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New York, Chicago, Los Angeles

America’s Global Cities

2001
Author:

Janet L. Abu-Lughod

New York, Chicago, Los Angeles

A renowned scholar compares America’s three global cities.

New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles-for all their differences, they are quintessentially American cities. They are also among the handful of cities on the earth that can be called “global.” Janet L. Abu-Lughod’s book is the first to compare them in an ambitious in-depth study that takes into account each city’s unique history, following their development from their earliest days to their current status as players on the global stage.

Comparative urbanism has few practitioners as distinguished as Janet L. Abu-Lughod. In this monumental study, Professor Abu-Lughod rescues Los Angeles from eccentricity by placing it in comparative context alongside the two most accepted urban paradigms of the United States: New York and Chicago. In doing so, she has added a new city-the City of Angels-to the front ranks of American cities and has significantly enhanced our understanding of New York and Chicago as well.

Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California

New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles-for all their differences, they are quintessentially American cities. They are also among the handful of cities in the world that can truly be called “global.” Janet L. Abu-Lughod’s book is the first to compare them in an ambitious in-depth study that takes into account each city’s unique history, following their development from their earliest days to their current status as players on the global stage.

Unlike most other global cities, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles all quickly grew from the nearly blank slate of the American landscape to become important beyond the nation’s borders early in their histories. As a result, Abu-Lughod is able to show the effect of globalization on each city’s development from its beginnings. While all three are critical to global economics and the spread of American culture to the farthest reaches of an increasingly interlinked world, their influence reflects their individual histories and personalities. In a masterful synthesis of historical and economic information, Abu-Lughod clarifies how each city’s global role is-and will be-affected by geography, ethnicity of population, political institutions, and tradition of governance.

New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are more than global players: they are also home to forty million people. Abu-Lughod closes the book with a set of vignettes that captures the cities’ differences as perceived by one who has lived in them. Bringing together the local and the global in thoroughly unexpected and enlightening ways, this important volume offers fascinating insight into these vital urban centers.

ISBN 0-8166-3335-5 Cloth/jacket £27.50 $39.95
640 Pages 25 black-and-white photos, 39 tables, 59 maps 7 x 10 August
Translation inquiries: University of Minnesota Press

New York, Chicago, Los Angeles

Janet L. Abu-Lughod, professor emerita of sociology of Northwestern University and the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, has been writing about and studying cities for more than fifty years. Her books include From Urban Village to East Village: The Battle for New York's Lower East Side; Changing Cities: Urban Sociology; Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350; Rabat: Urban Apartheid in Morocco; and Cairo: 1001 Years of the City Victorious, among many other publications. In 1999 she received the Robert and Helen Lynd Award (American Sociological Association, Section on Community and Urban Sociology) for distinguished lifetime contributions to the study of cities.

New York, Chicago, Los Angeles

Comparative urbanism has few practitioners as distinguished as Janet L. Abu-Lughod. In this monumental study, Professor Abu-Lughod rescues Los Angeles from eccentricity by placing it in comparative context alongside the two most accepted urban paradigms of the United States: New York and Chicago. In doing so, she has added a new city-the City of Angels-to the front ranks of American cities and has significantly enhanced our understanding of New York and Chicago as well.

Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California

This breathtaking tour through the history of the three largest cities of the United States synthesizes the essentials of their varied history in a readable, lively form. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles is the first book I have seen by a single author who has lived in and become intimately knowledgeable about each of the cities, has plumbed their history, examined statistics, and pulled together a comparison that places the data and accounts in the context of personal experience. Abu-Lughod concludes the book with a set of human vignettes that captures differences and similarities among the cities, in the lived experience of a user and employer of each of the cities.

Peter Marcuse, Columbia University

A masterful comparative history of the three cities. Abu-Lughod’s scholarship is impeccable and her book extremely well written.

John Friedmann, Professor Emeritus, UCLA

Abu-Lughod nicely characterizes the distinctive feel and experience of the three cities. She works her way through the history, the statistics, and the economic forces, but she ends up on the sidewalk, marveling at the complexity that has been created by an extraordinary history, and enamored of it. What is most urgent about her book is not so much her analysis of the urban condition as her devotion to cities. The city has been under attack by theorists and sprawlers for a long time now, but this fine book provides necessary examples of how the city may be intelligently loved.

Nathan Glazer in The New Republic

A revealing study of the forces of globalization that have swept three major American cities over the last century. A prolific sociologist and professor emerita, Abu-Lughod singles out New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles as America’s ‘global cities’ shaped by the increased importance of business services, a dichotomized class structure and the internationalization of commerce. Globalization, she insists, is much older than many scholars understand, with the seeds firmly in place in the mid-19th-century. A central thesis here is that, since 1973, the class and income gap between rich and poor Americans has widened sharply thanks to regressive government policies, cutbacks in entitlements and a tax system that shifts wealth upwards from the poor and the middle classes to corporations and the wealthy. The writing, which is unusually vigorous and incisive for so academic a tome, and the scores of photographs and maps, will secure a place for this book well beyond the drafting tables of aspiring city planners.

Publishers Weekly

In a pathbreaking analysis, Abu-Lughod demonstrates the historical roots of what is usually described as a contemporary phenomenon.

MultiCultural Review

Substantial, in-depth comparison of more than one large city by a single urban scholar, while not unprecedented, is a difficult project to execute competently. Abu-Lughod has done a commendable job. One can only hope that others will follow her pioneering work and provide comparative and historical analyses of other global cities.

Urban Geography

For those of us who are interested in historical-geographical approaches to comparative urbanization, Janet Abu-Lughod’s new work, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles: America’s Global Cities, comes as a welcome relief. This impressive volume provides a comprehensive, readable, and lively interpretation of the three leading U.S. metropolitan areas. Although Abu-Lughod is a trained urban sociologist, she has a keen sensitivity to historical, spatial, economic, political, and cultural considerations…its real strengths lie in an exhaustive review of empirical evidence from the three metropolises and a rich illustration of points with abundant maps, tables, and figures. Abu-Lughod excels in profiling the trajectories of America’s three largest city-regions. I find the book to be a tour de force, the worthwhile result of many years of study and observation. Happily, the book presents the material in a straightforward way and is remarkably free of the jargon that sometimes plagues global-city studies. I hope the book receives wide circulation. Abu-Lughod, after a long scholarly career in urban studies, may have achieved her magnum opus in this ambitious study of America’s three preeminent global cities.

Geographical Review

Abu-Lughod has produced the best comparative analysis that has ever been written of American metropolises. Far superior to the global city studies, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles combines the particular and the general, is alive to the problem of agency, and pays close attention to the actions of the state and of local elites. A great book that all scholars of American cities should read.

Historical Geography

Janet Abu-Lughod’s book is both a fascinating history of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles and a history of the United States from a new perspective. The stories of the three cities are beautifully overlapped but consistent in themselves, related to one another but self-sufficient. This is a very American book-despite the author’s wealth of experience abroad. Her forte is the new narrative she weaves from existing research. It comes with a gigantic apparatus of footnotes and bibliography-more than 150 pages in total. The book provides a remarkably systematic and organized narrative of urbanization in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is also replete with a collection of individual anecdotal evidence and an impressive multitude of single conceptual and metaphorical observations that are often hidden in the empirical material presented throughout the book. This book represents an outstanding achievement. It will be-and deserves to be-an instant classic. Abu-Lughod’s major opus is expressive of a life’s work among the great American urbanists and planners of the 20th century. Abu-Lughod is a living example of what the best of urbanism can produce in a largely suburban America. In this sense, the book gives planners a giant source of inspiration: the big picture in long waves. The city lives despite itself.

Roger Keil, Journal of the American Planning Association

Janet L. Abu-Lughod’s book is the first to compare [these cities] in an ambitious in-depth study that takes into account each city’s unique history, following their development from their earliest days to their current status as players on the global state.

Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society

Janet L. Abu-Lughod successfully convinces us that historicizing and analyzing city spaces shows how historical forces operate to construct material social relations.

ebr: Electronic Book Review

An excellent analysis of America’s global cities. Recommended to students of urban development and of international political economy, and to anyone else interested in understanding the place in which they live.

Contemporary Sociology

New York, Chicago, Los Angeles will become an important gateway for scholars interested in exploring the details of these cities’ long arc of development, as well as the scholarly literature that has sought to explain their life, economic conditions, and politics.

Journal of Politics

An ambitious piece of scholarship which only promises to enrich Janet L. Abu-Lughod’s legacy as one of sociology’s premiere observers of the urban environment.

American Journal of Sociology

An extraordinary scholarly achievement by one of the world’s most respected urbanists. The book is essential reading for anyone who studies global cities, and it will captivate anyone with even passing interest in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles.

Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

Great books provoke arguments, stimulate thinking, and improve our knowledge and understanding. Janet L. Abu-Lughod’s New York, Chicago, Los Angeles is a great book that all scholars of American cities should read.

Historic Geography