Healing "Sick" Cities: Analyzing Mid-Century Urban Renewal Literature
Vande Zande, Jenna
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Mid-century city planners often made the ultimate decision to determine which areas were too "sick" to save, who was allowed access to the new spaces, and who was not. The bias against minorities and anyone who was not considered the perfect tenant is evident in the three types of documents analyzed in this paper: books on urban planning, city plans and reports, and federal government housing policies. Planners would often use the metaphor of the human body and disease when discussing the "cancerous" slum areas in the city whose only treatment was swift extraction. This very narrow focus of mid-century city planners made them unwilling to see the city as many connecting parts that relied on each other for success. This was especially true in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin as developers quickly removed families out of the East Side neighborhood between Lake Michigan and the downtown area in order to build new, modern office space and residential buildings. However, the East Side plan was only part of the problem concerning discrimination against minorities. Civil rights protests regarding issues like opening housing, fair employment, and neighborhood support played a large role in Milwaukee politics during the 1950s and 1960s but many demonstrations were met with violence from opposing white homeowners. When city planners established which neighborhoods were worth treating for urban decay and which would be ignored or removed, they did not consider the ramifications of their actions.
Milwaukee (Wis.)--Social conditions
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