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The third coast: when Chicago built the American dream

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Publication Date:
2013
Language:
English

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A cultural history of Chicago at midcentury, with its incredible mix of architects, politicians, musicians, writers, entrepreneurs, and actors who helped shape modern America

Though today it can seem as if all American culture comes out of New York and Los Angeles, much of what defined the nation as it grew into a superpower was produced in Chicago. Before air travel overtook trains, nearly every coast-to-coast journey included a stop there, and this flow of people and commodities made it America's central clearinghouse, laboratory, and factory. Between the end of World War II and 1960, Mies van der Rohe's glass and steel architecture became the face of corporate America, Ray Kroc's McDonald's changed how people eat, Hugh Hefner unveiled Playboy, and the Chess brothers supercharged rock and roll with Chuck Berry. At the University of Chicago, the atom was split and Western civilization was packaged into the Great Books.

Yet even as Chicago led the way in creating mass-market culture, its artists pushed back in their own distinct voices. In literature, it was the outlaw novels of Nelson Algren (then carrying on a passionate affair with Simone de Beauvoir), the poems of Gwendolyn Brooks, and Studs Terkel's oral histories. In music, it was the gospel of Mahalia Jackson, the urban blues of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and the trippy avant-garde jazz of Sun Ra. In performance, it was the intimacy of Kukla, Fran and Ollie, the "Chicago School" of television, and the improvisational comedy troupe Second City whose famous alumni are now everywhere in American entertainment.

Despite this diversity, racial divisions informed virtually every aspect of life in Chicago. The chaos—both constructive and destructive—of this period was set into motion by the second migration north of African Americans during World War II. As whites either fled to the suburbs or violently opposed integration, urban planners tried to design away "blight" with projects that marred a generation of American cities. The election of Mayor Richard J. Daley in 1955 launched a frenzy of new building that came at a terrible cost—monolithic housing projects for the black community and a new kind of self-satisfied provincialism that sped up the end of Chicago's role as America's meeting place.

In luminous prose, Chicago native Thomas Dyja re-creates the story of the city in its postwar prime and explains its profound impact on modern America.

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ISBN:
9781594204326
9781483061344

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Grouping Information

Grouped Work IDa90f09ea-32d1-a8a8-917b-6c68d20ff07b
Grouping Titlethird coast when chicago built the american dream
Grouping Authorthomas dyja
Grouping Categorybook
Grouping LanguageEnglish (eng)
Last Grouping Update2024-06-24 02:16:38AM
Last Indexed2024-06-24 02:31:11AM

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display_description

A cultural history of Chicago at midcentury, with its incredible mix of architects, politicians, musicians, writers, entrepreneurs, and actors who helped shape modern America

Though today it can seem as if all American culture comes out of New York and Los Angeles, much of what defined the nation as it grew into a superpower was produced in Chicago. Before air travel overtook trains, nearly every coast-to-coast journey included a stop there, and this flow of people and commodities made it America's central clearinghouse, laboratory, and factory. Between the end of World War II and 1960, Mies van der Rohe's glass and steel architecture became the face of corporate America, Ray Kroc's McDonald's changed how people eat, Hugh Hefner unveiled Playboy, and the Chess brothers supercharged rock and roll with Chuck Berry. At the University of Chicago, the atom was split and Western civilization was packaged into the Great Books.

Yet even as Chicago led the way in creating mass-market culture, its artists pushed back in their own distinct voices. In literature, it was the outlaw novels of Nelson Algren (then carrying on a passionate affair with Simone de Beauvoir), the poems of Gwendolyn Brooks, and Studs Terkel's oral histories. In music, it was the gospel of Mahalia Jackson, the urban blues of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and the trippy avant-garde jazz of Sun Ra. In performance, it was the intimacy of Kukla, Fran and Ollie, the "Chicago School" of television, and the improvisational comedy troupe Second City whose famous alumni are now everywhere in American entertainment.

Despite this diversity, racial divisions informed virtually every aspect of life in Chicago. The chaos—both constructive and destructive—of this period was set into motion by the second migration north of African Americans during World War II. As whites either fled to the suburbs or violently opposed integration, urban planners tried to design away "blight" with projects that marred a generation of American cities. The election of Mayor Richard J. Daley in 1955 launched a frenzy of new building that came at a terrible cost—monolithic housing projects for the black community and a new kind of self-satisfied provincialism that sped up the end of Chicago's role as America's meeting place.

In luminous prose, Chicago native Thomas Dyja re-creates the story of the city in its postwar prime and explains its profound impact on modern America.

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Audio Books
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a90f09ea-32d1-a8a8-917b-6c68d20ff07b
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9781594204326
itype_catalog
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last_indexed
2024-06-24T09:31:11.866Z
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Non Fiction
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Non Fiction
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977.311 D996 2013
owning_library_catalog
Sacramento Public Library
owning_location_catalog
Carmichael
Central
Franklin
North Natomas
primary_isbn
9781594204326
publishDate
2013
publisher
Blackstone Publishing
The Penguin Press
recordtype
grouped_work
subject_facet
Chicago (Ill.) -- History -- 20th century
Chicago (Ill.) -- Intellectual life -- 20th century
Chicago (Ill.) -- Relations -- United States
Chicago (Ill.) -- Social conditions -- 20th century
United States -- Relations -- Illinois -- Chicago
title_display
The third coast : when Chicago built the American dream
title_full
The Third Coast When Chicago Built the American Dream
The third coast : when Chicago built the American dream / Thomas Dyja
title_short
The third coast
title_sub
when Chicago built the American dream
topic_facet
History
Intellectual life
Music
Nonfiction
Relations
Social conditions

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