Brown’s essay explores how black modernists W. E. B. DuBois and Wallace Thurman used the skyscraper’s abstracted view of the masses to envision raced models of democracy and difference. As urban identity in the 1920s became increasingly associated with ethnic identity, writers used the view from the skyscraper’s apex to imagine both utopian and dystopian designs of modern sociality. While lynching and minstrelsy have previously been the primary vehicles for thinking about race, crowds, and visions during the early twentieth century, Thur man and DuBois insist on the significance of skyscraper architecture in creating new racial imaginaries for modern modes of vision.
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