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Harry Halverson Lecture on Architecture: “Bulldozer: The Culture of Clearance in Postwar America”

  • Wellesley College Wellesley, MA (map)

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.