington, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis) Each one was trying to promote growth, growth of the population, of the economy, at the expense of other towns and cities. Mostly through advertising and propaganda since they had little collective governmental capacity.

15 Private Power We can’t forget the incentives that private investors have to shape the environment. Owners of mills and industries sent recruiters to the South to hire poor black tenant farmers luring them to the city with promises of prosperity.

16 Private cities: Hershey, PA, City of Industry, CA; Levittown (PA-NY-NJ); (Levitt and Sons firm) - despite the popularity of some types of housing units these firms built them a way that made it easier to sell and to manage. Banks and Realtors: Redlining, racial steering, blockbusting and panic selling, manipulation of FHA loans Community reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977 provided information about where their loans are going to (public disclosure). Free market efficiency - full information Urban Renewal: eminent domain - take land from the poor and give to the rich at a fraction of the cost; Gentrification (kicking out the poor for the upper-middle class.

17 POLITICAL ECONOMIC HISTORY OF CITIES The interaction of private power and government, the public sphere with the marketplace.

18 Mercantile cities - Trading centers; Dominated by small group of elites. Early role of government: promote business opportunity. - how to do that: help remove physical barriers. Erie canal, railroad Machine politics; industrial revolution, changes in voting requirements, immigration changed the politics of cities. More democratic in a sense, but lots of corruption (late 19 th Century to Mid 20 th Century) Reform politics: Take power away from city hall. Insulate political institutions from electorate - reduce democratic influence. Run government like a business. But if you give business interests the power that government institutions have they will abuse it. (early 20 th Century)

19 What do urban scholars study?

20 Urban Literature in Political Science? The City-State: Aristotle polis Political machines in the early 1900s Influence and democracy in the 1960s (Dahl; Banfield; Hunter) Race relations in the 1970-80s

21 Redefining Urban Politics Steady decline in urban areas Host of new suburban jurisdictions/overlapping limited polities By 1990 one in two Americans live in suburbs Outward movement of jobs, economic activity, public investment, football teams (NY Giants – New Jersey)

22 Political Science in the 1980s and 1990s Explaining urban decline: massive population shifts staggering job losses racial strife fiscal crisis.

23 Skewed Understaning? What about rural areas? Regional Government? Preoccupation with big cities

24 New Trends in Urban Political Science: old wine in a new bottle What does urban scholarship look like in the new millennium? Taking the politics out of city government Treating cities as corporations Privatization of services Implications? What’s good for business is good for the city

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