Leading American Metros
December 13, 2010 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Can you suggest a book or article that discusses the rise of America's leading metropolitan areas?

I am looking for an easy read that covers urban planning, class matters, etc. For instance, the book might discuss the events that led to the building of the city's skyline or the roles of the elite in encouraging innovation.

An ideal piece of literature would discuss the growth of the areas in terms of what they all have in common.
posted by jne1813 to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The Power Broker, covering Robert Moses' ascendant New York, is a classic. It's definitely more biographically focused, but certainly covers planning and class issues within its (very large, 1300+ page) scope.
posted by The Michael The at 7:54 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Making of Urban America might serve your interest. It was a resource book in an urban planning course I took back in the mid-90s, and I remember it being pretty informative.
posted by paulsc at 7:56 AM on December 13, 2010

Two that come to mind: Nature's Metropolis (about Chicago) and Imperial San Francisco. They're not "quick reads," because they're detailed, but they're good. They focus on the role of natural resource extraction in the rise of those cities. The former is better known and by a leader in the field.

Another great classic in urban planning history is Cities of Tomorrow. Planetizen.com lists top planning books, so you might look through those lists for other suggestions, though their interests are not exclusively on historical or class-based analysis of cities' rise, so you might also search through forums about urban geography or environmental history.
posted by salvia at 8:12 AM on December 13, 2010

It's an oldie but goody - have you read The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs?
posted by mskyle at 9:42 AM on December 13, 2010

Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class talks about how the most vibrant American cities are so because of their ability to attract creative, innovative people. Fascinating book. Excerpt here from the Washington Monthly.

I also second The Death and Life of Great American Cities, one of my favourite books, period.
posted by so much modern time at 10:31 AM on December 14, 2010

Thirding The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Then read The Economy of Cities, also by Jane Jacobs.
posted by heatherann at 4:02 PM on December 14, 2010

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