The culture wars continue to rage across the United States. Clashes over hate speech regulations, affirmative action, abortion, immigration, art, history, and lifestyle questions suggest that America is more polarized than ever before. This study looks at the rapid changes occurring in cities and suburbs in order to understand these cultural conflicts which, according to Rodriguez, have arisen in part because Americans continue to view themselves as city people or suburbanites in a time when the two areas are converging. As suburbs draw more businesses and residents, they produce new forms of art and cultural events which longtime residents resist as undermining the essentially residential quality of suburbs. Similarly, in cities, new parking structures, highways, and downtown malls produce suburban landscapes that urbanites reject, seeing those changes as evidence of the intrusion of suburban culture. Four community conflicts in the Bay Area from the 1960s to the 1990s illustrate these changes. In the San Francisco Bay Area, freeways and rapid transit have brought city and suburb closer together. Local residents have resisted these changes that threaten their communities' original identities. In San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Concord, residents have clashed over the construction of freeways and rapid transit, urban and suburban redevelopment, affirmative action, and modern art. In each locality, rapid changes produced conflict over local identities, as white, black, and Chica residents have attempted to maintain a clear distinction between urban and suburban culture in the face of forces that are driving city and suburb closer together.
JOSEPH A. RODRIGUEZ is Associate Professor of History and Urban Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee./e He has published articles on the Chicano movement, urban history, and multiculturalism.