Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief

The Great Chicago Fire, the Haymarket Bomb, and the Model Town of Pullman, Second Edition

by

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the Haymarket bombing of 1886, and the making and unmaking of the model town of Pullman—these remarkable events in what many considered the quintessential American city forced people across the country to confront the disorder that seemed inevitably to accompany urban growth and social change.

In Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief, Carl Smith explores the imaginative dimensions of these events as he traces the evolution of interconnected beliefs and actions that increasingly linked city, disorder, and social reality in the minds of Americans. Examining a remarkable range of writings and illustrations, as well as protests, public gatherings, trials, hearings, and urban reform and construction efforts, Smith argues that these three events—and the public awareness of them—not only informed one another, but collectively shaped how Americans understood, and continue to understand, Chicago and modern urban life.

This classic of urban cultural history is updated with a foreword by the author that expands our understanding of urban disorder to encompass such recent examples as Hurricane Katrina, the Oklahoma City Bombing, and 9/11.

 “Cultural history at its finest.  By utilizing questions and methodologies of urban studies, social history, and literary history, Smith creates a sophisticated account of changing visions of urban America.”—Robin F. Bachin, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
  • University of Chicago Press; September 2008
  • ISBN 9780226764252
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief
  • Author: Carl Smith
  • Imprint: University of Chicago Press

In The Press

“Cultural history at its finest. By utilizing questions and methodologies of urban studies, social history, and literary history, Smith creates a sophisticated account of changing visions of urban America.”
— Robin F. Bachin, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“This deeply researched, subtle and complex book seeks to comprehend the significance of three events of signal importance in the development of the American urban landscape.”

— Douglas Greenberg, Chicago Tribune

“What ultimately distinguishes this book is the coherence, grace, and clarity of Smith’s interpretations and the beauty of his writing.”

— John J. Pauly, Journal of American History

About The Author

Carl Smith is the Franklyn Bliss Snyder Professor of English and American Studies and professor of history at Northwestern University. He is the author of The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City, also published by the University of Chicago Press.