Sponsored by the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies and the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, Carleton University
"Seeing the City: Resistance and Rehabilitation in the Renewal of Montreal’s Milton Park"
"Picturing Preservation: Photographs as Urban Renewal Planning Knowledge in Society Hill, Philadelphia"
Francesca Russello Ammon, University of Pennsylvania
Brian Goldstein, University of New Mexico
Suleiman Osman, George Washington University
Aaron Shkuda, Princeton University
Since sociologist Ruth Glass coined “gentrification” in 1964, the term has denoted racial change, class transformation, and architectural rehabilitation in American cities. Yet as a simple label that describes a complicated process of urban change, gentrification has also created both physical and rhetorical spaces of contested meaning, often obscuring as much as it has revealed. Sorting out these complicated meanings – Is gentrification good for cities or bad? Does it symbolize the renaissance of urban places or new kinds of urban crisis? – has long been the province of sociologists, geographers, and urban theorists. Only in the last decade have historians turned an eye to gentrification, accepting its ambiguity but also seeking to understand it as a process with deep roots, diverse actors, and complex consequences. In recent and forthcoming works, urban historians have uncovered a story that cannot be understood through binaries of winners and losers, or insider and outsiders. In doing so, they have given a multifaceted history to the most recent period of urban change. This round table offers an opportunity for historians working on such questions to discuss these new histories of gentrification and the insights they offer on a process that is still very much underway, even as Glass’s term is a half-century old. The scholars assembled here take historical studies of gentrification in new directions by focusing on the role of universities, community organizations, historic preservation, artists, and affordable housing, among other aspects. They will discuss different ways of approaching the history of gentrification, the varied histories that result, and the methodological challenges of this field.
Francesca Russello Ammon is a cultural historian of the built environment. Her research focuses on the social, material, and cultural life of American cities, from World War II to the present. She is especially interested in the processes and consequences of urban renewal, the influence of war on postwar planning and design, the dynamic relationship between cities and nature, and the ways that visual culture has shaped understanding of what cities are, have been, and should be.
Professor Ammon is assistant professor of City & Regional Planning and Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania. She teaches courses on planning history, historical research methods, cities and sound, and photography and the city. On this last topic, she recently organized a two-day symposium at PennDesign titled "Picturing Policy: How Visual Culture Shapes the Urban Built Environment."
Outside of the classroom, Professor Ammon is a colloquium member of the Penn/Mellon Foundation Humanities + Urbanism + Design Initiative, an Andrew W. Mellon DH Fellow at the Price Lab for Digital Humanities, and a Faculty Fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research. During 2016-17, Professor Ammon is a Mellon Researcher with the Canadian Centre for Architecture's Architecture and Photography initiative. She also serves on the board of the Society for American City & Regional Planning History (SACRPH).
Before joining Penn, Professor Ammon was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She previously earned her Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale University, her Master of Environmental Design (M.E.D.) at Yale School of Architecture, and her B.S.E. in civil engineering at Princeton University.
This lecture is part of P+ARG's Emerging Voices Lecture Series. P+ARG is comprised of research students in both Urban and Regional Planning and Architecture. Our main purpose is to enhance the social and academic experiences of research students in the college.
Wellesley’s Art Department is happy to welcome Francesca Ammon for a lecture on American architecture that will explore how postwar America came to equate destruction with progress.
While the decades following WWII stand out as an era of rapid growth and construction, they were also marked by large-scale land clearance for new suburban tract housing, interstate highways, and urban renewal. The bulldozer functioned as both the means and the metaphor for this work. As the machine transformed from a wartime weapon into an instrument of postwar planning, it helped realize a landscape altering “culture of clearance.” In the hands of the military, planners, politicians, engineers, construction workers, and even children’s book authors, the bulldozer became an American icon. Yet, the subsequent social and environmental injustices also spurred environmental, preservationist, and citizen participation efforts to slow, although not entirely stop, the momentum of the postwar bulldozer
Francesca Ammon is an Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania. She studies the history of the built environment, focusing on the social, material, and cultural life of cities in the twentieth-century United States. This event is free and open to the public.
Aaron Shkuda & Francesca Russello Ammon in Conversation — The Bulldozer and the Artist: Reinventing American Cities after WWII
Faced with dwindling populations and economic decline, the cities of the American north faced a choice in the years after World War II: either wipe the slate clean and start over, or find a way to reuse the structures that defined their industrial heyday. Labyrinth and The Princeton University School of Architecture invite you to a conversation about the ways in which two entities, one machine, one human, played critical roles in this process or reinvention: the bulldozer and the artist.
Although the decades following World War II stand out as an era of rapid growth and construction in the United States, those years were equally significant for large-scale destruction. In order to clear space for new suburban tract housing, an ambitious system of interstate highways, and extensive urban renewal development, wrecking companies demolished buildings while earthmoving contractors leveled land at an unprecedented pace and scale. In postwar America, many came to equate this destruction with progress. The bulldozer functioned as both the means and the metaphor for this work. As the machine transformed from a wartime weapon into an instrument of postwar planning, it helped realize a landscape-altering “culture of clearance.”
At the same time, American cities entered a new phase when artists looked upon a decaying industrial zone in Lower Manhattan and saw, not blight, but opportunity: cheap rents, lax regulation, and wide open spaces. Thus, SoHo was born. From 1960 to 1980, residents transformed the industrial neighborhood into an artist district, creating the conditions under which it evolved into an upper-income, gentrified area. Introducing the idea—still potent in city planning today—that art could be harnessed to drive municipal prosperity, SoHo was the forerunner of gentrified districts in cities nationwide, spawning the notion of the creative class.
Francesca Russello Ammon is assistant professor of city and regional planning and historic preservation at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Bulldozer: Demolition and Clearance of the Postwar Landscape. Aaron Shkuda is project manager of the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities at Princeton University. His new book is The Lofts of SoHo: Gentrification, Art, and Industry in New York, 1950–1980.
Sponsored by the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture + Urbanism
Book talk on Bulldozer: Demolition and Clearance of the Postwar Landscape (Yale University Press, 2016)
Sponsored by the Penn Institute for Urban Research and the Department of City & Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design.
The second installment of the CITY PLANNING POETICS series, imagined and curated by Penn PhD student DAVY KNITTLE, will be presented in the KWH Arts Café on Tuesday, September 6th, at 6:30PM. This edition of the series will feature JASON MITCHELL, Philly-based poet and curator of the beloved Frank O’Hara’s Last Lover reading series, and FRANCESCA RUSSELLO AMMON, assistant professor of City & Regional Planning and Historic Preservation in Penn’s School of Design. They will be in conversation to answer the questions “What are the tools that shape the built environment? Where did they come from? How have they been used?” As our first event of the year, this will be a great introduction to the Writers House’s dedication to interdisciplinary programming in the literary arts. See the FB event here: