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tv   Lizabeth Cohen Saving Americas Cities  CSPAN  November 28, 2019 3:29am-4:36am EST

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>> it is time to begin there is a number of familiar faces.
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if this is the first time for you to visit a special welcome to you. we have a fabulous library which is available to the public for research this evening tony from the historical society will do the honors so we'll take a moment to greet everyone and now we will turn it over to tony. [applause] >> thank you gavin has put on a number of programs here including some definitive conversations well over a year ago which is where i first met him. it's a pleasure for me to have
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the task of introducing. before i began it's a lifetime of a career based in the premise vital to civilization and i think liz has captured that i will tell you one story about ed how i felt about him. the first time i met him i was about 25 years old the first week in the urban development corporation although i knew the agency and very anxious to go to work for him again. it happened on a very odd day
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we were working at the burlington house we were the only tenants in the building at the time because the fisher brothers couldn't find anybody else to be set a very difficult time of year. so they elected to sign a lease with the state agency. but that particular day that had run a front-page story to set up the private building from the 46th floor. [laughter] and to say the least it's no
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more than what you would know about if you read the book but everybody has a newspaper. i never met ed and i said to him out of brashness this story isn't right. how does it make you feel to work here? he looked at me and put his hand on my shoulder and said it supposed to make you feel that way. [laughter] that's what he felt about the people who worked for him. which is not to say he was easy to work for.
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receiving a/d from princeton university and phd at university of california berkeley in 1986 she became assistant professor at carnegie mellon and then a full professor in 1997 the history department and the professor of american studies 2011 in addition became dean of the ratcliff institute a job she did through 2018. i don't see anything here about the new york post here. [laughter] her books include making a deal which won the bancroft prize the other was a consumers republic which is a
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widely used college. and matt which she co-authored is also a member of the american academy of arts and sciences. reading this book from cover to cover it has 115 pages of footnotes. there is more content and fun in those than any book i had ever written. these are stories in and of themselves. [applause] >> thank you very much. one to say is the headline of the office in new york talk about it and i just want to
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thank tony for not only introducing me today but giving me many hours of interviews and you will see if you read the book how much i depend on his memory and his take and analysis of what went on in that. it's very nice to be here. thank you for coming. i see a lot of familiar faces which is wonderful. i look forward to sharing with you this book i have worked on for a long time as you know because people who have been very helpful to me over the years it has been approximately 14 years working on this book delayed a seven years by that deanship at the ratcliff institute. it was a delay that when i
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look back i think it was an inspiration in many ways because it did encourage me to value writing for a broad public because we did a lot of public programming at radcliffe. i want to start by giving you some background via wrote the book. i'm not a biographer. social political historian of the united states in the 20th century. this is a very different kind of book than what i have written before. is this on? i don't think i see the green light to that i saw before when we were testing this.
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so this is a very different kind of book than what i wrote befor before. is my early work as a social historian with groups of ordinary americans first and second generation factory workers, african-americans middle-class homeowners and consumers and so forth and that kind of history is referred to as history from the bottom up but you might wonder why i did a biography about a powerful white mail like ed. i decided i wanted to write a
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book for world war ii cities and i want to grapple with the changing environment as well as how those changes came about and with the book's introduction i aim to understand who should have a say and who benefits and who pays the bill for quite determined focusing someone who is personally engaged with the struggle to revitalize those postwar cities when mass suburbia was booming the way to frame the book and engage readers and what i thought was an important story. consequently we became attracted to the new challenge to put in the power at the center of my book and as i was writing history from the top down with the analysis that social historians have with
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the importance of social identities with race and ethnicity in professions perk when my previous book the politics of mass consumption i wrote a rather - - wrote about the rise of mass suburbia. and then the landscape of mass construction of new housing developments and the rise of sharp shopping centers and the intersection with the highway. so i surmise and then they are displaced. in what became saving america's cities with that
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decentralization for what it actually meant for cities. with that odorous - - older established ones. and now in this post world war ii. and how postwar cities had developed essentially dismissing all efforts with the disastrous urban renewal. that seem to equate all intervention with the villain notorious as robert moses and by contrast the idea of postwar cities by the more saintly jacobs with the message of anti- planning and hands-off let neighborhoods
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and cities develop organically on their own. shirley i thought the story must be more complicated than extreme positions. i certainly know 40's through the seventies had some flaws such as excessive demolition and dislocation of residence often african-americans and a problematic belief in separating the residences work with retail and those schemes on downtown and highways that go through neighborhoods. but on the other hand i also knew that many were truly in trouble and in need of help. with half from the great depression followed by the deprivation of wartime with
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leaving people and jobs and much more to the suburbs. my final motivation to write this book was that as a city dweller and city lover i was increasingly alarmed with what i was seeing around me the shocking deterioration of the urban infrastructure as well as a worsening crisis of affordable housing. to the point low-rent apartments are fast disappearing evictions are growing in more than one third of american households pay over 30 percent of their income on shelter and in many parts of this country people pay over 50 percent. moore over a drastic divide has developed between cities that are flourishing in failing. we have the haves and the have-nots.
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and then to make us of mass transit. with roads and bridges and tunnels and then to at least assert of 1949 to provide a decent home for free american family. and probing how we got to this place. so why ed? i started to look around for an ideal subject and i had a checklist. but most importantly i saw an individual whose life would allow me to tell to intertwining stories how a person and a nation went about to revitalize american cities
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and the mutual influence they had on each other and on american cities. it didn't take me along to stumble upon ed i knew from a book in history he had a great moment in the sixties to turn around the long deteriorating process but then i discovered he had left an enormous stash of papers at yale and had given many interviews over the years so i could hear his own voice even though he was no longer alive nobody else was writing a book about him and i did some checking to be sure. there were those who considered it that many of his associates i am pleased to say quite a number of them are here tonight were still very much alive and in touch with
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each other and even launched a website called friends of ed long - - ed logue so thank you again for that. i was also fortunate that ed logue family was still around and supportive of my book without being intrusive and generous with their memories and contacts and family peepers per cry would figure out the span of his career offered me an amazing way to track urban redevelopment over four decades with his work in new haven in the sixties and boston in the sixties new york state through the sixties or seventies. the last years of his life with the urban redevelopment
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to try unsuccessfully to write a memoir and then he died in 2000 at his vineyard at the age of not quite 79. so why is ed logue a compelling protagonist? he grew up caring about cities born in 1821 and raised in philadelphia one of five children of a widowed kindergarten teacher with not much final resource on - - financial resources went to yale on the scholarship on the g.i. bill he became engaged with the city of new haven and that's how he got to know in the yale dining hall and later organized into the labor union
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then married the daughter of the dean of yale college and then admired by some to be deeply disliked by others and most comfortable to be what i describe as a rebel in the belly of the establishment. what i mean over his lifetime at the bastions of power. and logue became committed to renewing cities as progressive politics running counter to many assumptions that we make with urban renewal and
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portrayed as part of that work machine with that investment and logue stood in stark contrast working as a labor organizer and trained as a lawyer but those discriminatory quotas that white not black america had a race problem to overcome and add a private sector would do anything but prioritize to serve the public interest. in the late forties and fifties and that would be the net next frontier of franklin roosevelt and expert know-how. in to save america's city. and then the public sector must control it.
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>> he was early in his career believing to have larger social and political benefits and discovered this in a surprising way. serving a special assistant and then was a new dealer from teddy roosevelt from the administration to observe the us government to invest what was called community development to improve the infrastructure rivers and wells and housing in hopes of creating a more equal and democratic and importantly to them the communist india. then what was called the third
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world in american cities that's not what we assume with influence and this is the first example how they learned and the transnational circulation with planning and architecture. he learned many things and very much influenced taking place in europe and later taken with the creation of european new towns with a strategy that followed world war ii in many european countries. and upon returning in 1953 he began a career in urban we development to unfold over four decades as a follow the
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personal story in the book we see the urban renewal process was not at all static but would continue to change over time with different approaches in response to its own failures to shift the national policy and to implement with these progressive ideas so urban renewal is not the one huge disaster but a much more complex evolutionary response. going through all the details so i should say my notes are as robust as they are my editor said you have to cut 30000 words.
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so it's good he told me to do that and the book is better for that but a lot of it ended up in the footnotes. [laughter] but i will give to you the highlights act i is new haven. 1954 through 61 logue teamed up with a newly reform democratic mayor to turn around the city old industries were closing many were not feeling very loyal to new haven this was leading to the disappearance of many good working-class jobs this was happening just as african-americans had hopes of making a better living. at the same time middle-class white residents moving to the suburbs with other aspects of modern living quite explicitly
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to field one - - flee the city and finally the i 95 highway that they knew would be a deathknell and a retail center for the region already facing competition from new shopping centers. so the important point is cities were truly struggling. logue agenda use newly available federal funding from the acts of 1949 to make new haven a national laboratory for physical renewal as well as innovative social programs many of which like neighborhood legal services and job training would actually pave their way into society. in the end new haven got more
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dollars from the federal government than any other city per capita and was used as ground zero for urban renewal. there were some successes but overall the first phase of urban renewal was problematic. is new haven and many other american cities for many reasons i go into in the book. most egregiously the urban renewal here and elsewhere tore down a poor but viable low income neighborhood to put up apartments aimed at keeping the middle-class in the city and a highway to connect downtown to i-95 and introduced a car oriented shopping center into downtown. i also probed the way urban renewal consulted with community residents and i discovered they felt they were
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democratically minded experts protecting the public good but their approach sought input for him representatives of the special interest groups and community organizers i call it that pluralist democracy drawn from analysis that robert dall developed in his classic work which is based on the new haven renewal that summer. so i conclude phase one during the fifties had a massive clearance and pluralist democratic form of communication was deeply flawed so many other cities including boston with the destruction of the immigrant west and follow the same pattern. act ii was boston. 1960 through 67. 1960 logue was hired as a consultant and then head of
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the boston redevelopment authority by another new mayor this time john collins who had visions to turn around his own near bankrupt and politically paralyzed city. in boston logue learned his mistakes from new haven and those taken place under the previous mayor to come in waving a flag of planning with people and vowed never to undertake the kind of demolition that happened of the west and neighborhood. by then two dimensions were boston and the neighborhoods. the heart of downtown was the creation of government center to revitalize the stagnant downtown and to pressure a reluctant yankee business and lead to finally commit to the city that they had been
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ignoring for decades investing elsewhere and anywhere but boston and seeking to control boston democratic party machine from the massachusetts state house. the government center creation story is fascinating where boston collins made federal use of power as the boston globe wrote in 1962 with the plans for city hall, nothing but a wholehearted affirmation of a new time in new social needs a new technology and aesthetics where faith in the civic instrument of government". and the architect of city hall this modernist design says that message with the integrity of government. as the architect but it many years later he and his partners had a tremendous
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feeling government wasn't just a benevolent institution but the institution for social change. city hall should be the people's palace and the simple one - - symbol of urban government the project marks another crucial evolution and here he came to recognize the importance of preserving the structure like quincy market to have a historic and modern building that still characterizes boston today. he also learned he need to broaden the base of support for his program and had he sought a wide range of influential allies including the catholic churc church, newspapers like the boston globe, retail leaders like the president of jordan
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marsh, architects and the black middle class and those who could own houses and very few boston neighborhoods and to bring attention with open arms. those efforts to revitalize boston's other neighborhoods for more downtown in washington park so just as they had to negotiate he also had to negotiate with the key neighborhood groups i look at five boston neighborhoods washington park and madison park, charlestown south and in north harvard area. what i discovered is every neighborhood has its own story. added to its base in class
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plays an important role that the outcome i learned is much more complicated and varied than the common assumption of urban renewal can simply be reduced to a middle-class grabbing neighborhoods from lower-class blacks. moreover i argue over the course of these years through the urban renewable renewal experienced neighborhood residents felt the important skills of negotiating with officials one observer at the time was an mit graduate student later became a professor called the rehabilitation planning game. boston citizens would apply the skills to gain more affordable housing and to beat the highway project in the seventies.
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these experiences of fighting renewal contributed to a new expectation of that city redevelopment should entail as other social movements like civil rights and antiwar politics and grassroots participatory democracy's became a requirement. this marked a very big shift from community consultation to a pluralist democracy. and then to be widely credited with the new boston and those ended to have a failed effort in 1967 when collins announced he was stepping down and had had enough it became clear that logue would be very
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better suited for the back office he was a terrible campaigner but also suffered from a ten person race the front runner was a school segregationist who encouraged her opponent to rally around one candidate who was the well-known senator from massachusetts. act iii new york state. 1968 through 75. his next act came about when liberal republican governor rockefeller was frustrated with the difficulty to get new york state voters to approve bond issues would require to build subsidized housing in the state so he came up with a workaround the state wide urban renewal super agency and
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hired ed logue to head it and i do have a line in the book i and the chapter after the election that logue is in position and to be the assistant and she knocks on the door and says the governor is on the phone and ed says which governor and she says rockefeller. is called the new york state urban development corporation and funded by a combination of state funds mingling federal dollars and a very unique move to allow bonds to be sold to private investors and in recognition of the difficulty of this job rockefeller gave logue tremendous authority to acquire property through eminent domain and most controversial to override
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zoning and building codes that were outdated. getting the state legislature was difficult was not easy particularly the parts of overwriting zoning. but it only came about reluctantly when they argued after mlk was assassinated new york needed a true memorial made not a stone but of action and it should also be said rockefeller was very good at twisting arms. the udc had many successes building 33 units of housing over six and a half years and brought alternatives to demolition style renewal by creating towns on undeveloped land on upstate new york and roosevelt island in new york city and then the planned mixed income mixed race
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communities and then with innovative architectural designs such as lowrise high density alternative high-rise public housing. want to point out the picture on the upper right in the corner since tony at a discussion about this new housing village that was to be a high lowrise density project also you could see affirmative-action hiring in the state but it came tumbling down when logue tried to build modest amounts of affordable housing and nine well off westchester suburban communities what he called the fair share housing program and then to make things even more difficult nixon turned off the federal spigot to implement a moratorium on all spending on
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housing as part of his new federalist agenda to reduce the role of the federal government program as a result the udc came to a dramatic collapse including bankers handling the bond fails to put the social mission before its responsibility of investors. february 1975 udc defaulted on loans and logue was forced to resign with great anger and frustration as he put it it was too good to last that's why i so cordially dislike bankers bankers that i was involved in social engineering i was very proud of the fact that was a total piece of social engineering. the final act you are watching this man as he ages through
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life now in the south bronx 78 through 85 he became president of the sbd oh last major urban redevelopment job here he sought to rehabilitate himself after the udc spectacular failure also to rehabilitate one of the poorest areas in the nation with the funding the smallest ever at his disposal nixon's qaeda federal appropriations for cities and housing continued under carter and then a huge dive under reagan. 1981 and 1987 federal housing programs were slashed by two thirds more than any other part of reagan's budget several governments are going out of business to support urban redevelopment others were actively promoting private market solutions.
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as president of the small scrappy group logue constantly scrambled for resources shifting strategy out of necessity often seeking ways to take advantage of the new orientation of private market solutions by having industrial parks in partnering with private lenders the signature program consisted of 90 ranch style fabricated single-family homes constructed in the middle of one of the most troubled neighborhoods in new york city heavily subsidized for purchase with the goal of attracting lower-class home owners to revitalize that multifamily rental housing is expected to follow. to the surprise of many skeptics that was a huge success with hundreds of black and puerto rican residents
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, transit workers and security guards nurses and teachers eager to buy the suburban house that they could not afford or was not available to them as people of color as the new york white suburban communities paragraph few aspects are worth mentioning. here clearly and regretfully a man in his previous prioritizing of architectural design in favor of conventional style that gave local suppliers and since other housing in the bronx provided a blueprint for a ten year housing plan that followed that with the two several hundred thousand units of housing and third after a
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long career of paying lip service to planning with people here in the south bronx he actually did it working closely with community planning boards like the mid- bronx desperados that came to recognize how necessary they and their constituents were to achieving success. in conclusion let me highlight a few takeaways from the deep dive of his career. first overtime logue learned a lesson that many others learned that the work of the urban redevelopment expert where he had worked extremely hard during the fifties and sixties to promote had serious limitations. more grassroots participation by community members but how to avoid the one single
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quarter of the city without considering the whole of the city remains a challenge for cities today. how we can learn planning a neighborhood or city's future requires that all interest are at the table officials at all levels planners and architects and investors. second throughout logue career he struggled to figure out ways that proved very difficult for him and still very hard for us. first, how to create socially diverse communities we felt deeply the best insurance that often minorities would get decent and equitable services school and transportation as well as greater opportunities for the future for themselves and their children.
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in a society where your residential location dictated your chances and middle-class life is best positioned to demand the best he was in socially integrated communities but frequently lacked the tools and until today we struggle how to keep existing residents and neighborhoods how to provide sufficient numbers of section a vouchers for those who want to move to better serve communities or break the larger scale requirements those of market rate housing must include affordable units the other hard nut to crack is full metropolitan areas with schooling and other problems
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while trying to make this happen hoping that finally getting to this statewide position he can make this happen in new york state but in the end that contributed to the downfall and i would say metropolitan problem-solving remains elusive today. finally the greatest disappointment was a decline of the role on the responsibility particularly at the federal level to finance the revitalizing of cities through subsidizing of affordable housing over his career he watched responsibility shift in the private sector that he considered a very serious mistake he anticipated what we encountered that cities are forced to cost deals that make
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an burden on - - burdens on public services and losing money through the deals and they all lose out. if it's not clear how they made a profit with public infrastructure too often much needed projects go unaddressed and condition simply deteriorate. the basic subsidizing housing it used to be with us. even if we acknowledge every rule was that best was the proverbial mixed bag we could still to admire and seek to capture that spirit of commitment and experimentation
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for those of logue and those that worked with him rather than content ourselves with those possibilities that has come to dominate and that is what he would want us to honor to give us the highest tribute with a lifetime of public service. thank you. [applause] >> so we have ten minutes for questions? >> i am a member here but to what extent for example in the
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sixties? >> he very much believed in highways we didn't come across any major conflict he inherited the expressways situation and regretted terribly how it cut the city off i didn't really see much about that but in my interview some funny stories of when you came back when the expressway was defeated that you used to joke with him and would tease you and say i'm doing all the work that you said he felt that at some level that he
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recognize the day of highways of the only solution was over. and thirdly you also make the point that at that time they wouldn't have public transit in the middle of the highway. he was focused on saving the city he thought the answer would be to cheat middle-class people in the city and by the time he finished in new haven he felt that was a losing game such recognize that suburbanization had taken off so instead what he focused on rather than moving out at 128 so he saw those roads to bring people back to work at the
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city's when i have anything specific to say. anyone else? >> ed logue throughout his career with the urban redevelopment authority which gave power to him to say whether or not the redevelopment authority should be abolished or continued to not represent democracy as we know it today how would you respond? [laughter] >> actually i should just point out the globe story that came out in that idea section from sunday basically i had the interview with courtney humphreys with the author a couple weeks ago.
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then the report came in the repw distinctions made over time and that's one of the reports i'm
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trying to make. the 1950s first phase and that there was an evolutionary process here. that was moved into the globe story and i also would remind us that sending the respect to city council isn't the best solution. they were all a all at-large ans was supposed to be a fix for the specific neighborhood base before the charter change the
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base though represented constituencies in the neighborhood and there was a tremendous amount of politics involved so we need to think hard about the best solution. we know how the affordable housing crisis is terrible in mississippi and other problems, transit, other services, there definitely are problems. but we need to think through the best solution to that. obviously we need to make sure they are accountable to the communities. they feel they have, but i hope you and i feel good about the topic coming up because i think it is a healthy discussion for the city to have a but i hope
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that we can look at a full range of remedies. this is a c-span book taping here. >> i was curious you said a poor politician, to some extent i talked to somebody that worked with him as well.
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he would say i'm running for mayor i'm really happy to see these are the things i care about and he wasn't oriented that way and people that work for him now that he was to the point, he was blunt. he just wasn't cut out for that say he wasn't a good campaigner. they came from a family with a great pedigree. they were running from that neighborhood and had a long pedigree. and he had been a controversial
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figure in the neighborhood. one of the things he was proud of is the architect for lowe's. he got support from those who knew there was work coming but i think that he was viewed as a liberal candidate. the problem was people worried the vote would be divide deflatd even more specifically, white they were all from beacon hill said the state children' consti. when he had to make a list of the biggest when he was trying to write this about not very successfully, he made a list of the biggest mistakes of his career and number one was the north harvard situation that you have to read the book to figure out for the disaster that was. but then he didn't really negotiate.
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he learned a lesson that that was a mistake the other thing was his challenging of the petition. so, what happened is probably there was some funny business but say that the campaign handled it was very poor. and they have somebody makes a complaint that was from the campaign that then disappeared into the woodwork and in the end it worked against them. the other thing i would say is if you have a very strong feeling for the people he worked with, for his brothers, and that's something i talk about in the book.
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he brought his brother up from the campaign anto runthe campaia mistake. he didn't know anything about boston and some of the people i interviewed that were hard-core boston political auditors said we offered to help and he said he didn't need our help, so we backed off. there were a lot of mistakes made. >> you described it as failing and other things, but they built a whole pile of buildings. >> many other civic projects in the new towns. >> when you say failed, it didn't continue to manage in its existence but how many -- >> you want to know why it's had failed.
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>> how many people live in the housing that he is responsible for? >> i met a lot of the people that were better in several years ago when there was an exhibition in the housing. the creators went back to the projects like that lowrise and photographed how people were living in the housing today, but the reason why i said it failed was i gave you one explanation given the limits of time. after that, the state legislature got its chance to basically kill the ubc and took away the power of overriding everywhere but in the city. so that was one sort of defeat. the other way in which it was a
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difficult process is that there was a lot of accusations that they had not handled the finances responsible enough. part of that was the bankers wanting the investors thinking about it as an investment and that was another part of resources. there was never any mismanagement. it was an act commissioned for over a year to investigate to build his defense. there never was any mismanagement, but they were so driven to make this work and build as much housing is possible that there was some fuzziness that was ultimately decided in the way they managed the book. so, yes, success but the housing was built in the new towns, but if they had thought that it would go one forever because it
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would be self financing, and it obviously did not. >> i would like to comment for a minute if i could get your thoughts and i'm focusing on boston because that is where i spend all of my career so i started even slightly before a. some of the assumptions that are being made and that were touched on there was some chuckling when it became about the city council in boston and it's true way back
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when he was around and certainly during their regime t the city council was jokingly called clowns. it's far more representative of boston. i know you had to stop because you did your book and then he went to new york so you had sort of a bad half but not the other. the other half is wendy's different mayors came in after him.
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kevin at least followed through on a great deal even though he fought in the campaign come he followed a great deal of what took place when it was a redevelopment agency with damn good architecture, huge staff that was paid by the city and therefore when other mayors came in, they basically took over and took the attitude of private development is the panacea to solve the problems so if we look at what happened to one example of her but he knows and it is the shreveport district. that is an example where they really ran the show and there's still time to run the show and that is the problem when you get to affordable housing.
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>> i will say you used the phrase of the clown. part of the issue though is the charter that was ruling the structure of government at the time gave most of the power to the mayor and so the only way that the city counselors got any attention is when they did these antics. to some extent, the structure sort of forced them into the position. they couldn't initiate anything in the budget. they could only veto things. it was very much a mayor centered systems for granted we are dealing with a very different sort of city council today. >> it's still the same charter it's just the people that have been elected don't take the attitude. they are in and they are focusing the attention which is why there is concern about how
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the pra into the new eca, the peebles for planning that when you start to look at where is the planning, it's hard to find. >> i agree. so i guess getting the message that we are done. thank you. [applause]nearly $200 million i.
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