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Lost Cities: Chicago’s South Side in the 1970s

Thursday Lecture Series, Exhaustion

dateMarch 5, 2015 timeThursday, 12:15pm EST location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
Illustration of city street at sunset

Any city at any historical moment is composed of many layers, including not only emergent and dominant forms of urbanism but also superseded, decaying, elapsed, or otherwise exhausted versions of itself. On the South Side of Chicago in the 1970s, the "lost cities" still visible and reachable in the landscape included remnants and ruins of the White City of the Columbian Exposition of 1893, the Black Metropolis that had been home to the golden age of Chicago blues, the industrial city that had once been one of the world's great manufacturing centers, the city of white-ethnic urban villages, the Cold War city designed for nuclear self-destruction via the Nike and Hercules missile programs, and more. Rotella's survey of these fallen or fading orders pursues a larger objective: an understanding of how the cultural complexity of an historical moment expresses the quality of density, the single trait that mostly crucially defines the city.