City of Ambition: FDR, LaGuardia and the Making of Modern New York; The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream
by Mason B. Williams; Thomas Dyja,
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 30, 2013
"Chicago liked watching things being built," the late Severn Darden, an original member of The Second City comedy troupe, once said. "New York audiences like to watch things that are already completed and polished."
Darden is scarcely the only person to compare New York and Chicago -- or to reflect on their distinctive qualities. After all, with the possible exception of Los Angeles, which is really a collection of suburbs connected by highways, they are America's quintessential cities.
Two books published this spring capture the dynamism and the defects of New York and Chicago during their heydays in the middle of the 20th century. They remind us that, for better and worse, our great urban centers have been magnets for immigrants, seedbeds for creativity and innovation in public and private activity, and stimulants of modernity and mass-market culture.
Read the full article (PDF)