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Based on a reading of almost 6,000 entries from 37 periodicals published between the years 1865 and 1900, The Urbanists offers an insightful analysis of the development of an urban frame of mind. Drawing on the writings of such major figures of nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century urban America as Frederick Law Olmsted, Daniel H. Burnham, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Robert E. Park, as well as their lesser-known contemporaries, the study combines a number of customarily specialized perspectives: those of the urban designer, the social scientist, the administrator, the politician, the reformer, and the general observer of the city scene. The most comprehensive collection of observations on the period's rapidly expanding urban world, as expressed by its own chroniclers in periodicals of the times, this study highlights the rise of urban self-consciousness into the twentieth century.
The volume opens with a background chapter on civic concerns expressed during the two decades following the Civil War and proceeds to four chapters detailing the full range of urban affairs during the final fifteen years of the century. In addition, a series of shorter interludes, each more narrowly focused, supplements the sweep of the periodical literature provided in the chapters with close-up readings from major texts of the era. In conclusion, the book suggests that the basic outlines of modern urban theory were set for subsequent generations by the first urbanists who emerged during the late 1800s. The most comprehensive first-hand account of urban change, this important contribution to urban studies will provide valued reading for students of U.S. and urban studies, American studies, city planning, landscape architecture, and public policy.