Modernism, narratives of renewal and the historiography of urban regeneration
The comparatively brief period when clearance-based urban renewal was in full spate left both an enormous impact on the contemporary city on both sides of the Atlantic and an important legacy, both positive and negative, for thinking about urban regeneration. Adopting a historiographic perspective, this chapter argues that conventional interpretations of the progress and reappraisal of ‘urban renewal’ essentially derive from the two metanarratives that have guided historians’ accounts of the rise and fall of architectural modernism. In considering that contention, this chapter’s four main sections supply, in turn, contextual introduction, discussion of the metanarratives in question, and consideration of the experiences of urban renewal in the USA and Great Britain between around 1955-75 in the light of the wider historiography. The conclusion reflects further on the continuing significance of narrative in understanding the histories and challenges of urban regeneration.