Annotated Bibliography-JB

DiMento, Joseph F. C., Cliff Ellis, and Robert Gottlieb. Changing Lanes: Visions and Histories of Urban Freeways. Cambridge, UNITED STATES: MIT Press, 2012.

DiMento’s and Ellis’s book provides a sweeping overview of urban highway construction in the United States from the 1930s to the end of the twentieth century. This work lays out the public policy context of highway construction and will help me situate my research in the broader context of urban roadway scholarship. The book also includes a chapter of case studies, one of which follows litigation against the Century Freeway in Los Angeles. This section gave me a better sense of the local and national political interests that both drove and opposed highway construction in Los Angeles and will likely serve as an important backdrop in any analysis that I write about a specific Los Angeles neighborhood. The comparisons in that section – to both Memphis and to Syracuse – will guide me as I try to determine the scope of my conclusions both geographically and temporally.

Avila, Eric. “L.A.’s Invisible Freeway Revolt: The Cultural Politics of Fighting Freeways.” Journal of Urban History 40, no. 5 (September 1, 2014): 831–42.

            Eric Avila’s article discusses highway construction in the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. He argues that, while most accounts of resistance to freeways focus on wealthier neighborhoods like Beverly Hills, poorer neighborhoods of color also resisted – even if that resistance was creative, artistic, and cultural, and did not result in the defeat of the proposed projects. This analysis provides a helpful point of thematic comparison for my own study, especially since I am investigating neighborhoods that did, eventually end up being destroyed. His text prompts me to ask if and how West Adams and adjacent residents fought the freeway’s advance and makes me wonder if I will have to look at creative forms of resistance in addition to legal and political battles. Avila’s focus on the role that race, not just class, played in the plight of East Los Angeles residents is also crucial as I set out to analyze the destruction of an affluent Black neighborhood.  

Künzli, Nino, Rob McConnell, David Bates, Tracy Bastain, Andrea Hricko, Fred Lurmann, Ed Avol, Frank Gilliland, and John Peters. “Breathless in Los Angeles: The Exhausting Search for Clean Air.” American Journal of Public Health 93, no. 9 (September 1, 2003): 1494–99.

            This article, published in a public health journal, analyses the causes and impacts of air pollution in Los Angeles. This scientific study will help me broaden my analysis of the built environment to include the health impacts of living near a freeway. This context is crucial as I investigate the impacts of freeway construction in central Los Angeles. Not only will I need to familiarize myself with the pollution impacts of urban freeways, I will also need to compare these impacts to those stemming from other sources of pollution. This article is written with such scope in mind and will give me several points of reference when situating my study within the broader urban public health discourse of air pollution in Los Angeles.

Shelton, Kyle. “Building a Better Houston: Highways, Neighborhoods, and Infrastructural Citizenship in the 1970s.” Journal of Urban History 43, no. 3 (May 2017): 421–44.

            This article is a model study in urban freeway construction and grassroots resistance. Kyle Shelton details the fight of two different urban communities in Houston – one affluent and white, the other mostly poor and Black – against freeway construction in their neighborhoods. This article analyzes factors of race and class when comparing the rhetoric and strategies employed by each group. While I have not yet found conclusive evidence of popular resistance against the construction of I-10, this article lays out a model for diving deeper into this history in its bibliography – considering both the primary and secondary sources Shelton uses. The periodization here is also helpful: Shelton focuses on the 1960s and 1970s, which is the era I will be investigating. While Changing Lanes presents a case study on a Los Angele neighborhood, the Century Freeway fight happened much later than the construction of I-10 and therefore is positioned within a different political, social, and demographic context.

Nall, Clayton. “The Political Consequences of Spatial Policies: How Interstate Highways Facilitated Geographic Polarization.” Journal of Politics 77, no. 2 (April 2015): 394–406.


            Considering I am interested in exploring the demographic and social impacts of Interstate-10’s bisecting of the city of Los Angeles, this study in political realignment following highway construction gives me a place to start. Despite the fact that this article focuses on ideological realignment, not realignments of race and class, the latter two factors are included as context for the aforementioned political analysis. Clayton Nall argues that intraurban polarization and regional polarization both directly increased as a result of both urban and suburban freeway construction. I can use this analysis to both contextualize and bolster an argument about the demographic and social – and by extension disparate environmental – implications of freeway construction in Los Angeles.  

Key Words:

Race, Class, Roads, Community, Pollution