“Saving America’s Cities: The Past, Present, and Future of Urban Revitalization” with Lizabeth Cohen, Shaun Donovan, and Sarah Whiting

Photos of city skylines

Can past efforts to revitalize America’s cities inform contemporary strategies to address the problems of economic inequality, unaffordable housing, segregated neighborhoods, and deteriorating infrastructure?

That question, in part, informs Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age, a new book by Lizabeth Cohen, Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies at Harvard University and former Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Logue, a New Deal liberal who made skillful use of once-plentiful federal funding for urban revitalization, was widely hailed – and sometimes sharply criticized – for his ambitious approaches to planning and architecture to revitalize New Haven, Boston, and a host of cities in New York State.

Cohen will discuss this history and will be joined in conversation by former HUD Secretary and OMB Director Shaun Donovan and GSD Dean Sarah M. Whiting. Together they will reflect on what Logue’s career suggests about the ways in which policy, planning, and design can address current urban challenges, including how these efforts might succeed without the substantial federal funding of Logue’s day.



Lizabeth Cohen is the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies in the History Department and a Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor. From 2011-18 she served as Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She is the author most recently of Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew American Cities in the Suburban Age (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2019). Her previous books include A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America and Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939.  Before joining the Harvard faculty, Cohen served in the history departments at Carnegie Mellon University and New York University. She received her MA and Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley and her A.B. from Princeton University.

Shaun Donovan served as Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget from 2014 to 2017 and as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2009 to 2014. From 2004 to 2009, he served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), where he created and implemented the largest municipal affordable housing plan in the nation’s history. He also has served as a senior strategist and advisor to the president of Harvard University and is a member of the Urban Institute’s board of trustees.  He

holds Master’s degrees in both Public Administration and Architecture from Harvard, where he also received a Bachelor’s degree.

Sarah M. Whiting, Dean and Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture, joined the Harvard Graduate School of Design as Dean in July 2019. She is a design principal and co-founder of WW Architecture, and served as the Dean of Rice University’s School of Architecture from 2010 to 2019. She also has taught at Princeton University, the University of Kentucky, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and the University of Florida. An expert in architectural theory and urbanism, Dean Whiting has particular interests in architecture’s relationship with politics, economics, and society and how the built environment shapes the nature of public life. Her work has been published in leading journals and collections, and she is the founding editor of Point, a book series aimed at shaping contemporary discussions in architecture and urbanism. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Yale University, her Master of Architecture from Princeton University, and her Doctor of Philosophy in the History and Theory of Architecture from MIT.

Presented by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies

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