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A National Urban Policy? Not So Fast

Carolyn Kaster
AP File Photo


Attempts to establish a national urban policy have popped up and failed throughout U.S. history.  

For example, in 1959, a Senate subcommittee heard testimony related to two bills. The first to provide for the establishment of a Commission on Metropolitan Problemsand the second to provide for the establishment of a Department of Urbiculture.

Experts testified in support of studying urban issues. One of them was the then-mayor of Philadelphia, Richardson Dilworth, who said, “We are justly concerned with developing a national defense policy, a national farm policy, a national fiscal policy, etc. The time is long past due when we developed a national urban policy.”

Neither bill became law that session. Indeed, 50 years later, President Obama found himself making a similar pitch.

The U.S. has never had a national, comprehensive urban policy

Read the full version of this report at Keystone Crossroads' websiteKeystone Crossroads is a new statewide public media initiative reporting on the challenges facing Pennsylvania's cities. WPSU is a participating station.

Irina Zhorov was WESA’s reporter for Keystone Crossroads, a statewide public media initiative focused on issues in older Pennsylvania communities.