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The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation

The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation: Beijing, Chicago, and Paris

Yue Zhang
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation
    Book Description:

    While urban preservation is almost as old as cities themselves, it has become increasingly controversial in modern cities. In this book, Yue Zhang presents a cross-national comparative analysis of the politics of urban preservation. Based on comprehensive archival research and more than two hundred in-depth interviews in Beijing, Chicago, and Paris, Zhang finds that urban preservation provides a tool for diverse political and social actors to frame their propositions and advance their favored courses of action. In cities from West to East, divergent political and economic interests have caused urban preservation to become contested. Exploring three of the world's great cities, Zhang deftly navigates readers through each case study, illustrating the complexities of the politics of urban preservation in each city. In Beijing, urban preservation was integral to promoting economic growth and enhancing the city's image during the lead-up to the 2008 Olympics; in Chicago, it is used to increase property values and revitalize neighborhoods; and in Paris, it offers a channel for national and municipal governments to compete for control over urban space. Although urban preservation serves various purposes in these cities, Zhang explains how different types of political fragmentation have affected the implementation of preservation initiatives in predictable ways, thus generating distinct patterns of urban preservation. A comparative urban politics study of unusual breadth, The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation gives us insight into the complex policy process of urban preservation through which political institutions are intertwined with interests and inclinations, fundamentally shaping the direction of urban development, the physical forms of cities, and the lives of citizens.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8818-0
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: The Paradox of Urban Preservation
    (pp. xiii-xxviii)

    In the summer of 2005, two large preservation projects were taking place in Beijing. The first one was the restoration of Yongdingmen, the central gate of the Outer City located at the southern end of the Central Axis. Originally built in 1553, Yongdingmen was demolished in the 1950s, along with the city walls and thirteen other city gates, in the construction of the socialist capital. The restoration began in 2003 after Beijing was selected as the Host City of the 2008 Olympics Games, and the project was part of the city’s “Cultural Heritage Preservation Plan for an Olympiad of Humanity.”...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The Logic of Political Fragmentation
    (pp. 1-22)

    In this chapter, I develop a general theory of how political fragmentation influences the policy process. I identify three major types of political fragmentation, namely, functional fragmentation, territorial fragmentation, and intergovernmental fragmentation, and I specify the effects of each type on the policy process. Using this theory, I detail more specific propositions about the relationship between political institutions and the policy process of urban preservation, which are explored through comparative and historical analyses in chapters 2 to 4. I also highlight alternative explanations of the policy process, and of urban preservation policy more specifically, as the basis for comparison with...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Beijing: Bureaucratic Anarchy and Symbolic Preservation
    (pp. 23-64)

    On a hot summer day in 2010, I went to interview an official in a district government of Beijing who is in charge of cultural heritage preservation in the district. Our interview place was chosen in a temple, located in the center of the city but no longer open to the public, where he and his assistants were doing some work. As soon as I entered the temple, I was surprised by the piles of stone tablets and gate piers, in complete forms or just segments, scattered on the grass of the temple (Figure 3). Both unique components of traditional...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Chicago: Aldermanic Fiefdoms and Mosaic Preservation
    (pp. 65-102)

    During my first research trip to Chicago in 2004, I was lucky to meet with and have a long conversation with the deputy commissioner of the Chicago Landmarks Division. After giving me a historical overview of preservation policies in Chicago, he asked me whether I had spoken to any aldermen of the city. My answer was a confused “no”; I had no idea what an alderman was at the time. The deputy commissioner emphasized that I would not be able to fully understand how urban preservation in Chicago works unless I talked to the aldermen. Several weeks later, I had...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Paris: Intergovernmental Competition and Joint Preservation
    (pp. 103-146)

    In January 2007, at the end of my research trip to Paris, I was stunned by the news that the Paris Municipal Government was sued by the French National Government in the Administrative Court of Paris. The cause of the lawsuit was an urban development plan (Plans Locaux d’Urbanisme [PLU]) made by the city in 2006, in which a total of 5,607 buildings were designated as the Municipal Heritage of Paris (Patrimoine de la Ville de Paris [PVP]). This had been the first urban development plan made by the Paris Municipality and the first landmark designation made by a local...

  9. CONCLUSION: Political Boundaries and Beyond
    (pp. 147-158)

    Urban preservation is fraught with paradox and controversy. Despite the original goals of urban preservation to protect the architectural integrity and social sustainability of cities, the practice of urban preservation in modern cities is motivated by different political and economic concerns. In Beijing, urban preservation is a tool for the local government to promote economic growth and to create a better image for the city. Preservation projects do not stop the destruction of the historic city but smooth out the function of the growth machine and facilitate the commodification of cultural heritage. In Chicago, urban preservation has evolved into the...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 159-162)
    (pp. 163-178)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 179-202)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 203-205)