The RAI congratulates Lizabeth Cohen on being awarded a 2020 Bancroft Prize for her recent book, Saving America's Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019).
Lizabeth Cohen is the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies at Harvard University. She was the Harmsworth Visiting Professor of American History at Oxford in 2007-08 and remains a Distinguished Fellow of the Rothermere American Institute.
In Saving America's Cities, she follows the career of the urban planner, public administrator, and politician Edward J. Logue, a leading exponent of urban renewal in the decades after World War II. During this time, even as national policies promoted suburban sprawl, the federal government underwrote renewal efforts for cities that had suffered during the Great Depression and the war and were now bleeding residents into the suburbs. Logue's shifting approach to the urban crisis tracked the changing balance between government-funded public programs and private interests that would culminate in a rush to privatize efforts to solve entrenched social problems. Logue saw renewing cities as an extension of the liberal New Deal. He worked to revive a declining New Haven, became the architect of the 'New Boston' of the 1960s, and, later, led New York State’s Urban Development Corporation, which built entire new towns, including Roosevelt Island in New York City. Saving America's Cities charts the varying success and complicated legacy of Logue's era of urban renewal.
The Bancroft Prizes are awarded annually, by Columbia University, to two books on American History or Diplomacy.