Publication Date

April 1, 2003

Perspectives Section


The Urban History Association's 2002 annual award for the best book in North American urban history was conferred upon Robert M. Fogelson for his book, Downtown, Its Rise and Fall, 1880–1950 (Yale University Press, 2001), in which he addressed one of the central questions of urban history. Taking his subject from the late 19th century, when downtown was synonymous with the business district, through the interwar years when it meant the central business district, to the mid-20th century when it became just another business district, Fogelson argues that downtowns declined despite, and in part because of, efforts to maintain their importance. Even for scholars who disagree with his findings, Fogelson’s book will form the foundation for historical research on downtowns.

The association's prize for the best article in urban history went to Mary Corbin Sies, for her "North American Suburbs, 1880–1950: Cultural and Social Reconsiderations," (The Journal of Urban History, March 2001). In this article, Sies combined a reexamination of the prevailing literature with a telling comparison of data between four suburbs to suggest a new research agenda for historians through both micro- and macroanalysis.

The association awarded its prize for the best dissertation in urban history to Matthew William Klingle, for "Urban by Nature: An Environmental History of Seattle, 1880–1970" (University of Washington, 2001). In this work, Klingle merges urban and environmental history in a way that is both striking in the depth and breadth of its research as well as sophisticated and original in its argument. This interdisciplinary study of spatial development makes a very interesting argument about the relationship between "the city" and "nature." Its examination of the construction of urban space is a significant contribution to both environmental and western urban history.

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