Oil City: Landscapes of resistance in urban development
Hanford, Thomas W.
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Syracuse’s “Oil City” has been undergoing remarkable changes since the late 1980’s. Successive development plans spanning from large-scale spectacles, to smaller neighborhood-focused ‘sidewalk community’ visions have been proposed and advanced throughout the corridor. This dissertation seeks to understand the notable landscapes of resistance that have been used by current residents and land owners, to assert and frame property rights and communal claims to urban space. Looking at the city from three primary perspectives – one of history, community claims, and formal land claims - the work advances an understanding of legal geographies and seeks to understand common discourses and resistance techniques employed by members of the community. Discourse analysis is employed to consider the prominent narratives and dialogues employed to convey significant and identifiable ‘stories’ of legal rights, communal rights, and land claims. These discourses are amply found in media, public meetings and formal legal documents and claims, and build upon decades of consideration in the city. Syracuse’s circumstance is a unique, understudied condition. Small cities in the United States are undergoing notable changes in the face of economic challenges present since the onset of the post-industrial condition. As a result, the work provides a unique and distinctive assessment of a critical location within the American legal scene.