While Harlem, New York found itself deep in the midst of "urban crisis" in the mid- 1960s, by the late 1990s commentators invoked Harlem's rich past to describe its apparent resurgence, or "Second Renaissance." Harlem's transformation came about in an era of profound global, national, and local political economic shifts, but residents themselves played a crucial role in negotiating and effecting the redevelopment of their neighborhood at the scale of its buildings and streets. My dissertation, "A City Within a City: Community Development and the Struggle Over Harlem, 1961-2001," examines the grassroots response of residents in Harlem to questions of development in the last four decades of the twentieth century. While most historians have considered citizen activism as the conclusion of the major postwar American project of urban redevelopment, or the large-scale, government-led reconstruction of cities, this study contends that such community-based activism also marked the beginning of a new era in urban history. By using one exemplary place to tell this story, I explore the world's best-known predominantly African-American neighborhood as both an exceptional and representative case among American cities in the aftermath of federally funded urban renewal.
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