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New towns for the Great Society: a case study in politics and planning

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This article deals with the US Congress's flawed legislative attempt in the late 1960s to address urban redevelopment's shortcomings by resurrecting resettlement programmes akin to the earlier garden city and greenbelt town designs. Despite the opposition of real estate and building interests, as well as public housing advocates and big city mayors, new towns legislation was passed in 1968 and 1970. The federal government provided financial assistance to the private developers who built the thirteen new towns in various locations around the country. By the early 1980s, however, officials of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development concluded that the experiment had failed in all but one of the thirteen new towns and arranged for bankruptcy and foreclosure proceedings. The article discusses the reasons for the inefficacy of this little-known Great Society programme and suggests that the episode reflected the chequered history of urban planning in the US.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1998-04-01

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