The Future Once Happened Here: New York, D.C., L.A., and the Fate of America's Big Cities


Fred Siegel tells an incredible story about the fate of America's most influential cities: New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles. Standing as metaphors for America's urban life because of their stature as nerve centres of the nation, these three cities -- once celebrated for their excitement and creativity as well as their ability to incorporate immigrants and solve the nation's problems -- were all caught up in the social policies born in the '60s and '70s and, as a consequence, faltered badly in dealing with the politics of race and the quality of their residents' lives in the '80s and '90s. Each of Siegel's three urban portraits shows the desperate remedies undertaken by cities searching for a lifeline back to the future whose promise they once seemed to embody. In a narrative that acknowledges the large historical forces that have remade the face of America over the last three decades, but insists that social policies are not merely foregone conclusions waiting to happen, Siegel holds up a mirror to our urban nature and tells us much about the way we live now.

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