Fairbanks, Robert B. 1950-
Fairbanks, Robert B. 1950-
(Robert Bruce Fairbanks)
Born 1950. Education: Greenville College, Greenville, IL, B.A., 1972; Indiana State University, Terre Haute, M.A., 1974; University of Cincinnati, Ph.D., 1981.
Office—Department of History, University of Texas at Arlington, Box 19529, Arlington, TX 76019-0529; fax: 817-272-2852. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, historian, and educator. Greenville College, Greenville, IL, instructor in history and political science, 1975-76; University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, instructor in history, 1976-80; University of Texas at Arlington, visiting assistant professor, 1981-83, assistant professor, 1983-89, associate professor, 1989-98, professor of history and department chair, 1998—.
Making Better Citizens: Housing Reform and the Community Development Strategy in Cincinnati, 1890-1960, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1988.
(Editor, with Kathleen Underwood) Essays on Sunbelt Cities and Recent Urban America, introduction by Kenneth T. Jackson, published for the University of Texas at Arlington by Texas A&M University Press (College Station, TX), 1990.
For the City As a Whole: Planning, Politics, and the Public Interest in Dallas, Texas, 1900-1965, Ohio State University Press (Columbus, OH), 1998.
(Editor, with Patricia Mooney-Melvin) Making Sense of the City: Local Government, Civic Culture, and Community Life in Urban America, Ohio State University Press (Columbus, OH), 2001.
Planning Perspectives: An International Journal of History, Planning, and the Environment, editor for the Americans, 1999—; Planning Perspectives, American book review editor, 1989-99.
Contributor to books, including The Martial Metropolis: U.S. Cities in War and Peace, edited by Roger W. Lotchin, Praeger (New York, NY), 1984; Urban Cities and Towns: Historical Perspectives, edited by Joseph F. Diskel, Duquesne University Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1992; Technical Knowledge in America: Science, Technology, and Medicine since the Early 1800s, edited by Hamilton Cravens, Alan I. Marcus, and David M. Katzman, University of Alabama Press (Tuscaloosa, AL), 1996; American Housing Policy: From the Tenement to the Taylor Homes, edited by John F. Bauman, Roger Biles, and Kristin M. Szylvian, Penn State University Press (University Park, PA), 2000; Major Problems in Texas History, edited by Sam W. Haynes and Cary D. Wintz, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2001.
Contributor to journals and periodicals, including Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Journal of Urban History, Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Reviews in American History, Planning Perspectives, Western Historical Quarterly, and Ohio History.
Writer, historian, and educator Robert B. Fairbanks is a professor of history. In Making Better Citizens: Housing Reform and the Community Development Strategy in Cincinnati, 1890-1960, Fairbanks "presents an historical perspective on several issues of concern to the public administration community," noted Robert W. Kweit in the American Review of Public Administration. These subjects, including homelessness, housing policy, and creation of affordable housing, are no less relevant today than they were during the period under consideration in Fairbanks's book, Kweit observed. "In substance, the author is concerned with planning and housing policy," Kweit remarked. "He is also concerned with the impact of citizens' and interest groups in creating or altering public policy." He looks at common obstacles to the creation and implementation of sound public housing policy, including racial issues, the inability to accommodate the poorest citizens, the NIMBY (not in my back yard) principle in which established neighborhoods resist building of public housing in their area, and general disdain for community development projects. "Two crucial questions explored in this book are how to find adequate resources to build better communities and how those communities should be built," Kweit stated. Though the book focuses on Cincinnati, the issues can be generalized and applied nationally, creating a work that will "serve as food for thought for all who are concerned with the contemporary homeless problem," Kweit concluded.
With For the City As a Whole: Planning, Politics, and the Public Interest in Dallas, Texas, 1900-1965, Fairbanks turns his attention to Dallas and submits a work that explores changes in political influences and planning factors in twentieth-century American urban areas. Dallas's history, with its experiments with multiple forms of municipal government, its consistent attention to city planning, its successes with issues of integration, and its active civic organizations, makes it a prime candidate for such a case study, noted Paul A. Levengood in the Journal of Southern History. Fairbanks explores the public discourse that helped shape Dallas through the years. He "traces Dallasites' perceptions of what a city should be and argues that those ideas had tremendous impact upon the type of city that was actually created," Levengood stated. He looks at how planning and development decisions were often strongly influenced by the city's business leaders, how the pervasive and not always public-beneficial influence of business on the city developed through organizations such as the Citizens Charter Association and the Dallas Citizens Council, and where the decisions supported by the business elite succeeded and where they failed to accommodate the citizens' needs. By the 1960s, the business grip had been broken, and "public discourse in Dallas and across the nation emphasized the needs of citizens, represented by racial/ethnic, class, and neighbourhood-based groups, instead of concerning itself with the city or metropolitan region as a whole," commented Patricia Evridge Hill in the Urban History Review. "Fairbanks's book is essential reading for any student of southern or U.S. urban history," Levengood remarked. "It is lucidly written and well researched."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Review of Public Administration, December, 1989, Robert W. Kweit, review of Making Better Citizens: Housing Reform and the Community Development Strategy in Cincinnati, 1890-1960, p. 325.
Journal of Southern History, August, 2000, Paul A. Levengood, review of For the City As a Whole: Planning, Politics, and the Public Interest in Dallas, Texas, 1900-1965, p. 664.
Urban History Review, October, 2000, Patricia Evridge Hill, review of For the City As a Whole, p. 74; fall, 2005, Guy Chiasson, review of Making Sense of the City: Local Government, Civic Culture, and Community Life in Urban America, p. 123.