Fighting Sprawl and City Hall

Resistance to Urban Growth in the Southwest

Michael F. Logan (Author)
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The line is drawn in cities of the American West: on one side, chambers of commerce, developers, and civic boosters advocating economic growth; on the other, environmentalists and concerned citizens who want to limit what they see as urban sprawl. While this conflict is usually considered to have its origins in the rise of environmental activism during the late 1960s, opposition to urban growth in the Southwest began as early as the economic boom that followed World War II. Evidence of this resistance abounds, but it has been largely ignored by both western and urban historians.

Fighting Sprawl and City Hall now sets the record straight, tracing the roots of antigrowth activism in two southwestern cities, Tucson and Albuquerque, where urbanization proceeded in the face of constant protest. Logan tells how each of these cities witnessed multifaceted opposition to post-war urbanization and a rise in political activism during the 1950s. For each city, he describes the efforts by civic boosters and local government to promote development, showing how these booster-government alliances differed in effectiveness; tells how middle-class Anglos first voiced opposition to annexations and zoning reforms through standard forms of political protest such as referendums and petitions; then documents the shift to ethnic resistance as Hispanics opposed urban renewal plans that targeted barrios. Environmentalism, he reveals, was a relative latecomer to the political arena and became a focal point for otherwise disparate forms of resistance.

Logan's study enables readers to understand not only these similarities in urban activism but also important differences; for example, Tucson provides the stronger example of resistance based on valuation of the physical environment, while Albuquerque better demonstrates anti-annexation politics. For each locale, it offers a testament to grass-roots activism that will be of interest to historians as well as to citizens of its subject cities.
"The sweeping transformations of Tucson and Albuquerque from 1940s towns to today's metropolises often seem inevitable. In Fighting Sprawl and City Hall, Michael Logan thoroughly details this critical period of urban growth and the heightened conflict over that expansion in these two southwestern cities. . . . The book contributes important information about the forces, mainly government and business, that formed these sprawling cities."—Western Historical Quarterly

"A timely corrective to the story of southwestern urbanization following World War II. . . . As [Logan] notes, all of this resistance to growth in the urban Southwest continues today. Opposition became more visible in the 1970s and 1980s, but 'rarely with a recognition of the deep roots of the controversy.' In this excellent book, Logan sets the record straight by tracing those roots."—American Historical Review

"Logan should be congratulated for providing a beacon amid the endless array of stick-and-stucco subdivisions pressing ever outward. It takes courage to take on the development community; they have far more resources and mouthpieces to promote their side of the story."—Journal of Arizona History

"A most welcome addition to recent studies about emerging metropolitan regions . . . Beyond these case studies, Logan's larger concern is the causes and nature of local insurgency against seemingly incessant urban growth, a topic heretofore understudied."—Journal of American History
Fighting Sprawl and City Hall
223 Pages 6 x 9 x 0.7 Published: 1995 Paperback (9780816515530)
Ebook (9780816536719)

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