Slums and Skyscrapers

Urban Images, Symbols, and Ideology
  • Sam Bass WarnerJr.
Part of the Environment, Development, and Public Policy book series (EDPC)


Commonplace nineteenth-century popular imagery of the city states simultaneously that the city’s streets are paved with gold and that the city is a snare and destroyer of youth. The golden image was associated with overseas immigrants, and by extension with young rural Americans who moved to the city in the hope of finding wealth. The formula of the city as a destroyer of youth flourished in popular novels and theater and was really a part of the Victorian fascination with sex and crime. The tales and dramas in this genre pandered to a rural or unsophistocated urban audience’s prurient desires to hear about prostitution, gambling, and crime and to enjoy both the pleasures of views of the forbidden and the comfort of the moral ending in which evil was punished. In this sense, the voyeurism of the city-as-destroyer formula is continued today in our urban police and detective television shows.


Slum Dweller Ideological Change Democratic Capitalism Lower East Side Liberal Capitalism 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sam Bass WarnerJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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