The City Without a Ghetto

The urban planning wing of a museum of contemporary ideology

The City Without a Ghetto was a traveling exhibition produced by myself and Damon Rich for The Center for Urban Pedagogy. The exhibition looked at the received history of Urban Renewal, the much maligned Federal program that gave grants to municipalities to clear and redevelop “slum areas”. We aimed to illuminate the history of the program, but also provide a space to re-examine the supposed “lessons learned”.

For decades after its demise, the Urban Renewal program has served as a near universal straw man to represent the wrong way to develop a city. If you came from the left, Urban Renewal could stand in for corporate greed crushing tight-knit communities. If you came from the right, it could epitomize the overreach of government into the private sector. We wanted to take another look at the historical record to see what might have been lost in Urban Renewal's conversion from messy history to clear-cut cautionary tale. The exhibit used the visual strategies of a natural history museum to show how the history of Urban Renewal has shaped the way we look at and talk about private markets, government intervention and urban development.

The exhibition was developed as a cohesive environment but some of the individual components, namely the Urban Renewal Activity Tables and The Subsidized Landscape, went on to travel individually.