The New American Ghetto
Camilo Jose Vergara. Rutgers University Press, $49.95 (255pp) ISBN 978-0-8135-2209-8
Vergara has chronicled life in poor and minority communities across the United States in the New York Times, Atlantic, the Nation, the Village Voice, and other publications. Following in the footsteps of 19th-century urban reformer Jacob Riis, the author, through the power of photography, reveals the destitution and vulgarities of urban decay. Chicago; Newark, New Jersey; New York; Detroit; Los Angeles; and several other cities are the backdrops for his 400 photographs. Vergara focuses on the physical environment, showing the transformation of particular sites over time. His tour of dilapidated neighborhoods and crumbling downtowns is visually startling. Vergara lays bare the direction of a new urbanness that strips the grandeur from its fabric and lays waste to the cityscape, pointing out that while we have wasted cities, many of the ruins are magnificent. An invaluable resource for urban studies and architecture collections.-Michael A. Lutes, Univ. of Notre Dame Lib., Ind.
Reviewed on: 10/30/1995