Cover image for New York, Chicago, Los Angeles : America's global cities
New York, Chicago, Los Angeles : America's global cities
Abu-Lughod, Janet L.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 580 pages : illustrations, maps ; 26 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
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HT123 .A613 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles -- for all their differences, they are quintessentially American cities. They are also among the handful of cities on the earth that can be called "global." Janet L. Abu-Lughod's book is the first to compare them in an ambitious in-depth study that takes into account each city's unique history, following their development from their earliest days to their current status as players on the global stage.

Unlike most other global cities, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles all quickly grew from the nearly blank slate of the American landscape to become important beyond the nation's borders early in their histories. As a result, Abu-Lughod is able to show the overall effect of globalization on each city's development. While all three are critical to global economics and the spread of American culture to the farthest reaches of an increasingly interlinked world, their influence reflects their individual histories and personalities. In a masterful synthesis of historical and economic information, Abu-Lughod clarifies how each city's global role is -- and will be -- affected by geography, ethnicity of population, political institutions, and tradition of governance.

New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are more than global players: they are also home to forty million people. Abu-Lughod closes the book with a set of vignettes that captures the cities' differences as perceived by one who has lived in them. Bringing together the local and the global in thoroughly unexpected and enlightening ways, this important volume offers fascinating insight into these vital urban centers.

Author Notes

Janet L. Abu-Lughod is an American sociologist who specializes in social change and urbanization in the developing world. She was educated at the University of Chicago and the University of Massachusetts. She began her career as an urban planner and research consultant to organizations dealing with community development issues and housing problems.

As an academic, she taught at the University of Cairo and Smith College before moving to Northwestern University. She taught sociology at the New School for Social Research in New York, where she conducted research on urban problems.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Chicago, whose surrounding marshlands abounded in "wild onions," was wrested from Native tribes in 1795; Los Angeles County in the 1930s used a federal law allowing deportation of "indigent aliens" to expel tens of thousands of Mexican immigrants from the U.S. These are among the surprising historical footnotes to be found Abu-Lughod's revealing study of the forces of globalization that have swept three major American cities over the last century. A prolific sociologist and professor emerita (Northwestern University and Manhattan's New School for Social Research), Abu-Lughod singles out New York, Chicago and Los Angeles as America's "global cities" shaped by the increased importance of business services, a dichotomized class structure and the internationalization of commerce. Globalization, she insists, is much older than many scholars understand, with the seeds firmly in place in the mid-19th-century. A central thesis here is that, since 1973, the class and income gap between rich and poor Americans has widened sharply thanks to regressive government policies, cutbacks in entitlements and a tax system that shifts wealth upwards from the poor and the middle classes to corporations and the wealthy. The writing, which is unusually vigorous and incisive for so academic a tome, and the scores of photographs and maps, will secure a place for this book well beyond the drafting tables of aspiring city planners. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

In the urban studies literature, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles must surely be the most written-about cities on Earth. But they also continue to evolve, and one of the field's most distinguished practitioners here seeks to compare their ongoing transformations as each adapts to forces of globalization that are reshaping the urban world. Bracketed by insightful introductory and closing chapters, Abu-Lughod's study is organized into four historical parts, with each containing chapters on all three cities in that particular era. Part 1 treats the preindustrial period; part 2 the Industrial Revolution between 1873 and 1929; part 3 the era of restructuring in the four decades centered around midcentury; and part 4 the past three decades dominated by the dynamics of postindustrialism and socioeconomic globalization. This is not an analysis steeped in cutting-edge theory (Abu-Lughod's LA coverage, for example, barely acknowledges the pioneering work of Soja, Scott, Dear, and Davis), but it is a useful and welcome synthesis of the work that has brought scholars to their current research frontier. The book is lavishly documented and well indexed but needs many more maps, diagrams, and photos. Highly recommended for urban studies collections. Upper-division undergraduates and above. P. O. Muller; University of Miami

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
1. An Overviewp. 1
Part I. First Beginningsp. 17
2. The First Growth Cycle to 1820p. 19
3. Developments between the 1820s and the 1870sp. 35
Part II. The Establishment of the Triumvirate: From Stock Market Crash (1873) to Stock Market Crash (1929)p. 59
4. New York Solidifies Its Characterp. 70
5. Chicago Becomes Fordistp. 100
6. Los Angeles Becomes "Anglo"p. 133
Part III. From the Depths of the Depression to Restructuring, 1930-70p. 165
7. A New York: A New Dealp. 178
8. Fordist Chicago: Down but Not Quite Outp. 212
9. Los Angeles Becomes Industrialp. 237
Part IV. Restructuring the Global Economy: The Three Cities Todayp. 269
10. The New York Region: Expanding, Contracting, and Restructuringp. 285
11. Postapocalyse Chicagop. 321
12. The Los Angeles Region Transformedp. 358
13. Conclusions and a Look to the Futurep. 399
Notesp. 427
Indexp. 555