For centuries scholars have scrutinized the cities of the Old World, poking into ruins and libraries for unwritten and written clues to origins and demise. The American cities that have played major roles in the history of the United States have also had their share of study. But only recently have historians applied systematic analysis to what is now called the Sunbelt, where half the nation's ten largest cities are located--cities that have grown astronomically since World War II. This volume brings together the important findings of leading urban historians. Addressing a variety of topics such as the reasons behind the Sunbelt's boom, their essays place the sunbelt phenomenon within the larger context of urban development nationwide. Kenneth T. Jackson begins the introduction by pointing out the problem of defining the Sunbelt and the reasons for urban growth in the sunbelt areas during the post-World War II era. Essays by Robert Fisher, Roger W. Lotchin, and Robert B. Fairbanks focus on specific cities and leadership issues: on the attitudes that shaped Houston, on the military's role in the urban development of San Diego, and on the politics of governing Dallas from 1930 to 1960. An essay by Carl Abbott looks at the distinctive physical characteristics of cities in the Southwest. Raymond A. Mohl's essay on the transformation of urban America since 1945 and Zane L. Miller's essay on Walter Prescott Webb and cultural regionalism provide broader contexts in which to view and understand urban sunbelt development.
The essays of this volume reflect the individual authors' different methodologies and approaches. Taken together, they highlight the belief that national development and twentieth-century urban trends were as important in shaping sunbelt cities as was the regional culture.