In her provocative book, acclaimed urbanist Roberta Brandes Gratz – voted one of Planetizen’s top 100 urban thinkers – challenges the conventional wisdom on how cities authentically regenerate. Through the clashing visions of postwar urban renewal (highway building czar Robert Moses on the one hand and urbanist author and activist Jane Jacobs on the other), Gratz examines the fall and remarkable comeback of New York City and demonstrates how this story parallels that of many American cities. Battle For Gotham argues that New York City reached its lowest point after decades of destructive Moses projects, and began an organic regeneration with Moses’s demise and the cessation of his sweeping, federally funded projects that wiped out so much of the city. New York’s turnaround, Gratz illustrates, began with the small, local citizen-led efforts reflecting the urban philosophy of Jacobs.
“An intelligent analysis. Sensible, undoctrinaire, even good-humored. An appealing mixture of passion and clinical dispassion.” –Washington Post Book World. “The best antidote I’ve read to the doom-and-gloom prophecies concerning the future of urban America.” –Bill Moyers. “This is fresh and fascinating material; it is essential for understanding not only how to avoid repeating terrible mistakes of the past, but also how to recover from them.” –Jane Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities. From coast to coast across America there are countless urban success stories about rejuvenated neighborhoods and resurgent business districts. Roberta Brandes Gratz defines the phenomenon as “urban husbandry”—the care, management, and preservation of the built environment nurtured by genuine participatory planning efforts of government, urban planners, and average citizen.
(Note: The 1st edition is available direct from the author for $15 with a printed version of the new introduction to the 2nd edition. Please contact roberta.gratz [at] gmail.com for more information.)
“In Cities Back from the Edge, Gratz and Mintz offer a love song for the city—their volume, attractively packaged and richly illustrated, is really a cookbook for downtown revitalization. It turns out the most valuable contribution to urban understanding of the year isn’t only a book, it’s also a bumper sticker: Think globally, act locally.” –The Wall Street JournalCities Back From the Edge was featured again in The New York Times. Frank Rich writes, “In their new book persuasively arguing for less grandiose, more indigenous urban renewal, Roberta Brandes Gratz and Norman Mintz write that a ‘collection of visitor attractions does not add up to a city’ whether those attractions are cultural centers, convention centers, aquariums, stadiums or enclosed malls.” –The New York Times
A Frog, A Wooden House, A Stream and A Trail: Ten Years of Community Revitalization in Central Europe (Rockefeller Brothers Fund, March 1, 2000).
For nine years, Gratz worked with William Moody of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in Central Europe advising citizens in cities and small town on the art of urban regeneration. This book length report describes many of these projects and their success after that period of time.
Chapters in the following books:
“Jane Jacobs: Environmental Preservationist” in What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs edited by Stephen A. Goldsmith, Lynne Elizabeth and Arlene Goldbard, New Village Press, 2010.
“Introduction: Authentic Urbanism and the Jane Jacobs Legacy” in Urban Villages and the Making of Communities, edited by Peter Neal, Spon Press (London & New York), 2003.
“Jane Jacobs” in American Rebels, edited by Jack Newfield, Nation Books, 2003.