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Space, power and governance in mid-twentieth century British cities

Reconstructing modernity assesses the character of approaches to rebuilding British cities during the decades after the Second World War. It explores the strategies of spatial governance that sought to restructure society and looks at the cast of characters who shaped these processes. It challenges traditional views of urban modernism as moderate and humanist, shedding new light on the importance of the immediate post-war for the trajectory of urban renewal in the twentieth century. The book shows how local corporations and town planners in Manchester and Hull attempted to create order and functionality through the remaking of their decrepit Victorian cities. It looks at the motivations of national and local governments in the post-war rebuilding process and explores why and how they attempted the schemes they did. What emerges is a picture of local corporations, planners and city engineers as radical reshapers of the urban environment, not through the production of grand examples of architectural modernism, but in mundane attempts to zone cities, produce greener housing estates, control advertising or regulate air quality. Their ambition to control and shape the space of their cities was an attempt to produce urban environments that might be both more orderly and functional, but also held the potential to shape society.

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James Greenhalgh

Conclusion At the core of this book have been two central questions: who was responsible for shaping British cities in the decade or so that followed the Second World War, and what were the consequences of their actions and experiences for the trajectory of urban renewal in the twentieth century? It is worth dealing with these questions together before coming to some more general conclusions about the study of urban modernism presented in this book. The primary drivers of change, both well before the war and in the immediate aftermath, were the city corporations

in Reconstructing modernity
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James Greenhalgh

cities between the end of the war and the late 1950s. It asks how town planners, architects and local governments sought to create and govern urban space; it questions their objectives and examines the motivations that went into remaking British cities. Alongside this, it considers what consequences their successes and failures had for the trajectory of planned urban renewal that occupied the middle five decades of the twentieth century.6 In doing so, it asks how we might reinterpret the character of urban modernism that came to define these attempts to replan British

in Reconstructing modernity
James Greenhalgh

set of interventions in both newly created and extant environments, seeking to map their own notions of urban modernity onto the totality of their cities’ space. The ways these attempts were challenged by central government, commercial interests and inhabitants reveals a contested picture of British modernity, demonstrating why even the more realistic elements of the Plans were often hard to implement. In doing so, it also shows how the project of urban modernism faced significant, fundamental challenges to its ordering schemes almost as soon as it began, whilst

in Reconstructing modernity
James Greenhalgh

their designs and the difficulties they faced. Whilst, of course, being practical attempts to address the long-standing shortage of housing and alleviate slum conditions, plans for social housing were also socio-spatial schemes to engender community and sociability, which reveal governmental concerns about the nature of society as a whole. The successes and failures experienced add to the story of urban modernism in the post-war period, showing local corporations learning hard lessons about the limits of their influence, the size of the state and their effectiveness

in Reconstructing modernity
James Greenhalgh

contradictory. Examining the Plans against planning schemes from the inter-war period, whilst considering the use of wartime rhetorics of civilian ­sacrifice, starts to disrupt the coherency of the Plans as single-voiced documents. Understanding which elements of the Plans were new, what was merely repackaged and who produced them begins to open up potential conclusions about local government, the effects of the war and the importance and character of urban modernism. The close attention to continuity and change, as I suggested in the introduction to the book, is thus

in Reconstructing modernity
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Andrew Smith

–71; Christina Britzolakis, ‘Phantasmagoria: Walter Benjamin and the Poetics of Urban Modernism’, pp. 72–91; Nigel Mapp, ‘Spectre and Impurity: History and the Transcendental in Derrida and Adorno’, pp. 92–123; Ken Gelder and Jane M. Jacobs, ‘The Postcolonial Ghost Story’, pp. 179–99. 11 Julian Wolfreys

in The ghost story, 1840–1920
James Greenhalgh

. Shedding light on the lived experience and agency of the inhabitants of mid-twentieth-century social housing, this final chapter continues where chapter 3 left off to demonstrate how the project of urban modernism and the ambitions of planners were challenged at street level by the very ordinary, quotidian habits of the very people for whom the estates were designed. As I showed in chapter 3, expectations about how certain spaces should function, what it was appropriate to do in them and the beneficial outcomes they were supposed to produce meant mapping certain

in Reconstructing modernity
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Tourist images of late imperial Vienna
Jill Steward

: Theory and Works (London, Art Data, 1995), p. 54. 3 C. E. Schorske, ‘The Ringstrasse, its critics and the birth of urban modernism’, in C. Schorske, Fin-de-siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture, (New York, Knopf, 1980), pp. 24–115. 4 See L. Wolff, Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment, (Stanford CA, Stanford University Press, 1994). 5 Wickham Steed, The Hapsburg

in Imperial cities
Childhood and rurality in film
Owain Jones

, dwelt lives. To put it simply, to be poor and oppressed in an authentic rural landscape is better than being poor and oppressed in an urban setting. In the former, attachment of place, nature and landscape and the depth of belonging in community gives you something; in the latter, all that is swept away by the mobility and anonymity of life. This is the anti-urban/modernism which has been a driving

in Cinematic countrysides