A Good Place to Do Business

The Politics of Downtown Renewal since 1945

Roger Biles and Mark H. Rose
Book Cover

PB: $39.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-2082-4
Publication: Oct 22

HC: $125.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-2081-7
Publication: Oct 22

360 pages
6 x 9
4 halftones, 6 maps

How six industrial cities in the American Rust Belt reacted to deindustrialization in the years after World War II


The “Pittsburgh Renaissance,” an urban renewal effort launched in the late 1940s, transformed the smoky rust belt city’s downtown. Working-class residents and people of color saw their neighborhoods cleared and replaced with upscale, white residents and with large corporations housed in massive skyscrapers. Pittsburgh’s Renaissance’s apparent success quickly became a model for several struggling industrial cities, including St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

In A Good Place to Do Business, Roger Biles and Mark Rose chronicle these urban “makeovers” which promised increased tourism and fashionable shopping as well as the development of sports stadiums, convention centers, downtown parks, and more. They examine the politics of these government-funded redevelopment programs and show how city politics (and policymakers) often dictated the level of success.

As city officials and business elites determined to reorganize their downtowns, a deeply racialized politics sacrificed neighborhoods and the livelihoods of those pushed out. Yet, as A Good Place to Do Business demonstrates, more often than not, costly efforts to bring about the hoped-for improvements failed to revitalize those cities, or even their downtowns.

About the Author(s)

Roger Biles is Professor Emeritus of History at Illinois State University and the author, coauthor, or editor of several books, most recently Mayor Harold Washington: Champion of Race and Reform in Chicago.

Mark H. Rose is Professor of History at Florida Atlantic University and the author, coauthor, or coeditor of seven books including Interstate: Highway Politics and Policy since 1939 and Market Rules: Bankers, Presidents, and the Origins of the Great Recession.


In the Series

  • Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy edited by David Stradling, Larry Bennett, and Davarian Baldwin

    The Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy Series, edited by David Stradling, Larry Bennett, and Davarian Baldwin, was founded by the late Zane L. Miller to publish books that examine past and contemporary cities. While preserving the series’ foundational focus on the policy, planning, and environmental issues so central to metropolitan life, we also join scholarly efforts to push the boundaries of urban studies. We are committed to publishing work at the shifting intersections of cultural production, community formation, and political economy that shape cities at all scales, from the neighborhood to the transnational.