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Twentieth Century Pittsburgh Volume 1

Twentieth Century Pittsburgh Volume 1: Government, Business, and Environmental Change

Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Twentieth Century Pittsburgh Volume 1
    Book Description:

    Roy Lubove'sTwentieth-Century Pittsburghis a pioneering analysis of elite driven, post-World War II urban renewal in a city once disdained as "hell with the lid off." The book continues to be invaluable to anyone interested in the fate of America's beleaguered metropolitan and industrial centers.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7164-1
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. ONE The Balance of Life and Work
    (pp. 1-19)

    Pittsburgh, the “Renaissance” and “Cinderella” city of urban renewal after World War II, projected a more squalid image throughout most of its history. It was the “Smoky City,” America’s classic Coketown. Few communities were so frequently compared to hell. A visitor in the 1880’s felt as though he had “reached the outer edge of the infernal regions…. One pictures, as he beholds it, the tortured spirits writhing in agony, their sinewy limbs convulsed, and the very air oppressive with pain and rage.” And Lincoln Steffens never forgot his first impression: “It looked like hell, literally.”¹

    Social critics, by the early...

  2. TWO The Reform Process—The Voluntary Sector
    (pp. 20-40)

    The reform process in Pittsburgh was governed by three closely related circumstances. Purposeful environmental intervention could not occur without the participation of the major business interests. They were the primary source of money, power, and expertise. The timing and nature of reform were necessarily conditioned by their aspirations. Second, the emergence of reform movements in the early twentieth century was profoundly influenced by the realization of business leaders that civic fragmentation had a dual effect. It perpetuated the authority of the business sector, which was the single comparatively cohesive force, but it also limited and frustrated that authority. Paradoxically, feeble...

  3. THREE The Reform Process—The Public Sector
    (pp. 41-58)

    Sporadic efforts in the nineteenth century to regulate housing conditions in American cities were followed, after 1900, by a more systematic campaign. Lawrence Veiller of the New York Charity Organization Society introduced a new element of technical proficiency and centralization. The New York State Tenement House Law of 1901, devised by Veiller, served as a model code for numerous communities. Veiller exerted additional influence as a consultant to citizen groups throughout the country.¹ In Pittsburgh, he assisted Mrs. Iams and the Civic Club in preparing the Pennsylvania housing law of 1903, governing second-class cities.²

    Tenements created some of the most...

  4. FOUR Housing: The Gordian Knot
    (pp. 59-86)

    The old journalistic pastime—who could find Pittsburgh most repulsive and why—flourished between the wars. Pittsburgh would have emerged as the envy of America if scabrous criticism alone could reconstruct a city. H. L. Mencken, for one, peered through the smog and detected a “scene so dreadfully hideous, so intolerably bleak and forlorn that it reduced the whole aspiration of man to a macabre and depressing joke…. I am not speaking of mere filth. One expects steel towns to be dirty. What I allude to is the unbroken and agonizing ugliness, the sheer revolting monstrousness, of every house in...

  5. FIVE Planning: Form Without Substance
    (pp. 87-105)

    Planning activity in Pittsburgh during the interwar decades, like housing betterment, often hinged upon the initiative of voluntary civic and business organizations. A voluntary association, the Citizens Committee on City Plan (CCCP), even usurped the responsibility for preparing a general physical plan for Pittsburgh. Established in 1918, the CCCP became the chief vehicle through which businessmen attempted to influence the evolution of the physical environment. Its founders and officers included Charles D. Armstrong, W. L. Mellon, R. B. Mellon, James D. Hailman, and Howard Heinz. Many other prominent businessmen served on committees or provided financial support.¹

    Frederick Bigger, along with...

  6. SIX The Pittsburgh Renaissance: An Experiment in Public Paternalism
    (pp. 106-141)

    In explaining the origins of Pittsburgh’s massive physical renewal program following World War II, one cannot exaggerate the importance of the crisis atmosphere that pervaded the community. This led to drastic modification of the historic formula that had delegated constructive responsibility for intervention to voluntary institutions. The foundation of the entire Renaissance effort was the use of public powers and resources to preserve the economic vitality of the central business district (CBD) and, more broadly, the competitive economic position of the Pittsburgh region. In essence, the Pittsburgh Renaissance represented a response to a crisis situation, one that precipitated a dramatic...

  7. SEVEN The Social Dimensions of the Renaissance
    (pp. 142-176)

    In the early years of the Renaissance, the director of the Pittsburgh Housing Association warned that Pittsburgh, “for all its dreams of a sterilized, streamlined city of the future, is in trouble, serious trouble. Its housing gets older and more decayed by the hour.”¹ The original emphasis on renewal as an instrument of economic reconstruction led, furthermore, to a reduction in the net supply of low-cost housing. By the late 1950’s the housing problem could no longer be ignored in light of shortages, extensive deterioration of the existing stock, and relocation difficulties dramatized by the Lower Hill redevelopment. Not least...