New Books Network

LaDale Winling

Building the Ivory Tower

Universities and Metropolitan Development in the Twentieth Century

University of Pennsylvania Press 2018

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in EducationNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public Policy August 10, 2020 Patrick Reilly

Universities have become state-like entities, possessing their own hospitals, police forces, and real estate companies. To become such behemoths, higher education institutions relied on...

Universities have become state-like entities, possessing their own hospitals, police forces, and real estate companies. To become such behemoths, higher education institutions relied on the state for resources and authority. Through government largesse and shrewd legal maneuvering, university administrators became powerful interests in urban planning during the twentieth century.

LaDale Winling’s Building the Ivory Tower: Universities and Metropolitan Development in the Twentieth Century (University of Pennsylvania Press) casts higher education as the beneficiary and catalyst of the century’s monumental state building projects–receiving millions in New Deal construction funds, even more from WWII-era military research, and directing the bulldozer’s path during urban renewal schemes around the country.

As state-funding for higher education decreased in the second half of the twentieth century and universities became more dependent on endowment investment and commercial research, their interests diverged even more sharply from the needs and desires of surrounding communities.

Winling discusses challenges he faced while researching the book, obstacles to organizing against harmful higher education practices today, and his ongoing digital project on redlining called Mapping Inequality.

LaDale C. Winling is Associate Professor of History at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.


Patrick Reilly​ is a PhD student in US History at Vanderbilt University. He studies police, community organizations, and urban development.