Urban Lowlands: A History of Neighborhoods, Poverty, and Planning
by Steven T. Moga
University of Chicago Press, 2020
Cloth: 978-0-226-71053-2 | eISBN: 978-0-226-71067-9
Library of Congress Classification HT167.M628 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 307.12160973

In Urban Lowlands, Steven T. Moga looks closely at the Harlem Flats in New York City, Black Bottom in Nashville, Swede Hollow in Saint Paul, and the Flats in Los Angeles, to interrogate the connections between a city’s actual landscape and the poverty and social problems that are often concentrated at its literal lowest points. Taking an interdisciplinary perspective on the history of US urban development from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, Moga reveals patterns of inequitable land use, economic dispossession, and social discrimination against immigrants and minorities. In attending to the landscapes of neighborhoods typically considered slums, Moga shows how physical and policy-driven containment has shaped the lives of the urban poor, while wealth and access to resources have been historically concentrated in elevated areas—truly “the heights.” Moga’s innovative framework expands our understanding of how planning and economic segregation alike have molded the American city.

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