Politics and Growth Since World War II
Between 1940 and 1980, the Sunbelt region of the United States grew in population by 112 percent, while the older, graying Northeast and Midwest together grew by only 42 percent. Phoenix expanded by an astonishing 1,138 percent. San Diego, Houston, Dallas–Fort Worth, Tampa, Miami, and Atlanta quadrupled in size. Even a Sunbelt laggard such as New Orleans more than doubled its population. Sunbelt Cities brings together a collection of outstanding original essays on the growth and late-twentieth-century political development of the major metropolitan areas below the thirty-seventh parallel. The cities surveyed are Albuquerque, Atlanta, Dallas–Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, and Tampa. Each author examines the economic and social causes of postwar population growth in the city under consideration and the resulting changes in its political climate. Major causes of growth such as changing economic conditions, industrial recruitment, lifestyle preferences, and climate are discussed. Particular attention is paid to the role of the federal government, especially the Pentagon, in encouraging development in the Sunbelt. Describing characteristic political developments of many of these cities, the authors note shifting political alliances, the ouster of machines and business elites from political power, and the rise of minority and neighborhood groups in local politics. Sunbelt Cities is the first full-scale scholarly examination of the region popularly conceived as the Sunbelt. As one of the first works to thoroughly examine a wide range of cities within the region, it has served as a standard reference on the area for some time.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
Economic growth and political change in twelve Sunbelt cities, assessed by local academics (for the most part) - with an excellent introductory examination of the Sunbelt phenomenon, by the editors (historians at Marquette and at Clayton Junior College, Morrow, GA, respectively). Bernard and Rice trace the origin of the Sunbelt concept; discuss the difficulty of defining the area ("what does emerge is a sort of consensual Sunbelt that generally follows the 37th parallel. . ."); and note four common growth factors - WW II defense spending, "other federal outlays, a favorable business climate, and an attractive quality of life." Specific mention is made of the interstate highway system and urban redevelopment, among federal programs; and of local government latitude (including an anti-union bias), combined with a "growth ethic," among the business attractants. The political decline of go-go economic elites is attributed to suburban fragmentation (more successfully resisted, however, than in the Northeast) and to minority and neighborhood politics. To a degree, the profiles of the twelve cities - Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, Tampa, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego - follow a set pattern; thus, each is at least minimally informative. Otherwise, they differ considerably: in vitality and acuity, from the bland account of Miami, the kneehole-view of Tampa, the opinionizing on Albuquerque, the pedestrian entries on Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Phoenix (the latter particularly superficial), to the dash and sweep and multifaceted detailing of David Clark's Los Angeles. The coverage of Atlanta, by editor Rice, and New Orleans, by Arnold R. Hirsch, combines crisp distinctions and effective personalizing. (Hirsch is particularly good on activist mayors Morrison, Landrieu, and Morial.) Though not lively, editor Bernard's wrap-up of Oklahoma City and David Johnson's of San Antonio are first-rate chronicles of the workings of business leadership - and, in the latter instance, its strategic retrenchment under ethnic pressure. The antiurban complexion of San Diego is well portrayed by Anthony Corso. Omens for the future: blacks losing ground everywhere; environmental problems unresolved. At the least: utilitarian summaries-cum-bibliographies. For students of growth politics and other subtopics, a reliable overview. (Kirkus Reviews)