This article is one step toward an urban history of the United States that foregrounds “emergency” as a clearing device. American cities were strategically targeted during the sustained mid-twentieth century depression and war by a complex of groups – the Federal government, corporations, professional organizations, and universities – who coordinated survival largely at the expense of existing urban fabric. Together they invented “the house” as a new type of space – at once national, masculine, and high-tech – whose connection to urban densities was casual if not inherently confrontational. “The house” was only the beginning of an emergency response that would eventually declare cities “blighted,” and hence susceptible to large-scale winnowing.

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