Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
In theory, urban renewal is any effort to direct city planning toward the improvement of the physical infrastructure. In practice, in the United States it has often meant the seizing of “blighted” property by the federal government and its redevelopment by private enterprise, underwritten by federal grants or loans. Many of the largest public works that shape urban landscapes are urban renewal initiatives, including expressways, bridges, parks, stadiums, and housing projects. While urban renewal promised better low-income housing and citywide improvements to slow “white flight” to the suburbs, its execution remains controversial. Critics charge that renewal projects further marginalize the poor and minorities and destroy communities while subsidizing facilities for the upper classes. Public housing projects—a keystone of urban renewal—are today almost universally seen as a failure and are being torn down. Their destruction symbolizes changes in approach to urban renewal, where structural rehabilitation and selective demolition are now favored ...