Written by one of the country's foremost urban historians, The Great Rent Wars tells the fascinating but little-known story of the battles between landlords and tenants in the nation's largest city from 1917 through 1929. These conflicts were triggered by the post-war housing shortage, which prompted landlords to raise rents, drove tenants to go on rent strikes, and spurred the state legislature, a conservative body dominated by upstate Republicans, to impose rent control in New York, a radical and unprecedented step that transformed landlord-tenant relations.
The Great Rent Wars traces the tumultuous history of rent control in New York from its inception to its expiration as it unfolded in New York, Albany, and Washington, D.C. At the heart of this story are such memorable figures as Al Smith, Fiorello H. La Guardia, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, as well as a host of tenants, landlords, judges, and politicians who have long been forgotten. Fogelson also explores the heated debates over landlord-tenant law, housing policy, and other issues that are as controversial today as they were a century ago.
Robert M. Fogelson was born and raised in New York City. He is professor of urban studies and history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of several books, most recently Downtown: Its Rise and Fall, 1880-1930, and Bourgeois Nightmares: Suburbia, 1870--1950, both published by Yale University Press.