One of the purposes of the Progressive Cities and Neighborhood Planning blog and website is to open up this topic to researchers, including graduate and undergraduate students. Several channels for investigation exist from the materials cited and included in these sites:
1- The progressive city as a type. One of the big questions in urban politics is whether and how cities can affect their fates. Peterson argues their options are restricted to housekeeping functions – redistributive measures tend to be off the table. Stone counters with a typology that includes neighborhood protection regimes, but gives us little hope they will last long or occur with much frequency. Frug argues that cities are hampered by a lack of juridical authority.
The progressive city cases counter these arguments empirically, but much more can be learned.
2- Historical antecedents. There may be a lot to be learned making comparisons between latter day “progressive cities” and “socialist” cases like Reading, Milwaukee, Bridgeport and others of the Debsian socialist period; or of “progressive mayors” like Tom Johnson in Cleveland, Samuel Jones in Toledo; and there are many less well-known examples.
3- Many progressive cases were demographically white and middle class constituencies, but espoused racially and otherwise inclusionary principles; while others were minority controlled. But race was problematic in all cases: what devices, if any, did the progressive cities employ that got them past racial divisiveness to effective policy making?
4- Real estate developers and the allied “growth coalition” became not only academic, but popular political categories in progressive cities, and they have been a major constant across the decades and cities. How did neighborhood groups and other progressives conceive and counter, perhaps moderate their influence?
5- Overtly redistributive local policies like rent control, linkage, and local jobs policies were prominent in progressive cities, but recent shifts toward more middle class populations mix are said to have reduced support for them. What evidence is there for the alleged changes, and for the reduced political support?
6- Progressive plans played roles in some “progressive cities” — Cleveland, Chicago — less so in others — Boston. What are the details? Did it matter?