Monday, April 29, 2013

Will we see more "long hot summers" soon?

My Roosevelt to Reagan and History of the American City students will recognize the phrase in quotation marks above--the "long hot summers": those dreadful and wrenching urban riots that tore apart hundreds of American cities between 1964 and 1968.

An interesting op-ed piece in today's New York Times (click here to read) suggests that American cities are not repeating those riots today even though the economy is dreadful because of policies of the first Obama administration. But those programs are now rapidly ending. According to Patrick Sharkey, a sociology professor at NYU, programs from the stimulus (remember that?) helped to destroy or rehabilitate abandoned buildings so they would not become crime spots, put teachers back into schools, and returned police to neighborhood streets. The problem, though, is that stimulus money has been spent.

And so Sharkey asks, "what comes next, now that the stimulus is over? A historical perspective on urban policy reveals a cycle in which periods of major investment are followed by periods of neglect, disinvestment and decline. This pattern is in the process of repeating."

Will American cities erupt in more "long hot summers"? 

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