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Barrio America: How Latino Immigrants Saved the American City (Virtual Lecture, 11/12/2020)

By the early 1990s, American cities had been in a state of crisis for more than a generation, and the American city had been eulogized and buried many times over. But beginning in the mid-1990s, crime rates plummeted, economic vitality returned, and so many people moved back to cities that it created a severe shortage of affordable housing. In Barrio America, A. K. Sandoval-Strausz challenges the idea that the “creative class” was most responsible for reviving the city, arguing that Latino newcomers most dramatically transformed urban America. Sandoval-Strausz illuminates how Latin American immigrants imported three distinctive urban traditions—a preference for walking over driving, a penchant for public space, and small entrepreneurship—that have reshaped American cities. At a time when Latin American migrants are being demonized and scapegoated, we should remember their indispensable role in solving one of the greatest crises of the twentieth century.  

A. K. Sandoval-Strausz is director of Latina/o studies at Pennsylvania State University. He was born in New York City to immigrant parents, received his BA at Columbia, and went on to the University of Chicago for his PhD. He is a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar and a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians. His research has been featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Economist, National Public Radio, Slate, Bloomberg.com, Remezcla.com, CNBC, the Chicago Tribune, the Dallas Morning News, the Texas Observer, the Glasgow HeraldThe Age (Melbourne), and Phoenix TV (China). His first book, Hotel: An American History (Yale University Press, 2007), won the 2008 American Historical Association’s Pacific Coast Branch Book Prize. The article Barrio America is based on won awards from the Urban History Association, the Society for American City and Regional Planning History, and the Society of Architectural Historians.

Read entire article at Dumbarton Oaks Library