Book review of The City is the Frontier, by Charles Abrams

Commentary, Vol. 41, No. 3, March 1966, pp. 93-95.


In 1960 the Ford Foundation made grants of $25,000 each to ten authorities on housing and planning, in order to induce them to set down their thoughts on urban renewal. One of the ten was Charles Abrams, a former chairman of the New York State Rent Commission and the State Commission Against Discrimination, and now the chairman of the city planning department of Columbia University. The City is the Frontier is his report. He has placed chapters on general city problems fore and aft, but the book is mainly about renewal. Although it contains a good many facts and figures, it is—as the foundation intended it to be—essentially a “think piece” and not a systematic empirical study. Incidentally, none of the other grantees seems to have come up with anything publishable, so apparently Mr. Abrams’s book is all that the foundation is going to get for its money.