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Review Essay

The City and the State

American Urban Planning and the Role of Government

In This Review

Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About Cities
Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About Cities
By Witold Rybczynski
Scribner, 2011, 256 pp. $24.00 Purchase
Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier
Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier
By Edward L. Glaeser
Penguin Press, 2011, 352 pp. $29.95 Purchase

In the years after World War II, New York City decided to get rid of its East Side Gashouse District, a bleak landscape of towering gas storage tanks and six-story walkup tenements. It replaced it with Stuyvesant Town -- a modern "suburb in the city," as its planners described it. The creation of Stuyvesant Town represented a watershed moment in what would become a decades-long movement to revive and modernize the American city. In the 1940s and 1950s, many parts of U.S. cities were crowded and rundown, a condition that stood in stark contrast to the country's emerging suburban utopias. President Harry Truman called attention to the problem in his 1949 State of the Union address, pointing out, "Five million families are still living in slums and firetraps. Three million families share their homes with others." After Truman's speech, Congress passed the Housing Act of 1949, which provided federal financing for

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