BELIEVING IN CLEVELAND
J. Mark Souther, author of Believing in Cleveland: Managing Decline in the Best Location in the Nation will speak at the Coventry Branch of the CH-UH Public Library on Wednesday, November 1st at 7 p.m.
Detractors have called it "The Mistake on the Lake." It was once America's "Comeback City." According to author J. Mark Souther, Cleveland has long sought to defeat its perceived civic malaise. Believing in Cleveland chronicles how city leaders used imagery and rhetoric to combat and, at times, accommodate urban and economic decline.
Souther explores Cleveland's downtown revitalization efforts, its neighborhood renewal and restoration projects, and its fight against deindustrialization. He shows how the city reshaped its image when it was bolstered by sports team victories. But Cleveland was not always on the upswing. Souther places the city's history in the postwar context when the city and metropolitan area were divided by uneven growth. In the 1970s, the city-suburb division was wider than ever.
Believing in Cleveland recounts the long, difficult history of a city that entered the postwar period as America's sixth largest, then lost ground during a period of robust national growth. But rather than tell a tale of decline, Souther provides a fascinating story of resilience for what some folks called "The Best Location in the Nation."
"Believing in Cleveland is a powerful antidote to the simplistic, unidirectional narrative of decline that too often attends accounts of Rust Belt cities. Souther deftly interlaces stories of urban decay and revitalization, civic pessimism and optimism, despair over past mistakes and hope for a brighter future. Best of all, Souther traces these stories through real material spaces of the city. In the process, we see a wide range of actors at work and a city constantly grappling with its status in an urban nation. In this way, Believing in Cleveland sets a new standard for how we tell the story of postwar urban governance, municipal policy, and community development—a story where the richly layered interests of real people manifest in the streets, parks, plazas, and homes of the city."
—Joseph Heathcott, Associate Professor of Urban Studies, The New School
J. Mark Souther is also the author of New Orleans on Parade: Tourism and the Transformation of the Crescent City (LSU Press, 2006) and American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition, co-edited with Nicholas Dagen Bloom (Center for American Places, 2012)/ I have also written multiple articles and essays. In addition, He also directs or co-directs a range of public history and digital humanities projects, notably Cleveland Voices, Cleveland Historical, Curatescape, and Curating Kisumu.He is co-chair of local arrangements for the 17th National Conference on Planning History (sponsored by the Society of American City and Regional Planning History) in Cleveland on October 26-29, 2017.