In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities Are Plundering Our Cities

Bold Type Books. Mar. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9781568588926. $28. SOC SCI
Across the United States, urban colleges and universities have successfully expanded by encroaching on adjacent low-income neighborhoods. While these campuses grow into “UniverCities,” it is frequently to the detriment of surrounding Black and Latinx neighborhoods as their history becomes buried under parking garages. While many argue there is a benefit to drawing students and residents back to urban centers, power and prosperity is often drawn from the surrounding areas that don’t benefit from this growth. From USC to Yale, Historian and Urbanist Baldwin (Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies, Trinity Coll.) examines this trend of unchecked university expansion and broken promises. Having interviewed individuals from universities and their surrounding communities, Baldwin shares case studies and experiences that suggest growth isn’t always as beneficial to a city as promised. The author presents a well-researched and objective case, with a deep dive into better known campuses including the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and Arizona State University. The book was completed recently enough to touch on the compounding effects of COVID-19 as well as protests against police brutality on urban campuses in 2020.
VERDICT Those interested in trends in urban planning or ethnic studies will appreciate Baldwin’s thoughtful exploration of urban campus sprawl.
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