The 2023 Docomomo US theme Revisiting Urban Renewal was chosen with the ambitious aim of “seeking to revisit and better understand the complexity of the projects that were built, their significance, positive and negative impacts, and their legacy today.” The theme came with the heightened awareness that many urban renewal strategies have had a “vastly negative impact on historically underrepresented communities, ended up decimating downtowns, and destroyed significant historic urban fabric.”
In the course of the year the theme was explored at the National Symposium, as part of Tour Day events, and in numerous discussions and activities carried out by Docomomo chapters across the country. To close out the year independent scholar Karol R. Williams has guest edited a special edition of the Docomomo US online newsletter. The five articles and three video recordings assembled help us understand and address the role of community and socio-political influences on the design of our cities and towns. The range and breadth of these articles and recordings is extensive:
Read all the articles in the special edition
The following three presentations, originally given in person at the 2023 Docomomo US National Symposium in New Haven, are being made available for free. They were particularly compelling talks and help fill a geographic gap from the five articles above.
Museums of the Future: How Redevelopment Shaped San Francisco’s Public Art; Hannah Simonson
This presentation examines the historic context and legacy of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency’s contributions to the city’s public art and open spaces. In many ways, the agency’s early projects in the 1960s through 1980s were a proving ground for how percent-for-art programs could benefit the city, although these benefits were not seen equitably across the city. The presentation further discusses challenges for the ongoing maintenance and preservation of these artworks, as well as positive actions being taken toward documentation and long-term planning for stewardship and interpretation.
Activating: Communities and Anti-Highway Protest Along Southwest Corridor [Boston]; Mary Hale
Hale discusses the multiple agents involved in the making and management of Ruggles Station to better understand the degree to which this project can be understood as one element of a larger contested urban landscape.
An Oasis for the Privileged Few: Urban Renewal as Reported by The Chicago Defender; Lisa Napoles
The Chicago Defender newspaper was founded by Robert Sengstacke Abbott in 1905. Focusing on the day to day lives of Black Chicagoans, the weekly covered news, politics, and culture. The Defender took a firm stance against the racial, social, and economic injustice experienced by Black Americans. As a result, the newspaper grew in renown, and was distributed far beyond Chicago, including by Black Pullman porters who worked on the Illinois Central Railroad, which ran between Chicago and New Orleans. This presentation sets aside the dominant historical narrative of urban renewal in Chicago and focuses instead on the Chicago Defender’s reporting of how the interventions of the University of Chicago and city government impacted the lives of Black residents in Hyde Park.
Watch the three presentations via Vimeo