The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992 Page: 2
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2 Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Historians have also noted the limited impact of the New Deal in cities.
In Pittsburgh, Bruce Stave concluded, the New Deal relieved unem-
ployment and improved the housing situation somewhat, but had little
effect on the more lasting problems of economic stagnation and physi-
cal decay. A number of studies suggest that, rather than undermine the
strength of big city political machines, Roosevelt supported those bosses
loyal to national Democratic platforms and policies. Charles H. Trout
found that "during the entire New Deal policies from Washington al-
tered Boston, but just as surely Boston modified federal programs."
Or, as Zane Miller summarized: "The federal response to depression in
the cities was conservative. The New Deal's urban policy neither en-
visaged nor produced a radical transformation of metropolitan form
In recent years, however, some historians concerned with the excep-
tionalism of southern cities have designated the 193os as the time when
sweeping changes engendered by the New Deal began to narrow the
gap between urban Dixie and northern municipalities. Although em-
phasizing the distinctiveness of southern cities overall, David R. Gold-
field conceded that the pace of change accelerated rapidly in the twen-
tieth century. The watershed, he contended, was the New Deal, since,
"the federal government paid for the capital facilities in southern cities
that northern cities had paid for themselves in earlier decades and on
which they were still paying off the debt. The almost-free moderniza-
tion received by southern cities would prove to be an important eco-
nomic advantage in subsequent decades." In The New Deal zn the Urban
South, Douglas L. Smith looked at four southern cities-Atlanta, Bir-
mingham, Memphis, and New Orleans-and suggested that the in-
volvement of the federal government in local affairs during the 1930os
resulted in significant changes. He concluded that public works and
housing initiatives altered southern cityscapes, New Deal relief agen-
cies paved the way for the establishment for the first time of social wel-
fare agencies, organized labor established new footholds, and black
On New Deal historiography, see Richard S. Kirkendall, "The New Deal as Watershed The
Recent Literature," Journal of American History, LIV (Mar., 1968), 839-852, Jerold S Auer-
bach, "New Deal, Old Deal, or Raw Deal Some Thoughts on New Left Historiography," Jour-
nal of Southern Hitory, XXXV (Feb., 1969), 18-30, Alonzo L. Hamby (ed ), The New Deal. Analy-
szs and Interpretation (New York- Longman, 1981); and Harvard Sltkoff (ed.), Fifty Years Later.
The New Deal Evaluated (New York" Alfred A. Knopf, 1985)
2Bruce M. Stave, "Pittsburgh and the New Deal," in John Braeman, Robert H. Bremner, and
David Brody (eds.), The New Deal The State and Local Levels (Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State Uni-
versity Press, 1975), 376-402; Lyle W. Dorsett, "Kansas City and the New Deal," in Braeman,
Bremner, and Brody (eds ), The New Deal, 407-418; Roger Biles, Big City Boss in Depresszon and
War Mayor Edward J Kelly of Chicago (DeKalb. Northern Illinois University Press, 1984);
Charles Hathaway Trout, Boston, the Great Depresszon, and the New Deal (New York: Oxford Unim-
versity Press, 1977), 315 (1st quotation), Zane L. Miller, The Urbanzzation of Modern America A
Brief History (New York. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973), 168-169 (2nd quotation)
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992, periodical, 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/m1/30/: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.