Progressive Cities and Neighborhood Planning

Guide and Comment on a Digital Collection

Welcome to our online resource about progressive cities and neighborhood planning.

Purpose. In the late 1960s, U.S. cities faced urban policies that tolerated job losses and neighborhood decline. It was effectively a national retreat from public sector commitments established in the New Deal period, and it soon became the dominant modus operandi in city and nation.

But a few cities fought back by opening their city halls to wider participation and by redistributing resources to poor neighborhoods. Our purpose is to establish the reality and preserve the memory of these efforts.

This website links to several kinds of resources, but we present our main content under three topics:

CITIES were our beginning point: initially Berkeley, Burlington, Cleveland, Hartford and Santa Monica as the result of extensive research (interviews, key documents) that resulted in the publication of The Progressive City (1986), later Boston and Chicago — Activists in City Hall (2010).  Alongside these students produced theses and dissertations, and other scholars deposited materials on other cities.

NEIGHBORHOODS were as important as cities, though we are only at the beginning stages of organizing this part of the collection.

PEOPLE & ORGANIZATIONS. Alongside our research on cities, we made connection with cross-cutting national organizations, notably the Conference on Alternative State and Local Policies. Later we added the beginnings of coverage of other cross-cutting organizations and collections: Planners Network, Planners for Equal Opportunity, and the Paul Davidoff Collection.



The Collection. This website is based on a physical collection in the Rare and Manuscript Collections division (RMC) of the Cornell Library — Guide to the Progressive Cities and Neighborhood Planning Collection, 1969-2005.

Digital Collection. The website you’re currently looking at includes “pages” but also links to other resources – principally a digital collection named “Progressive Cities and Neighborhood Planning” managed by Cornell University Library, Digital Scholarship and Preservation Services. That collection, available through Cornell’s eCommons digital repository, consists of documents and other items such as video recordings, interview, seminar and lecture transcripts, and publications that are in the public domain or for which we have obtained permission. A site map indicates these resources with the URL for each.

Cornell’s digital collection has its own organization and formatting, one notable advantage being the commitment to permanent URLs. The current website, while linking to the Cornell items, provides additional structure in the form of pages and posts through the WordPress software, and users are free to access the material through either site: eCommons or the current WordPress site at .

Posted Comment. The “blog” feature made it possible to incorporate comment on the materials included in the collections. (It was not a blog in the usual, up-to-date sense.) We posted a brief “History of the Project So Far” in 2013 that expands on this up to that time. Other posts have included interpretive comment and notifications of new materials and features added to the collections and sites.

Bibliography. Material in the site suggests many references that cannot be posted for copyright reasons or our own limitations of time or funding. Where possible these lacks are compensated by a bibliography, updated from time to time.

Contributors & Contacts.
People have contributed to the site in various ways, and we attempt to identify them all, with updates and thanks as we go on.

You can stay connected with the work of this site by subscribing below for notifications of updates to the site’s content, or by registering and logging in as a WordPress user, which lets you comment on blog postings.