From Warfare to Welfare: Defense Intellectuals and Urban Problems in Cold War America

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JHU Press, Sep 19, 2005 - History - 304 pages

During the early decades of the Cold War, large-scale investments in American defense and aerospace research and development spawned a variety of problem-solving techniques, technologies, and institutions. From systems analysis to reconnaissance satellites to think tanks, these innovations did not remain exclusive accessories of the defense establishment. Instead, they readily found civilian applications in both the private and public sector. City planning and management were no exception.

Jennifer Light argues that the technologies and values of the Cold War fundamentally shaped the history of postwar urban America. From Warfare to Welfare documents how American intellectuals, city leaders, and the federal government chose to attack problems in the nation's cities by borrowing techniques and technologies first designed for military engagement with foreign enemies. Experiments in urban problem solving adapted the expertise of defense professionals to face new threats: urban chaos, blight, and social unrest. Tracing the transfer of innovations from military to city planning and management, Light reveals how a continuing source of inspiration for American city administrators lay in the nation's preparations for war.


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I just cried. My late father Philip Wallick was mentioned along with the great work happening in NYC. Though this book of course has a certain theme and my dad is but a blip, I would encourage the author to TRY to get her hands on the 1969 Plan for New York City. A masterpiece of text, exquisite B&W photos by the reknowned Charles Harbutt, maps, and so much more. Thanks for this. I wish I had known about it so I could have shown my dad. Gratefully, Jennifer Wallick 


Planning for the Atomic Age Creating a Community of Experts
The City as a Communication System
Cybernetics and Urban Renewal
Urban Intelligence Gathering
MoonShot Management for American Cities
Cable as a Cold War Technology
Wired Cities
Note on Sources

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Page 267 - Peter Marris and Martin Rein, Dilemmas of Social Reform (New York: Atherton Press, 1967), pp.

About the author (2005)

Jennifer S. Light is an associate professor of communication studies, history, and sociology at Northwestern University.