Sep 21 2014

Downtown America by Alison Isenberg

Published by at 9:08 pm under Reflection Blog

In Downtown America, Alison Isenberg touches on many of the same points that Strasser did in Satisfaction Guaranteed. However, Strasser gave a straight-forward historical account focused on the American mass market, while Isenberg offers much more of a social and economic analysis of the history of “Downtown” in America.

In the first five chapters, Isenberg covers the chronological development of Downtown as we know it today. She spends a lot of time discussing gender issues, such as the heavy involvement of women’s clubs and the various relations with men’s clubs, from cooperation to clashing. She offers detailed descriptions of women’s work in the beautification of cities and their expectation that their campaigns would educate and motivate the public. Isenberg also tracks urban development trends, from the rise of subdivisions in the 1920s to the push for redevelopment in the 1950s. And she mentions marketing trends, from post cards to plate glass store fronts, which is where her text parallels Strasser’s the most.

My focus is in Urban Studies and I am very interested in both the positive and negative effects of development and redevelopment, so I enjoyed the first part of Isenberg’s book, especially Chapter 5 where she directly addresses urban renewal.

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