2004 Lecture Series to Open With a Discussion of Urban Vitality in an Era of Urban Decline

Cities needn't go back in time to be exciting places to live, says Rae

Release Date: September 14, 2004 This content is archived.


Related Multimedia

Author Douglas Rae will discuss whether fading urban centers can evolve again into exciting and lively places to live on Sept. 23 at UB.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Preoccupied as we are with the end of urbanism, Buffalonians ought to chuck the chicken wings and gobble up some Douglas Rae.

With his arresting new book, "CITY: Urbanism and Its End" (Yale University Press, 2003), Rae has excited the moribund national discussion about whether or not fading urban centers can evolve again into lively and exciting places to live.

He concludes that no matter how unfortunate the demise of urban life might be, cities need not reach their old peaks of population, or look like thriving suburbs, to be, once-again, splendid places for human beings to live and work.

Rae, a professor of political science and the Richard S. Ely Professor of Organization and Management at Yale University, will open the 2004-05 lecture series presented by the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 22 in 301 Crosby Hall on the UB South (Main Street) Campus.

His talk and the reception that will follow will be free and open to the public.

On Sept. 24, as part of his three-day visit to Buffalo, the UB school will co-host host a brown-bag lunch/meet-the-author event featuring Rae at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Nottingham Terrace, Buffalo.

This event will take place from noon to 1 p.m. and will be moderated by Kathryn Foster, chair of the school's Department of Urban and Regional Planning. It will feature a reading by Rae, questions, discussion and a book signing.

In "CITY," Rae employs the rich history of New Haven, Conn., to trace the evolution of urbanism from the heyday of corner groceries, mixed-use neighborhoods, parish halls, factories and even saloons that produced vital urban centers, to the gradual decline of urban life after World War II.

Foster calls Rae's book "a beautifully rendered read about urban life (that) illuminates themes central to Buffalo-Niagara, including immigrant history, the ebb and flow of manufacturing, racial politics, good governance and civic culture."

Tom Condon, writing in the Hartford (Conn.) Courant, agrees, saying Rae "depicts the features that contributed most to city life in the early 'urbanist' decades of the 20th century. (His) subject is New Haven, Conn., but the lessons he draws apply to many American cities."

Many urban theorists and critics claim that for anyone with the slightest interest in cities, "CITY" is a must-read volume that they won't be able to put down. It "crackles with intellectual excitement that jolts the local particulars to life," wrote one reviewer, and Jennifer Hochschild, author of "Facing Up to the American Dream," goes further.

"'CITY,'" she writes, "could single-handedly revive the study of urban politics and the analysis of power in American society with insights on history, race, capitalism and policy problems."

Media Contact Information

Patricia Donovan has retired from University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, call 716-645-6969 or visit our list of current university media contacts. Sorry for the inconvenience.