We put this brief on B1 today because it should be considered a a big deal that Columbia University historian (and Memphis native) Kenneth T. Jackson is speaking in town tonight. Given his scholarship on the history and growth of suburban America, it will be interesting to see if anyone gets him to address some of the recent rezoning decisions by the City Council, as well as the controversy over the Union Avenue United Methodist Church location that CVS wants to convert into a drugstore.
When I first read Jackson's remarkable book, "Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States," I had no idea he was from Memphis. The book really opens your eyes to the ways in which local, state and federal governments really subsidized the creation of American suburbia and primed the pump that led to so much white flight (and now, middle-class flight). Though some part of me may have known it took taxpayer dollars to create the interstates, roads, sewer systems and artificially cheap energy necessary to sustain suburban living, Jackson's scholarship lays it out in surprisingly accessible detail.
The brief is below:
Columbia University professor Kenneth T. Jackson, one of the nation's pre-eminent historians and an alumnus of Memphis City Schools and the University of Memphis, will speak at 7 p.m. today at the meeting of the West Tennessee Historical Society at Memphis University School's Wunderlich Auditorium.
At Columbia, Jackson is the director of the Herbert H. Lehman Center for the Study of American History and the Jacques Barzun Professor of History and Social Sciences. Jackson's seminal book, "Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States," is considered one of the most important works of history in the latter decades of the 20th century.
Reprinted 29 times in paperback and five times in hardcover, "Crabgrass Frontier" was the first full-scale history of the development of American suburbia and has been described as an often critical examination of "how 'the good life' in America came to be equated with the a home of one's own surrounded by a grassy yard and located far from the urban workplace."
Among Jackson's other major works are: "Robert Moses and the Modern City: The Transformation of New York," "The Dictionary of American Biography," "Scribner's Encyclopedia of American Lives," "Silent Cities: the Evolution of the American Cemetery," "The Ku Klux Klan in the City," "American Vistas," "Empire City: New York Through the Centuries," and the "Encyclopedia of New York City" (seventh edition due in 2010).