The history of public policy in postwar America tends to fixate on developments at the national level, overlooking the crucial work done by individual states in the 1960s and ’70s. In this book, Nicholas Dagen Bloom demonstrates the significant and enduring impact of activist states in five areas: urban planning and redevelopment, mass transit and highways, higher education, subsidized housing, and the environment. Bloom centers his story on the example set by New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, whose aggressive initiatives on the pressing issues in that period inspired others and led to the establishment of long-lived state polices in an age of decreasing federal power. Metropolitan areas, for both better and worse, changed and operated differently because of sustained state action—How States Shaped Postwar America uncovers the scope of this largely untold story.
About the Author
Nicholas Dagen Bloom is associate professor of history at New York Institute of Technology.
“Bloom provides a needed reminder of how significant state governments were to urban development and planning in the mid-twentieth century. . . . The moral of the many stories is that in today's political climate, urban Americans may again need to look to state governments.”
“Extensively researched, How States Shaped Postwar America leaps beyond the history of state and municipal politics to address state governance’s role in urban issues in housing finance, public health, infrastructure, and education. Bloom provides a rich history of state governments’ role in addressing urban challenges. The result is a major contribution to the understanding of state government and its impact on urban policy.”
— Susan M. Wachter
“Bloom makes a forceful argument that scholars of urban history and planning miss important aspects of urban development if they ignore the role played by state governments. How States Shaped Postwar America aims to document that role. In clearly written and very readable prose, Bloom covers an impressive range of policy areas and offers succinct, cogent analysis of policy developments and the state’s role within them.”
— Tracy Steffes
“Bloom’s book breaks new ground and makes a real contribution. It is a needed corrective to historians’ neglect of state government and superbly illuminates the role of the states in metropolitan development.”
— Jon Teaford