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American Curves: Nature, Race and the Origins of the Modern Highway | A Lecture by Tom Campanella

  • Kansas City Design Center 1018 Baltimore Avenue Kansas City, MO, 64105 United States (map)

Join us Tuesday, October 11th at the KCDC for a lecture by Tom Campanella. A social hour will be held starting at 5:30pm, with the lecture following at 6pm; admittance is free and street parking is available. 

About the lecture:

We tend to associate the emergence of the American expressway with the Eisenhower era and the Interstate highway program.  But the origins of the modern motor road date back much further, to a series of parkways built in Westchester County, New York in the 1920s.  The first of these, the Bronx River Parkway, was begun not as a road but as an effort to restore a terribly polluted waterway, led by one of the most problematic figures in American environmental history, Madison Grant.  This talk will explore the roots of the modern American highway, examine the individuals who brought it into being and unpack the design ideals that helped shape an infrastructure that would change the world.

About Tom Campanella: 

Campanella is an historian of city planning and the urban built environment. He teaches at Cornell University and writes about the culture-space nexus in a variety of contexts, seeking to explain the manifold agents, actors, and forces that have shaped urban landscapes around the world. Though primarily an Americanist, he has also studied and written about the extraordinary growth of Chinese cities in the post-Mao era. 

Campanella has received Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships, and is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and the James Marston Fitch Foundation. His books include The Concrete Dragon: China's Urban Revolution and What It Means for the World (2008), and Republic of Shade: New England and the American Elm (2003), winner of the Spiro Kostof Award from the Society of Architectural Historians. He has held visiting appointments at Columbia, Harvard GSD, Nanjing University, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Campanella holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1999), a M.L.A. from Cornell (1991), and a B.S. from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (1986). 

*Please Note: AICP members can earn Certification Maintenance (CM) credits for this event. More information about AICP's CM program can be found at

Earlier Event: May 12
KCDC Open House