The Origins of the Urban Crisis

Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit - Updated Edition

by Thomas J. Sugrue, Thomas J. Sugrue

Once America's "arsenal of democracy," Detroit is now the symbol of the American urban crisis. In this reappraisal of America’s racial and economic inequalities, Thomas Sugrue asks why Detroit and other industrial cities have become the sites of persistent racialized poverty. He challenges the conventional wisdom that urban decline is the product of the social programs and racial fissures of the 1960s. Weaving together the history of workplaces, unions, civil rights groups, political organizations, and real estate agencies, Sugrue finds the roots of today’s urban poverty in a hidden history of racial violence, discrimination, and deindustrialization that reshaped the American urban landscape after World War II.

This Princeton Classics edition includes a new preface by Sugrue, discussing the lasting impact of the postwar transformation on urban America and the chronic issues leading to Detroit’s bankruptcy.


  • Princeton University Press; April 2014
  • ISBN: 9781400851218
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure ePub format
  • Title: The Origins of the Urban Crisis
  • Author: Thomas J. Sugrue; Thomas J. Sugrue (other)
  • Imprint: Princeton University Press

In The Press

"Winner of the 1998 Bancroft Prize in American History"


About The Author

Thomas J. Sugrue is the David Boies Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race (Princeton) and Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North.