History of American City Government

History of American City Government

History of American City Government

History of American City Government

Excerpt

A city is a social organism extending its ramifications into segments of life far beyond the narrowly political. In spite of the growth of large scale industry, the city is still to some extent an economic entity. Even more strikingly it is and always has been a group in the sociological sense, with an ever more intricate internal pattern of milling sub-groups whose activities constitute the phenomena of its political and social life. It is at one and the same time a repository and a creator of our culture, a custodian of the past and an experimental dynamic in evolving new ways and institutions.

Its story from the early beginnings till the present time is still to be written in all its epic quality; but, when it is written, it is not too much to predict that there will have been unfolded a force in our national life of very great magnitude and power. In fact, with the city's opportunities for creative activity, it is not too fanciful to suggest that, at least from the turn of the present century, the city has assumed the kind of dominant spiritual role which was once held by the now vanishing frontier.

A history of the governmental aspects of the American city, of which the present volume furnishes a beginning, has a more modest objective. This is to illumine the evolution of the political forms and practices, the political behaviour of our people, which found expression in our municipalities. That the juridical city did not and does not precisely coincide with the built-up, sociological, geographic, economic city should not blind one to the fact that these sociological and geographic and economic influences have been by far the most powerful of those motivating its political action.

This, then, is a history of the political city; but it is a . . .

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