GIOIELLI, Robert R. “‘We Must Destroy You to Save You:’ Baltimore’s Freeway Revolt.” In Environmental Activism and the Urban Crisis. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2014.
Not only does Gioielli neatly couch the story of Baltimorians’ fight against the city’s highway system in an environmental framework, but he also displays clearly the grassroots experience working with outside parties in the democratic process. The Baltimore story is also one of coalition-building amongst city people of color and suburban whites; as far as I can tell, there was no formal coalition of disparate groups formed in the fight against Trenton’s urban highway system. This is one interesting distinction of the Trenton example; another is the (up to this point) lack of evidence pointing to a race as a concern amongst local citizens.
AVILA, Eric. The Folklore of the Freeway: Race and Revolt in the Modernist City. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.
Avila’s book features stories of freeway revolts around the country and over time, focusing on communities of color. He contends that “if we limit our reading of the folklore of the freeway to the language of class and class struggle,” the role of race becomes obscure in the history of postwar urban highway construction. This is certainly true, but in my own research of the Assunpink Way and Trenton Freeway the publicized opposition to the projects are not so much racial – or any social marker, for that matter. They are small business owners hoping to retain their local community of shoppers. In addition to this scholarly contrast, I find much in Avila’s discussion of the modernist city – an idea very much on the minds of proponents of Trenton’s postwar highway system. He details the intellectual history of city planning as it pertains to traffic control, but also the bureaucratic process and intricate web of planners and engineers in postwar America; I hope to utilize this as a contextual backdrop for the Trenton story.
MOHL, Raymond A. “Stop the Road: Freeway Revolts in American Cities.” Journal of Urban History 30, no. 5 (July 2004): 674-706.
Mohl develops a set of “ingredients” that make up successful highway opposition in the postwar era – persistent activism and coalition-building; local official support; strong and historic planning traditions; legal action; and subsequent top-down support. Did opponents of the Trenton highway projects conform with this list? If so, how much? How did these actions and particulars help or hurt their fight? It would be interesting to test Trenton’s historical experience against this metric.
SHELTON, Kyle. “Building a Better Houston: Highways, Neighborhoods, and Infrastructural Citizenship in the 1970s.”Journal of Urban History 43, no. 3 (2017): 421-444.
Shelton’s notion of “infrastructural citizenship” is very intriguing. I wish to utilize this approach to examine how Trentonians used infrastructure in a civic manner. Small business owners delved into the tax system to display how the highway would bear down upon the community. Other locals vied for the historic preservation of Assunpink Creek – a notable site during the Revolutionary War in the Battle of Trenton. Shelton writes that “residents used infrastructural debates to assert their rights as citizens;” in postwar Trenton, it was not just residents protesting but community pillars like the South Broad Street Merchants Association. However, this is not to say that a majority of citizens opposed the highway plans. Other residents participated in new, revolutionary civic polling to display their support.
FISHER, Colin. Urban Green: Nature, Recreation, and the Working Class in Industrial Chicago. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015.
While Fisher’s study focuses on the early twentieth century and lacks any sort of urban highway construction, I believe it will help guide my research and analysis of the second part of Trenton’s highway opposition – those who wished to preserve the city’s popular Stacy Park. Fisher’s work examines the relationship working-class communities had with urban nature; were the park-minded opponents of Trenton’s highway working-class? Was it a broad base of class groups? How did different social groups use Stacy Park and how did they defend it? Another point Fisher – and others – makes is the connection locals make between nature and history. Trentonians also felt historically motivated; not just because of Stacy Park, but of nearby Assunpink Creek.
Tags: Roads, Parks, Water, Business, Class