by Simon Yamawaki Shachter, University of Chicago
On the United State’s West Coast, in the second half of the 19th century, four small towns grew into large cities: Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, California; and Los Angeles, California. Despite sharing similar political, economic, and demographic environments, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco developed notably pluralistic and prolific civil societies while Los Angeles’s became relatively smaller and more elite. Through a historical analysis of Los Angeles’s initial growth, I ask the question, why did Los Angeles develop the unique civil society that we still see today?
By Jan Lin, Occidental College
The area of Los Angeles that is made up of the Los Angeles Convention Center, its adjacent Crypto.com Arena (previously Staples Center), and LA Live is a vibrant tourism, sports, and entertainment showplace that exports “showtime” NBA basketball and Hollywood film and music culture to the U.S. and the rest of the world. Culture industries are leading sectors in Los Angeles just as finance/Wall Street is a leading sector in New York City. Luxury hotels and condominium towers have sprouted in the neighborhood in the last 15 years, some involving transnational Chinese investor visas or corporate capital including the JW Marriott hotel, the 4-towered Metropolis complex, and the 3-towered Oceanwide Plaza. Further north on Figueroa Street is the Wilshire Grand Center, which was financed by Hanjin/Korean Airlines and in 2017 took claim as the tallest building (including its spire) west of Chicago. Look at the top at night for the neon red and blue yin-yang Korean Air logo which alternates with the “I” brand logo of the on-site InterContinental Hotel.
Michigan State University
During one of my first weeks as a 2021 Fulbright researcher in Yerevan, Armenia, I explored the capital city’s oldest district, Kond. The Kond district and its ruins have been revitalized with street art and graffiti to attract locals and tourists alike. Immediately, the multiple references to Los Angeles stood out to me. Specifically, one large wall that I photographed reflected the transnational experience of the Armenian Diaspora with large text that read “Yerevan to L.A.” and “Little Armenia.” Six months later, in 2022, I traveled for my second phase of fieldwork in L.A. and saw a similar global conversation happening between diasporans and locals.
by Steven Schmidt, University of California Irvine
CUSS Newsletter, 2021 Summer, Vol 34, No 2
During a warm summer evening in Los Angeles, I interviewed Mabel on the sideline of her son’s baseball practice. A single mom from Guatemala, Mabel lives with her three kids in an apartment bedroom that she rents under the table from an older woman. Mabel sees the rented room as a stepping stone to owning a home: “I want to grow, to eventually have my own house. But for now with my situation, I have to wait a little longer to be able to do it.”[i] Later that year, I met Lisa, a middle-income white woman who rents a home about five minutes away from Mabel. Although her lease does not allow sublets, Lisa usually rents out one of her three bedrooms. I asked what she looks for in a roommate: “We don’t cook animal products, we eat organic, so a health-conscious person. We didn’t want more kids, that was just too much.” Sharing a home is relatively common in Los Angeles, where an estimated 47% of families live doubled-up, or with another adult who is not a romantic partner (Bretz, 2017). While many doubled-up renters live in multigenerational homes, Mabel and Lisa live with non-family members. How do renters find opportunities to rent spaces in other households, and how do families decide who they will allow to live with them?
Prentiss A. Dantzler
CUSS Newsletter, Summer 2018, Vol 30, No 3
Last time ASA was held in Philadelphia was 2005, the same year I graduated high school. A staple in urban sociology, Philly has undergone many significant changes since then. Being raised in West Philly, my younger years were quite different than that of the Fresh Prince. My childhood functioned somewhat between W.E.B. DuBois’ (1899) Philadelphia Negro and William Julius Wilson’s (1987) The Truly Disadvantaged. In a state of double consciousness, I constantly wondered (at least on a surface) why my neighborhood was the way it was. Countless other works within our field have helped me make sense of different aspects of my childhood. Why was my family adamant about sending me to Catholic school (even though they were not at all Catholic)? Why did I have to take 3 forms of transportation to get to high school while my peers drove in new cars and trucks? What happen to all of the public housing that stood tall in many of the Black neighborhoods? How did I make it out and why are others still in the same place? And better yet, why does “making it out” mean living in white spaces? As a late comer to sociology, the joys and perils of understanding these dynamics within community and urban sociology have largely shaped my reflection on the city of Brotherly Love – a place I still call home.
Michael R. Scott
University of Texas, Austin
David T. Marshall
CUSS Newsletter, Summer 2018, Vol 30, No 3
As we prepare for spending a few days in Philadelphia at ASA this year, we wanted to share a bit of our research. David has lived and worked in Philadelphia for a few years, and Mike is from not far away and visits often. That said, it’s made for personally compelling research. Given that we are education researchers, our research specifically is on schools. Therefore, we hope this article gives a preview of Philadelphia through our research on the public schools and the public transportation system.
Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
CUSS Newsletter, Summer 2017, Vol. 29, No 3.
This contribution should be read as a historical and sociological introduction to the city of Montreal for our American and Canadian guests attending the 112th ASA meeting here in August. But at the same time, the background here provided will be used to contextualize a research project comparing Montreal with three other Canadian cities (Halifax, Toronto and Vancouver) on their respective policies, programs and actions as gateway-cities. Among the questions raised, we want to know what is the role of the municipal government in this regard, the content of its policies and programs, which stakeholders are involved, and how these policies, programs and actions make their way through the filters of municipal democracy. Although a comparative study, only the Montreal segment will be presented.
London School of Economics
CUSS Newsletter. Summer 2016. Vol 28. No. 3
For those of you attending the Seattle annual meetings: Welcome to the northwestern edge of the Americas – “Cascadia” – a region I am proud to call home, even though I currently live some 5,000 miles away in an increasingly provincial archipelago known as the British Isles. If this is your first encounter with the Pacific Northwest, you may be scratching your head. What is Cascadia? And how can someone so far away still consider it “home”? I aim to answer these questions while briefly conveying some of the distinctive features that define the three largest Northwestern cities of Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland (see map in Figure 1), including innovations and inequalities. Cascadia, to begin, is a somewhat contested term (Helm 1993; Smith 2008; Abbott 2009). As a regional moniker, clearly it references the Cascade Range of mountains that run from northern California up to southern British Columbia. Its vernacular origins derive from popular depictions of the Pacific Northwest as a kind of “ecotopia” (Callenbach 1975; Garreau 1981), reflecting both a unique landscape and unusual society-environment rela-tionship. Seattle-based sociologist David McCloskey (1988: n.p.) developed the notion of a cross-border bioregion, noting that:
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
CUSS Newsletter, Summer 2015, Vol. 27, No. 3
Ernest Burgess’s essay, “The Growth of the City” presents us with one of the iconic images in urban sociology and beyond; the concentric zone model has been reprinted in virtually every textbook in urban geography, urban sociology, and more. Burgess is clear that the purpose of the model (or chart, as he labeled it) is to demonstrate the process of neighborhood succession, a central concept for the Chicago School: “In the expansion of the city a process of distribution takes place which sifts and sorts and relocates individuals and groups by residence and occupation. The resulting differentiation of the cosmopolitan American city into areas is typically all from one pattern, with only interesting minor modifications. Within the central business district or on an adjoining street is the “main stem” of “hobohemia,” the teeming Rialto of the homeless migratory man of the Middle West. In the zone of deterioration encircling the central business section are always to be found the socalled “slums” and “bad lands,” with their submerged regions of poverty, degradation, and disease, and their underworlds of crime and vice. Within a deteriorating area are roominghouse districts, the purgatory of “lost souls.” Near by is the Latin Quarter, where creative and rebellious spirits resort. The slums are also crowded to overflowing with immigrant colonies—the Ghetto, Little Sicily, Greektown, Chinatown—fascinatingly combining Old World heritages and American adaptations. Wedging out from here is the Black Belt, with its free and disorderly life.”
University of Colorado-Denver
CUSS Newsletter, Summer 2012, Vol. 24, No. 3
Denver, the Mile High City, is located where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains. Though the area was used as a hunting ground for Native Americans for thousands of years and explored by the Spanish as early as the 16th century, it was the discovery of gold in nearby Pikes Peak that lead to permanent settlement by fortune seekers in 1858. Denver quickly became a regional center due to the Colorado Gold Rush and other extractive booms and busts that continued for well over a century. Although experiencing a major economic downturn and loss of population in the 1980s as the regional oil and gas industry collapsed along with the savings and loan debacle, Denver today is the largest city in Colorado and the Mountain West (denver.org 2012). Similar to other urban areas in the South and West, the greater Denver area has grown rapidly in the last few decades, increasing by 50% between 1990 and 2010, with more than 2.75 million residents in the metropolitan area today (Piton 2011). Denver’s core has grown rapidly as well, to over 600,000 residents, an increase of more than 25% since 1990, after experiencing several decades of population decline (census.gov 2012).