City Limits: Infrastructure, Inequality, and the Future of America's Highways (Hardcover)

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City Limits: Infrastructure, Inequality, and the Future of America's Highways By Megan Kimble Cover Image

City Limits: Infrastructure, Inequality, and the Future of America's Highways (Hardcover)


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An eye-opening investigation into how our ever-expanding urban highways accelerated inequality and fractured communities—and a call for a more just, sustainable path forward

“Megan Kimble manages to turn a book about transportation and infrastructure into a fascinating human drama.”—Michael Harriot, New York Times bestselling author of Black AF History

Every major American city has a highway tearing through its center. Seventy years ago, planners sold these highways as progress, essential to our future prosperity. The automobile promised freedom, and highways were going to take us there. Instead, they divided cities, displaced people from their homes, chained us to our cars, and locked us into a high-emissions future. And the more highways we built, the worse traffic got. Nowhere is this more visible than in Texas. In Houston, Dallas, and Austin, residents and activists are fighting against massive, multi-billion-dollar highway expansions that will claim thousands of homes and businesses, entrenching segregation and sprawl.

In City Limits, journalist Megan Kimble weaves together the origins of urban highways with the stories of ordinary people impacted by our failed transportation system. In Austin, hundreds of families will lose child care if a preschool is demolished to expand Interstate 35. In Houston, a young Black woman will lose her brand-new home to a new lane on Interstate 10—just blocks away from where a seventy-four-year-old nurse lost her home in the 1960s when that same highway was built. And in Dallas, an urban planner has improbably found himself at the center of a national conversation about highway removal. What if, instead of building our aging roads wider and higher, we removed those highways altogether? It’s been done before, first in San Francisco and, more recently, in Rochester, where Kimble traces how highway removal has brought new life to a divided city.

With propulsive storytelling and ground-level reporting, City Limits exposes the enormous social and environmental costs wrought by our allegiance to a life of increasing speed and dispersion, and brings to light the people who are fighting for a more sustainable, connected future.
Megan Kimble is an investigative journalist and the author of Unprocessed. A former executive editor at The Texas Observer, Kimble has written about housing, transportation, and urban development for The New York Times, Texas Monthly, The Guardian, and Bloomberg CityLab. She lives in Austin, Texas.
Product Details ISBN: 9780593443781
ISBN-10: 0593443780
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2024
Pages: 368
Language: English
“Texas highways have destroyed and dominated our built environment. Megan Kimble’s book City Limits offers a new vision. . . . City Limits reveals the human consequences of our built environment.”—The Texas Observer

“Kimble has penned a big-picture book about a ponderous topic with fascinating implications: what highways mean for American life.”Bloomberg

“At once a compelling inventory of what people have sacrificed for vehicular speed, an instructive primer on who makes what go where in urban space, and a call to rethink our reliance on highways in light of their environmental impact.”Los Angeles Review of Books

“Kimble channels Caro by locating the human drama behind freeways and failures of urban planning.”The Millions

“Expertly documented . . . Kimble’s book doesn’t offer any false promises of easy victories, but it compels us to search for a better way.”San Antonio Express-News

“Gripping. . . . a propulsive, deeply human, and ultimately hopeful story of the people who are leading that fight, even as they stand to lose their homes, businesses, and the very fabric of their neighborhoods.”Streetsblog USA

“Immersive . . . Kimble delivers an invigorating window onto American grassroots activism.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“If your commute is a nightmare, or if you have had enough of the asphalt jungle that many America cities have become, read this book. City Limits is not just a compelling read—it’s a road map to a better world.”—Jeff Goodell, New York Times bestselling author of The Heat Will Kill You First

“As dams are to living salmon streams, highways are to living cities. Nothing could be more heartening than the growing movement—powerfully chronicled in City Limits—to move past this sad stage in our country’s development, and on to something new and old that works for people, not cars.”—Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

“Megan Kimble turns the history of highway construction into something much larger: a treatise on power and possibility. City Limits proves that the world can change faster than we think.”—P. E. Moskowitz, author of How to Kill a City

“City Limits is a triumph. Megan Kimble echoes Robert Caro exposing how powerful groups like TxDOT are able to take away people’s homes, destroy their neighborhoods, and run roughshod over communities with virtually no accountability.”—Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class

“Megan Kimble’s paradigm-shifting City Limits details how American cities came to completely revolve around cars—to the detriment of the people who live in those cities and suburbs, as well as to the communities that highways have displaced.”—Roxanna Asgarian, author of We Were Once a Family

City Limits, a definitive, neighborly guide to how our cities got so sliced up by highways, the damage they’ve done to communities and the climate, and the many great ideas for how we could replace them, if only we can organize ourselves.”—Maurice Chammah, author of Let the Lord Sort Them