In the 1960s, Cleveland suffered through racial violence, spiking crime rates, and a shrinking tax base, as the city lost jobs and population. Rats infested an expanding and decaying ghetto, Lake Erie appeared to be dying, and dangerous air pollution hung over the city. Such was the urban crisis in the "Mistake on the Lake." When the Cuyahoga River caught fire in the summer of 1969, the city was at its nadir, polluted and impoverished, struggling to set a new course. The burning river became the emblem of all that was wrong with the urban environment in Cleveland and in all of industrial America.Carl Stokes, the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city, had come into office in Cleveland a year earlier with energy and ideas. He surrounded himself with a talented staff, and his administration set new policies to combat pollution, improve housing, provide recreational opportunities, and spark downtown development. In Where the River Burned, David Stradling and Richard Stradling describe Cleveland's nascent transition from polluted industrial city to viable service city during the Stokes administration.The story culminates with the first Earth Day in 1970, when broad citizen engagement marked a new commitment to the creation of a cleaner, more healthful and appealing city. Although concerned primarily with addressing poverty and inequality, Stokes understood that the transition from industrial city to service city required massive investments in the urban landscape. Stokes adopted ecological thinking that emphasized the connectedness of social and environmental problems and the need for regional solutions. He served two terms as mayor, but during his four years in office Cleveland's progress fell well short of his administration's goals. Although he was acutely aware of the persistent racial and political boundaries that held back his city, Stokes was in many ways ahead of his time in his vision for Cleveland and a more livable urban America.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 264
Weight: 567 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 20 mm
"Focusing on Cleveland's shift from industrial to postindustrial service city and mayor Carl Stokes's administration (1967-1971), David (history, Univ. of Cincinnati) and Richard (retired reporter) Stradling critique postwar liberalism's limited ability to solve the resulting environmental and social problems. Well written and interestingly told, this is a good survey of Cleveland's experience for a general audience. Summing Up: Recommended."* Choice *
"This impressive book's successes lie in the new connections the authors forge between environmental history and urban history, uniting the postwar urban crisis and the rise of environmentalism.... Where the River Burned contains important lessons in an era when environmental amenities aimed at upper middle-classes are seen as key for revitalizing cities such as Cleveland.... This relevance suggests the book deserves wide readership among environmental and urban historians, as well as among urban officials following in Stokes's wake."-- Andrew Needham * Journal of American History *
"Where the River Burned exposes the precarious role of cities in the evolving environmental agenda of the late 1960s. David Stradling and Richard Stradling do a superb job of showing how urban decline and the environmental movement were intertwined. Carl Stokes provides an ideal lens through which to explore these themes because of his perceptive understanding of that relationship. The authors make clear that urban actors played an important role in advancing the nation's environmental movement by delivering Congressional testimony, staging protests, and highlighting a distinctive set of urban problems."-- Andrew Hurley, University of Missouri-St. Louis, author of Beyond Preservation: Using Public History to Revitalize Inner Cities
"David and Richard Stradling have produced an important work that notes the centrality of environmental problems to the urban crisis of the 1960s and 1970s. Where the River Burned will make us seriously consider the vital connection between ecology and urban space."-- Clarence Taylor, author of Reds at the Blackboard
"In Where the River Burned, David Stradling and Richard Stradling offer fresh insight into the 'urban crisis' of the 1960s and beyond by telling the story of Cleveland during the administration of Carl Stokes, the first black mayor of a major U.S. city. Stradling and Stradling argue that the environmental and urban problems of the Stokes years were inseparable. Cleveland's environmental woes-from pollution to rats-contributed powerfully to the problems of depopulation, neighborhood decay, violence, and racial strife. At the same time, efforts to improve the urban environment were handicapped by the need to address a host of other pressing problems. Where the River Burned is a wonderfully written book that will change the way you think about urban and environmental history."-- Adam Rome, Unidel Helen Gouldner Chair for the Environment and Professor of History and English at the University of Delawareand, author of The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation
"What a fascinating story! Where the River Burned combines the best of many worlds: environmental and urban history; captivating writing and deep archival research; broad analysis of American society and an engrossing portrait of an unsung but incredibly significant political figure: Carl Stokes, the first African American elected mayor of a major U.S. city. Once you read this book, how you think about racism, poverty, economics, population changes, politics, and pollution in American cities will change forever."-- Brian Purnell, author of Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings
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