Mitchell Schwarzer, "Hella Town: Oakland's History of Development and Disruption" (U California Press, 2022)


Oakland grew up on the shadow of the dynamo of the nineteenth century West, always the "other" city on San Francisco Bay. 

But as Mitchell Schwarzer, Professor Emeritus of art history and visual culture at California College of the Arts, argues in Hella Town: Oakland's History of Development and Disruption (University of California, 2021), the city also has much to tell us about the history of urban development, inequality, and the role of transit in shaping city life. In this way, Oakland is every city in the United States, a synecdoche for 20th century urban renewal, American car culture, and recent trends in labor such as remote work. From sports to cable cars, the story of 20th century Oakland is both tragedy and triumph, and its center, the story of people and a culture changing and creating change in the inherently dynamic urban American West.

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Stephen Hausmann

Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and is the Assistant Director of the American Society for Environmental History.

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