Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Deindustrialization and Urban Blight

Deindustrialization and Urban Blight: The net loss of industrial output in most cities is the primary effect of deindustrialization. As a structural process, it particularly affects cities where manufacturing constitutes the largest component of the urban economy. With the decline of the automobile industry in Detroit, Michigan, the city has become a poster child for deindustrialization. At the same time, the steel industry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has largely evaporated, and thus, the area between the two cities is known as the Rust Belt. But is deindustrialization an entirely negative aspect of urban life in this region? Sure, it creates urban blight in the form of abandoned warehouses, factories, and houses. And it even highlights the racial tensions that stem from 'white flight' and labor segmentation. Yet deindustrialization also leads to economic opportunities in the form of deflated real estate prices. Developers are therefore able to engage in the urban renewal process more easily by purchasing and renovating unused or foreclosed buildings. In short, the deindustrialization narrative in urban history will continue to serve as a key framework for examining any city's basic socio-economic structures.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sacco and Vanzetti

Sacco and Vanzetti: As a classic case of nativism, the Sacco and Vanzetti trials of the 1920s originated with the First Red Scare. Born in Italy in the late nineteenth century, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti immigrated to Massachusetts in 1908. They adamantly supported Italian anarchist Luigi Galleani, who was a known proponent of anarcho-syndicalism. Fraught with ideas such as "wage slavery" and "trade unionism," anarcho-syndicalism essentially focused on building structural anarchy into the labor movements of the early twentieth century. When Sacco and Vanzetti eventually met in 1917, the political climate in the United States was very anti-radical. The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia coupled with the general nervousness surrounding World War I pushed many American authorities to embark on political witch-hunts. Given the reactionary atmosphere in America at the time, immigrants, particularly those from Southern and Eastern Europe, were synonymous with radical beliefs. Sacco and Vanzetti experienced the consequences of anti-radicalism when they faced their impending executions (under the banner of sedition) in 1927 for two murders and a robbery that they may or may not have committed.