Carl Abbott

Carl Abbott

Carl Abbott is Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University and author of Imagining Urban Futures: Cities in Science Fiction and What We Might Learn from Them (Wesleyan University Press, 2016)

photo: 1900 Chinatown fire in Honolulu

The ‘Chinese Flu’ Is Part of a Long History of Racializing Disease

During a plague outbreak in 1899, officials in Honolulu quarantined and burned the city’s Chinatown. Some Covid-19 talk today echoes their rhetoric.

The Forgotten Urbanists of 19th-Century Boomtowns

Before economic-development agencies existed in America, some journalists amassed reams of data and published thousands of pages to promote their home cities.

A still from a 1940s film shows two children sitting in front of ranch-style houses.

When Public Housing Was Suburban-Style and White

In 1945, Portland made a short film celebrating the low-rise, landscaped Columbia Villa, a public-housing project for white Portlanders.

When Portland’s Nuclear Defense Drill Was Televised

Credits for the 1957 CBS airing of The Day Called ‘X’  list the cast as “the people of the city of Portland, Oregon.” City officials, including the mayor, got lead roles.

Denver, Center of the Cosmopolitan Railway

William Gilpin’s big idea in the late 1800s would have made Denver the crossroads of the world—the place where “the zodiac of nations closes its circle.”

A distressed cartoon house on a overcrowded city street

Revisiting an Anti-Urban Children's Story Everyone Loves

If Robert McCloskey’s Make Way For Ducklings anticipated Jane Jacobs, Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House lined up firmly with Lewis Mumford.

'Blade Runner' and the Dystopic Los Angeles

The film’s impact comes from its skillful blend of two other distinct images of Los Angeles—as noir jungle and harbinger of the future.

America's First Urbanist

George Tucker was a 19th century public intellectual who appreciated cities as engines of progress and offered some of the clearest early statements on their behalf. His ideas today still sound impressively modern.

The Library of Congress under construction and the U.S. Capitol

No, Washington Is Not Built on a Swamp

It’s time to retire an old metaphor that has no basis in D.C.’s history.

Behind the Urbanism in Science Fiction

Exploring the ideas of 20th century city visionaries and how they shaped the genre.