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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

Saving America's Cities

Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age

Lizabeth Cohen

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


1. The Making of an Urban Renewer

In September 1953, thirty-two-year-old Ed Logue returned to New Haven, Connecticut, with his wife, Margaret, to await the birth of their first child after six years away. They were resettling into a city that had launched Logue into adulthood. Here he had widened his horizons as a scholarship student at Yale College, had worked his first full-time job as a labor organizer, and had trained for a profession at Yale Law School. Here, too, he had met and married Margaret, the daughter of an influential couple in New Haven academic circles, the much-admired dean of Yale College William Clyde DeVane and his wife, Mabel Phillips DeVane. Casting about for his next career move after working in India for eighteen months as Ambassador Chester Bowles’s special assistant, Logue was considering hanging out his shingle as a New Haven lawyer.

But then opportunity intervened. Logue had arrived just in time to help with the mayoral campaign of the Democratic reform candidate Richard Lee, who was mounting his third attempt to be elected mayor of New Haven. The determined, thirty-seven-year-old hometown boy, “Dick” Lee, currently the director of the Yale News Bureau, built his run around an ambitious promise to “renew” what was undeniably a deteriorating New Haven. Factories were closing, downtown retail was stagnating, and middle-class residents were decamping for the city’s flourishing suburbs. These departures, furthermore, were fueling growing discontent among those remaining behind, who resented how the city’s property tax rates kept climbing simply to sustain existing services. Logue, identifying himself as a “longtime admirer of Dick Lee,” became a key player in Independents for Lee, an effort to position Lee as an alternative to business as usual as practiced by New Haven’s Democratic Party machine. The third time was the charm, and Lee claimed victory on the night of November 3, 1953, with 52.3 percent of the vote.1

Within weeks of his election, Lee invited Logue to be his executive secretary, an ostensibly part-time post that Lee created to tap the unique combination of smarts, energy, and vision that he saw in Logue. Logue accepted, but it quickly became apparent that the job was much bigger, more like an unofficial deputy mayor. They lost little time collaborating on an ambitious plan to remake New Haven as “a slumless city—the first in the nation,” as they liked to say.2 In February 1955, Lee officially appointed Logue as the development administrator of the New Haven Redevelopment Agency. Logue’s brilliance at garnering newly available federal urban renewal funds, combined with Lee’s intimate knowledge of New Haven, made them an irrepressible and nationally admired team who could boast that they were attracting more federal dollars per capita to New Haven than any other American city was getting. The masterful politician and his bureaucratically savvy partner together piloted schemes in New Haven that other cities would watch and copy.

Medium-size New Haven, a struggling old industrial city in an increasingly suburban postindustrial age, became the model city of urban renewal, a laboratory for salvaging urban America. The problems that Dick Lee and Ed Logue were addressing were faced by many American cities that had flourished with the rise of America’s industrial might in the nineteenth century. Now, in the second half of the twentieth, these cities were atrophying as their manufacturing bases disappeared. Strategies to renew American cities would evolve continually for at least two more decades, in response to new ideas, mistakes made and learned from, the ebb and flow of funding, and political pressures exerted from many quarters, most notably policy makers in Washington and critics at the grass roots. The successes and failures of Dick Lee and Ed Logue’s efforts in New Haven reveal how the urban renewal project fared in its first phase during the 1950s.


The charges brought against urban renewal by the mid-1960s as pro-business, undemocratic, and racially biased would have been anathema to the Ed Logue who joined forces with Dick Lee. He was by personal history and self-perception quite the opposite: a political progressive on many fronts who viewed urban renewal as the next worthy liberal cause demanding immediate government action.

Logue was born and raised in Philadelphia in a devoutly Irish Catholic and staunchly Democratic home, which he would recall later as being “without any racial prejudice.”3 Until his father died in 1934 when Ed was thirteen and his four siblings—John, Gordon, Frank, and Ellen—were eleven, ten, nine, and seven, respectively, the family lived comfortably in a rowhouse on Mount Vernon Street just north of Center City, Philadelphia. Ed’s father earned a decent salary as a city tax assessor, good enough to send five children to the private Notre Dame Academy in Rittenhouse Square and to nearby Cape May for the summer. Logue’s happiest early memories were linked to the excitement of downtown Philadelphia: “From childhood, I was always interested in cities.”4 He particularly prized the “walking trips” he made with his father around town.5 He also enjoyed hearing his aunt, a Catholic nun named Sister Maria Kostka, discuss with his father an ambitious architectural design for Chestnut Hill College, a Catholic women’s college she founded in 1924 and ran for her order, the Sisters of Saint Joseph.6 But then Ed’s father suddenly died during a routine hernia operation, leaving the family precariously dependent on a meager monthly insurance check of $134.84 and the charity of an uncle who bought them a semidetached house in the outlying Overbrook neighborhood. Renting out the third floor barely helped make ends meet.7

Yale College, where Logue matriculated in September 1938 as a bursary or scholarship student after rejecting the free ride at Catholic University arranged by his aunt the nun, shaped many aspects of Logue’s adult life. Logue was a political science major who studied with Harvey Claflin Mansfield, Albert Galloway Keller, and the labor economist E. Wight Bakke, author of a remarkable eight-year study of unemployed workers and their families in Depression-era New Haven, published in 1940, that made a deep impression on Logue.

Yale influenced young Logue outside the classroom as well. The Yale College that Ed Logue entered in fall 1938 newly aspired to having a more diverse undergraduate community of academic as well as athletic and societal leaders, having lagged behind Columbia, Harvard, and the University of Chicago in this regard. Carrying the name of a traditional Yale family had been the best ticket to Yale admissions, so much so that the application requested a mother’s maiden name to catch candidates with maternal rather than paternal connections.

As a striving, not-well-off, Irish Catholic graduate of a public high school in Philadelphia, Logue encountered a Yale that was beginning to break down social boundaries among its students but was still a bastion of elite Protestant prep schoolers. Only 213 students out of his freshman class of 855—about a quarter—had graduated from public high schools. Almost a third of the total matriculants were “Yale sons.” At Yale, Catholic students historically had experienced less prejudice than Jewish students had. Interestingly, however, because Catholics were less oriented toward higher education in the first half of the century and Catholic colleges eagerly recruited those who were, the Catholic presence on campus lagged behind the proportion of Catholics in the general population. In contrast, Yale’s Jewish students far exceeded their numbers nationally. Moreover, many of the Jews and Catholics who attended Yale gained entrance because they grew up in New Haven and qualified for the scholarships Yale reserved for local boys to improve town-gown relations.

Yale’s first residential colleges had opened in 1933, only five years before Logue arrived, thanks to a $16 million gift from the alumnus Edward Harkness aimed at improving the undergraduate residential experience. By 1940, Logue’s junior year, the popular colleges had succeeded in decreasing the proportion of undergraduates living off campus to 13 percent from 38 percent in 1920, and the fraternities and exclusive senior societies that had fragmented the student body were declining in influence as well. But although the new colleges aimed to bring together students of different backgrounds, exclusionary policies still guided roommate matching. Rooming committees were told never to mix Jews and Catholics with Protestants, prep school with public school students, or the well-off with scholarship recipients. Not surprisingly, then, Logue’s Yale friends were overwhelmingly Catholic and Jewish. Brother Frank Logue (Class of ’48) well understood the Yale that he and his brothers entered: “A great WASPy university admitted those four sons of a widowed Irish kindergarten teacher” is the way he later put it, wryly noting that most of their Berkeley College roommates were Jews, a sign of how fully Yale segregated its students.8

Attending Yale at this moment in time made Ed Logue, his brothers, and his friends grateful for the liberalization of the university that was enabling their attendance but resentful of the still-powerful vestiges of privilege. Logue’s good college and law school friend John Arcudi, an Italian Catholic whose parents owned a small grocery in nearby Westport, explained how, as a bursary student, he felt apart from what he called the “white shoe boys” from prep school. “We … the people who had been the waiters in Commons … were a separate part of the Yale society.” The lower social status of students like Arcudi and Logue played out politically as well. Both recounted their alienation from a student body that in the presidential election of 1940 overwhelmingly supported the Republican candidate Wendell Willkie against their hero, the Democratic incumbent Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They responded by inviting the Republican New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia, an enthusiastic FDR supporter, to a rally to reassure New Haven’s many Italians that the president bore no prejudice, despite his criticism of Mussolini. When Roosevelt won the election, Logue and a Jewish friend on scholarship, Allen “Bud” Scher, “celebrated quietly” and walked across a Yale campus that “was like a graveyard. There was no celebration for FDR by the Yalies,” according to Scher, who derisively called them “the bloods.”9

Watching so many of his peers shun Roosevelt made Logue only more combative. He joined the Labor Party in the Yale Political Union debating society (a more left alternative to the Liberal and Conservative Parties and the nexus for pro-union students) and devoted himself to supporting New Haven’s working class, whether by leafleting at the nearby Winchester Repeating Arms Company plant or rallying behind Yale’s own dining hall workers—many of whom he knew well from working in Freshman Commons—when they went on strike in 1941.10

A decade later, in 1951, when Logue needed security clearance to work in the American embassy in New Delhi, the FBI talked to a supervisor in the Yale dining services who remembered him as “not dependable” and “‘sneaky’ in all of his actions, including always eating the leftovers from the plates in the dining room.” The FBI agent investigating continued, “She stated that he was in her opinion the poorest worker that was ever employed in the Yale Dining Room. She further advised that applicant was constantly spreading ‘malicious rumors’ about the management of Yale University, stating that ‘they were dictators, slave drivers, and oppressing the employees of Yale.’” It was not clear how much of her condemnation was due to Logue’s pro-labor politics, his incompetence as a worker, or his hearty appetite—most likely, a combination of all three. In any event, Logue was eventually fired for “inadequate effort.”11

Logue didn’t just connect to Yale’s workers on campus. His social position and political sympathies made him more at home in their urban world outside the campus gates than most other Yale students were. When as a senior he showed a date around New Haven and “she was totally uninterested,” he took that as grounds enough to end the relationship.12

Logue’s bond with Yale’s low-level employees, so appalling to his dining-services supervisor from freshman year, only grew over his college career and drew him into helping with a full-scale union-organizing drive mounted during his senior year, 1941–42. The 1930s and early 1940s were a dynamic period for labor in New Haven, as elsewhere in the United States. Garment workers, clock workers, metalworkers, and other local laborers succeeded in organizing unions for the first time. Even the drivers for the Chieppo Bus Company, hired by the university to drive students to the Yale Bowl and other sports fields, struck for union recognition. With so much local activity, Yale’s janitors, maids, maintenance, and power and boiler room workers joined in, motivated by serious complaints of their own: miserably low wages, long hours (often seven days a week), and poor working conditions—no overtime, sick leave, holiday pay, job protection, or vacations other than a three-month summer layoff. With the arrival of a Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) organizer, long-simmering discontent boiled over and led to the chartering of a CIO local in May 1941, followed by an overwhelming electoral victory for the union in October. When negotiations with the university broke down the next month, four hundred workers went on strike—the first in Yale’s history. Finally, in February 1942, came a favorable contract between Yale University and Local 142 of the United Construction Workers, affiliated with the United Mine Workers–CIO. Logue threw himself into this yearlong roller-coaster ride of a unionization struggle, which he later recalled as “a time with a lot of idealism, a lot of ‘we’re going to do what we can to make the world better.’” He was rewarded upon graduation with a full-time job as general organizer for the local.13

As an activist on the New Haven labor scene, Logue had a clear political position: pro-labor and anti-communist. Although he wasn’t religious himself, Logue’s Catholic upbringing propelled his anti-communism, just as it helped inspire his commitment to social justice.14 But mostly, he was a New Dealer to the core, convinced that the best way to improve ordinary people’s lives was to empower the federal government to be a force for good.15 In New Haven, that approach meant much more than organizing workers. As Logue would have been aware, the New Haven Central Labor Council had advocated for the City-Wide Conference for Slum Clearance and Better Housing in 1937. After publicizing the poor conditions in which many New Haveners lived, the city’s labor leaders helped secure funding for Elm Haven Housing, New Haven’s first federally funded low-rise public housing project. Two more much-needed public housing projects would soon follow. The New Haven labor movement taught the budding-activist Logue that enlightened government could play a key role in delivering decent, affordable homes, along with good jobs, to its citizens.16

Knowing it was only a matter of time until he was drafted into World War II, Logue decided in November 1942 to enlist in the navy, hoping to become a combat flyer. To his surprise and dismay, he was turned down. Throughout his life he remained convinced that his labor activism had made him unacceptable to the navy. He even wrote to President Roosevelt in outrage: “The Navy seems to have a policy on organizers. Keep ’em out.” (The FBI found no evidence for Logue’s suspicion in its security investigation of him in 1952. Nor did I in my Freedom of Information Act inquiry of 2009. But the recruitment officer at the Philadelphia Naval Aviation Selection Board, who recorded “lack of interest in Naval Aviation” as the official grounds for rejection, might privately have deemed Logue too politically unreliable.)17 Logue then enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces, hoping to qualify as a pilot, and received orders to report for flight training in early 1943. His farewell message to Local 142’s membership conveyed how much he connected the union struggle at Yale with the democracy he would soon be defending abroad. “Unions are the greatest single force today in preserving and strengthening our democracy on the home front. Do your part in our fight for democracy by being an active, loyal union member and by practicing that tolerance of your fellow man regardless of race, creed or color which is the core of democracy and the American labor movement.”18

Before too long, Logue washed out of pilot training (not uncommon in this highly selective military division) and had to content himself with being a bombardier. He served in the Fifteenth Air Force in Italy from 1944 to 1945, flying seventeen missions, winning his share of medals and stars, and mustering out as a second lieutenant in summer 1945. On the ground, he was impressed with Florence, Siena, and Rome, but Logue most often mentioned how all that time in the “great glass bubble” gave him a valuable bird’s-eye view of European cities, teaching him to “read” the physical layout to “get a feeling for how a city is put together.” It was “the best possible city planning training I [could have] had.”19

Although Logue was not likely aware of it, the famed French modernist architect Le Corbusier (the professional name of Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris), whose dramatic schemes to remake cities would powerfully influence postwar urban renewers like Logue, also credited aerial views with inspiring him: “When one has taken a long flight over the city like a bird gliding, ideas attack you … everything became clear to me … I expressed the ideas of modern planning.” Le Corbusier’s signature linear radiant city, with its rational division of urban functions, towering skyscrapers, and lyrical flow of highways, apparently came to him while studying the problems of nineteenth-century cities from airplanes during the 1930s and 1940s. Likewise, Le Corbusier’s own bold interventions on the landscape were easily discernible from the air.20 This aerial perspective encouraged Logue, Le Corbusier, and other modernists, including the New Haven planner Maurice E. H. Rotival, to reimagine the city as made up of distinct, legible parts—residential neighborhoods, downtown cores, industrial and market districts, and connective roadways—that could be grasped from above and modernized in discrete sections as needed. Peering down on Europe, Logue learned “how a city’s functions separated themselves and how they worked together.”21 From these heights, a city was like a complex machine whose interconnected parts required frequent recalibration for the full urban mechanism to work properly.

Once the European war ended and Logue returned to the United States, he took up his life again in New Haven, using the GI Bill to matriculate at Yale Law School. He also went back to working part-time as an organizer for Local 142, which continued to unionize Yale workers, concentrating now on the university’s dining halls, library, and hospital.22 At Yale Law, Logue was drawn to an iconoclastic group of law professors known as legal realists. They condemned the Harvard-based, case-method style of legal education, with its orderly rules to explain judicial decisions. Instead, they argued that legal judgments were more idiosyncratic, more politically motivated, and more shaped by pressures from the larger society. Logue particularly admired a member of this group, Fred Rodell, whom he had met through the union struggle on campus before the war. Rodell became a mentor, father figure, and close friend.23

Rodell was an irreverent political progressive, affectionately known as “Fred the Red,” who had scorned the mainstream legal academic culture when at the age of twenty-nine he wrote an article published in the Virginia Law Review titled “Goodbye to Law Reviews,” denouncing the whole law review system as flawed and hypocritical. Three years later, in 1939, Rodell published a tract titled Woe unto You, Lawyers, which took aim at the law profession itself as no more than hired guns of the privileged, wielding legal jargon as ammunition. For decades Rodell annoyed the Yale University Corporation and administration by being a persistent gadfly, most infuriatingly when he canceled his classes during the Local 142 strike of November 1941.24

With the encouragement of Rodell and other leftists on the law school faculty, Logue and his friends worked energetically to challenge the university not only on its labor practices, but also for its racial and religious discrimination—through quotas in admissions and prejudices in faculty hiring—and for its weak defense of academic freedom in the increasingly anti-communist atmosphere of the 1940s. As its president Charles Seymour famously said, “There will be no witch-hunts at Yale because there will be no witches. We do not intend to hire Communists.” Logue may have personally disliked communism, but he adamantly rejected red-baiting of any kind.25

On and off campus during these immediate postwar years, Logue developed a political identity as a pro-labor liberal and a committed racial integrationist. He founded a Yale chapter of the national American Veterans Committee (AVC), a progressive movement of veterans committed to challenging the conservative American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. When the AVC went through a bruising battle between its liberal and communist wings, Logue characteristically chose the anti-communist side.26 But opting for the more moderate path in the AVC did not stop Logue from bravely championing the cause of racial integration, raising havoc at the slightest hint of discrimination or injustice. In fact, Logue’s very first publication, in 1946, was a book review of Robert C. Weaver’s Negro Labor in the left-wing magazine The Progressive, in which Logue called for government pressure to deliver “social justice” to African American workers, “now, not soon.” That same year he shot off an angry letter of complaint to the editor of the left-leaning Catholic Commonweal magazine, protesting that the article “Veterans on Campus” did not adequately treat the special problems of black veterans.27

In Logue’s academic program at Yale Law School, which was condensed into two years to advance returning vets more quickly, he focused on labor and legislative law but also gained exposure to urban policy from two teachers, Myres McDougal and Maurice Rotival. McDougal taught a required first-year course on real property, which he introduced by saying, “If you are interested in deed transfers, if you are interested in mortgages, that’s not my course. You will learn that stuff in the first or second year at work out of law school. My interest is to convey how the law can achieve appropriate public policies in the utilization of real property.”28 McDougal, who also teamed up with the political scientist Harold Lasswell to train Yale Law School students to advocate for more democratic social policies, would himself become the first chair of the New Haven Redevelopment Authority when it was established in 1950 to enable the city to compete for funding newly available under the Federal Housing Act of 1949.29 From Rotival, a charismatic and prominent modernist planner who was on the faculty at the Yale School of Art and Architecture and had developed a renewal plan for New Haven in the early 1940s, Logue learned the latest thinking about urban redevelopment.

By the time Ed Logue left New Haven in late fall 1947, he had developed a political disposition best described as being a rebel in the belly of the establishment beast. At this stage, and arguably for the rest of his life, Logue thrived as an insider comfortable in the bastions of power who then fought hard to improve what he judged were damaging deficiencies. His combative stance did not always sit well with others. An unidentified Yale University official with whom Logue interacted over labor issues—possibly R. Carter Nyman, appointed as Yale’s first personnel director for service and clerical staff in 1939—admitted when interviewed by the FBI in 1951 that he had no grounds to doubt Logue’s loyalty to the United States but, back in 1941–42, he had been incensed that as a scholarship student Logue “was doing everything in his power to upset the administration of the school that was giving him the opportunity for an education.” When budget cuts had required the laying off of maids at Yale, Logue apparently thought, to this individual’s outrage, that “they should be continued on the pay roll because he, LOGUE, felt it was the University’s moral obligation to look after them.”30

Logue brought this reformist zeal to his personal life as well. He met his future wife, Margaret DeVane, daughter of the powerful Dean DeVane, soon after he returned to New Haven for law school. She was only a sophomore at Smith College at the time, though emotionally mature for her age and as politically liberal and idealistic as her future husband. They would marry in June 1947, when she still had a year of college to go, which did not please her parents. They were no happier when their future son-in-law called a strike of workers at Grace–New Haven Hospital (later renamed Yale–New Haven Hospital) in April 1947, while his future mother-in-law lay on an operating table inside undergoing a minor procedure.31 Marriage to Margaret, the dean’s daughter, may have ensconced Logue deeper in the Yale establishment, but it did little to suppress his appetite for rebellion. A favorite family story captured the armed truce on matters political between Ed Logue and Dean DeVane. One day when Logue was making calls to schedule a union meeting from the DeVanes’ living room, the dean walked in and said, “You know, Ed, I like you and I can respect what you’re doing, but please don’t do it from my telephone.”32

Logue would practice “tough love” throughout his life, holding the people and institutions he most valued to what he considered to be higher standards. This commitment to productive engagement, however contentious, made him increasingly impatient with the cynical aloofness often displayed by his mentor Fred Rodell and other political skeptics given more to critique than to action. Appropriately, one of Logue’s favorite sayings was “Keep the left hand high,” referring to the boxer’s training to be ever vigilant in fending off counterpunches. His longtime colleague Allan Talbot explained what Logue meant: “public service as a form of combat” was to be welcomed, not avoided.33

After graduating Yale Law in October 1947, Ed Logue pursued his ambition to practice labor law by moving back to his hometown of Philadelphia to apprentice with a well-respected practitioner, Morris H. Goldstein, who represented the International Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America–CIO and other CIO and AFL union locals in Philadelphia.34 It would turn out that returning to Philadelphia offered Logue much more than training in labor law. Most importantly, it helped direct his attention to city building as a cornerstone of progressive politics.

Logue had already visited and drawn inspiration from the influential “Better Philadelphia Exhibition,” which in 1947 the planners Edmund Bacon and Robert Mitchell and the architects Oskar Stonorov and Louis Kahn had installed downtown in the top two floors of Gimbels department store to engage the public in imagining what Philadelphia might look like by its three hundredth anniversary in 1982—“if you support city planning.”35 Logue had been one of almost four hundred thousand people to attend this exhibition, which aimed to be both educational and entertaining. Here he observed the “shadow of blight” spreading ominously over the heart of Philadelphia as a pendulum swung back and forth. He watched sections of Center City flip over on a huge thirty-by-fourteen-foot scale model, synchronized with a narration, to show proposed improvements by 1982. He walked around a life-size reconstruction of what the exhibition’s creators considered a “dingy and overcrowded” block in South Philadelphia badly in need of rehabilitation. Here, at the top of the Gimbels flagship store, Logue and many others were introduced—through novel, World’s Fair–type exhibits—to fundamental concepts that would underlie urban renewal for decades to come.36 “It was magic,” Logue still mused nostalgically five decades later.37

The political connections that Logue already had in Philadelphia made it easy for him to find organizations and individuals who shared his view of urban redevelopment as a promising new frontier for liberal experimentation. In no time, he was attending meetings of the Philadelphia Housing Association, the Citizens’ Council on City Planning (CCCP), the Philadelphia branch of the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Here he served as a Democratic committeeman for his district and as a dedicated campaign worker in the exciting 1949 “revolution” in Philadelphia politics when the Democratic reformers Joseph Clark and Richardson Dilworth successfully wrestled the city out of the almost century-long stranglehold of the GOP machine.38 In the late 1940s, Logue’s Philadelphia became his schoolroom for early instruction in both physical and political renewal. And he was not alone in this regard. Many individuals were involved in both struggles, including Molly Yard, who was a leader of the Clark-Dilworth team, a board member of ADA, and the executive secretary of the CCCP. (She would cap her long career in progressive politics with the presidency of the National Organization for Women in 1987.) Housing low-income Philadelphians and redeveloping “blighted” neighborhoods stood high on the reformist Democratic Party agenda.

As Logue’s fascination with urban policy grew, so, too, did his impatience with the daily tedium of practicing law. As he wrote to Fred Rodell in July 1948, “The law is a whore’s trade. I don’t want a nice law practice for anything but the income, and I’m a son of a bitch if I’ll throw away ten or twenty years of my life building up an income.” Looking back a quarter century later, he also recalled becoming frustrated with the limited reach of a union attorney: “I discovered that being a labor lawyer was serving the interests of people who are in the labor unions and labor movement, but you weren’t going to run it … I knew … that that was not for me.”39

Casting about for alternatives, he came up with two job offers in politics. One was working for the recently elected U.S. senator Hubert H. Humphrey, who had made himself a liberal hero by proposing an enlightened civil rights plank for the 1948 Democratic Party platform. His passionate plea that “the time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights” precipitated the walkout of infuriated Southern Dixiecrats from the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, which Logue had attended as a local Democratic committeeman. The other offer came from the new Democratic governor of Connecticut, Chester Bowles, an advertising tycoon who had brilliantly masterminded a national system of price controls during World War II for the Roosevelt administration.40 In accepting the Bowles offer, Logue, for the first but not the last time, chose a local or state position over a federal one, because he felt he could make a greater impact more quickly at this level.

Logue became Bowles’s labor secretary, part of a liberal administration that swept into office determined to create a “Little New Deal” to reform Connecticut state government after a long Republican reign. Here Logue first tested the waters of government service as a more rewarding way to improve the world than practicing law—and he liked it. He became involved in many of Governor Bowles’s socially progressive initiatives in civil rights and social welfare, including coping with an acute postwar housing shortage, which further awakened Logue to the looming urban crisis: “His housing program … was the most farsighted and the most effective in any state at that time,” Logue later recalled.41

Partners in a whirlwind pace of work in Hartford, Ed Logue and Chester Bowles forged a warm friendship that would last for four decades, with Bowles serving as another father figure whose political commitment, social compassion, and moral integrity won Logue’s admiration.42 The voters of Connecticut proved less smitten with Bowles and his liberal agenda, however, and they booted out the governor and his idealistic young crew after a two-year term. Soon thereafter, President Harry S. Truman appointed the defeated Bowles as ambassador to India and Nepal, the third American to serve since India had declared its independence from the British Empire in 1947. Bowles invited Logue to come along as his special assistant, and by January 1952, Ed and Margaret Logue were on their way to New Delhi for about eighteen months, until the newly elected Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, sent both Bowles and Logue packing in spring 1953.43

India beckoned as a great adventure to thirty-year-old Ed and twenty-five-year-old Margaret, the only damper being questions raised by the State Department under its Loyalty and Security Program that red-flagged Ed and his brother John’s political activities. Ed was singled out for his labor organizing; for signing petitions sponsored by suspected communist-front organizations, such as one protesting the threatened deportation of the radical longshoreman Harry Bridges; and for other political actions that the State Department deemed suspicious. Logue responded at length to the chair of the State Department’s Loyalty Board, infuriated to be charged with harboring communist sympathies. He defended himself not by citing his history of anti-communism but rather by taking the more principled position of claiming that all his actions were legal and proper exercises of his constitutional rights. He reserved his greatest anger for the “improper and offensive” attention to his brother John, a lifelong adherent of the idealistic, anti-fascist, antiwar World Federalist Movement, founded in 1947 to promote more effective world governance than the fledgling United Nations appeared to promise: “It seems to me that my brother should have a right to know that sort of malicious gossip not only exists but has been dignified with such notice as this by his government.”

Years later, Margaret would shudder at memories of the incident. “Ed was terribly upset by it. Our first taste of McCarthyism.”44 Logue would reflect at greater length on the damage wrought by McCarthyism as he journeyed back to the United States in summer 1953. He blamed President Truman and his secretary of state Dean Acheson’s loyalty program, “which includes every last janitor and was never able to focus on the problem—nor to separate treason, subversion and actual disloyalty from either fuzzy thinking or radical thinking, the first of which cannot be helped and the second of which is in my opinion, so long as it is not unreasonable, subversive or disloyal, a useful thing to have in government, on the campus and elsewhere.”45


Many aspects of Logue’s experience in India profoundly affected him. He and Bowles became only more committed to improving civil rights in the United States when faced with mounting Indian criticism of American racial discrimination, particularly from the influential Communist Party of India. “The number one question at any press conference or forum was, ‘What about America’s treatment of the Negro?’” bemoaned Ambassador Bowles.46 In early 1953, Logue composed and began circulating widely a proposal he called “Is One Hundred Years Long Enough?” in which he idealistically called for a vigorous national commitment over the next ten years, in anticipation of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, to acknowledging that “the Negro problem in America today is not a Negro problem. It is a white problem.” He urged “mak[ing] democracy meaningful for thirteen million Americans who are not yet full partners in our society,… an opportunity to show our friends abroad, particularly the darker-skinned peoples in Asia and Africa, that American democracy is genuine and not the hollow mockery it sometimes seems when the color line is drawn.” Logue tried—unsuccessfully—to interest liberal organizations such as the Ford Foundation and the United Auto Workers in sponsoring a national, community-based campaign aimed at white Americans, “to examine ourselves to see the way to progress and to move toward it.”47

Most important for Logue’s later career in city building were his observations of the community development work that the U.S. government and the Ford Foundation were supporting across India. Focused on modernizing rural villages, assumed to be the bedrock of traditional Indian society, the State Department’s Point Four Program promoted a holistic approach to improving a village’s built environment, social welfare, and technical knowledge. Named for the fourth point in President Truman’s inaugural address of 1949, the program was born out of the fires of the Cold War to, in Truman’s words, “make the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas,” so that the “free peoples of the world, through their own efforts” would be able to “lighten their burdens.”48 New physical infrastructure such as wells, roads, schools, clinics, and community centers were to accompany reforms in land ownership and tenancy, public health, and education in everything from literacy to improved farming methods. Thirty-five thousand “village workers” trained by the Ford Foundation provided expertise on the ground. The goal was a more modern, self-sufficient, and, not least, democratic India—an India that could be counted on as a solid anti-communist American ally in Asia.49

Soon after Bowles and Logue arrived in New Delhi, they became intrigued with a demonstration project already under way at Etawah, in the nearby state of Uttar Pradesh. Originally conceived by the American architect and planner Albert Mayer in 1948 at the encouragement of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, this model site, covering ninety-seven villages, combined an anti-colonial Gandhian commitment to village survival with the extension service techniques (improved seeds, tools, fertilizer, livestock, irrigation) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In just three years, food production had increased by 50 percent and the project’s reach had extended to over three hundred villages. A more urban pilot project—the Indian government’s new cities of Faridabad and Nilokheri, intended for refugees of the partition of British India into the separate nations of Islamic Pakistan and Hindu India—likewise practiced an integrated approach, combining construction of new infrastructure with improved economic and social programs. Every family received a house with running water, factory jobs, and access to a modern hospital and schools.50

Bowles immediately went to work encouraging Prime Minister Nehru’s government and his own to partner in a much more ambitious, national-level undertaking. On the anniversary of Mohandas K. Gandhi’s birthday, October 2, 1952, Nehru proclaimed the launch of a nationwide program of community development with fifty-five projects, covering sixteen thousand villages and more than eleven million people. Although Nehru famously adhered to a policy of nonalignment in the raging Cold War, he framed this approach to eradicating village poverty through individual and community self-help as the next step in India’s democratic revolution. Nehru’s linkage of development and democracy pleased the Americans, who were themselves operating with assumptions rooted in the modernization theory popular at the time that economic progress would yield political democratization. Nehru’s American partner hoped that the result of its investment in community development would be not only more plentiful harvests and higher living standards but also an India that would serve as a bulwark of the “free Asia” it sought against the threat of communism. Looming over the American agenda was the recent “loss of China” to the communists, who had built their political base among the suffering peasants of China’s villages.51

While analysts now may debate the virtues and effectiveness of the massive American-supported efforts in rural development, there is little doubt that Bowles, Logue, and their colleagues felt that they were successfully applying modern Western science and democratic values to previously “backward” and exploitative rural conditions. But they also recognized the need to proceed cautiously. Bowles took special care to argue—particularly within his own State Department—that community development must be viewed as an Indian program that relied on a “grassroots, village-by-village attack upon poverty, directed by and participated in by the Indian people themselves.” It could not be a top-down, colonial-style American imposition, despite the reliance on expert advisers. As he warned his Republican successor as ambassador, George Allen, “Any effort by the Administration or Congress to tie political strings to Indian Aid or to force us to go out to ‘claim credit’ which really belongs to the Indians, will be disastrous.” Bowles was right to worry. For many reasons—including the Indian government’s reticence to enforce true land reform and wrest control from the landholding rural elites, and Point Four’s failure to adequately engage ordinary Indians in decision-making—community development was never as popular among villagers as Bowles had hoped.52

This Indian experience would stay with Logue for many years. By 1955, when he was working in New Haven, Point Four would provide a model for the kind of integrated physical and social reconstruction he was promoting at home. “As you may have heard, I am busy in a New England version of community development,” he wrote to Douglas Ensminger, the Ford Foundation’s representative in New Delhi. The following year, he tried to recruit Ensminger to speak to a seminar on urban renewal that he was co-teaching at Yale, convinced of the relevance of the community development experience in India. And in 1957, Logue was still claiming that his Indian community development work remained “very pertinent to the work I am now doing,” including its pitfalls. When he sought to give Bowles a balanced view of New Haven’s progress in urban renewal, he honestly admitted, without detailed elaboration, “New Haven has a good program. If our present plans mature by the end of the year, we will be one of the half dozen best in the country. However, you remember Nilokheri and Faridabad and Etawah. Their problems reappear here in other forms. We certainly have not found the panacea.”53

The community development work in India that so inspired Logue was the brainchild of a very distinctive—and politically progressive—group of social scientists and agricultural experts, which helped convince Logue of the worthiness of the undertaking. They had been agrarian Social Democrats within the New Deal’s Department of Agriculture, supported by its reformist secretary Henry Wallace and clustered in its Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Farm Security Administration, and land-grant college training programs. There they promoted all kinds of innovative projects to help family farmers—and even in some cases sharecroppers and farm workers—cope with the Great Depression and the growing threat from corporate agriculture. During World War II and its immediate aftermath, they found their cooperative county planning committees, state agricultural extension services, and other grassroots participatory schemes—what they called a “cultural approach to extension” for valorizing farmers’ long-standing customs and traditions—suddenly under attack in an increasingly anti-communist Congress. Despite the fact that most of them, like Logue and Bowles, condemned communism, they were pushed out of government service as too radical. The growth of international rural development work in the late 1940s and 1950s in what was then called “the third world”—sponsored by Point Four, the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization—provided these agricultural reformers with an opportunity to practice their integrated program of agricultural modernization and agrarian democratization overseas.54

Among this group, Logue particularly admired Wolf Ladejinsky, a Russian Jew who had immigrated to the United States, studied at Columbia, worked in the Department of Agriculture in Washington, and after World War II became a skilled strategist for pushing reluctant Asian governments to widen land ownership as the best defense against communism. The Logues met Ladejinsky when he came to India to advise on land reform, and they then visited him in Japan for three weeks as the last stop on their return trek through India, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Singapore, and Hong Kong. As the architect of sweeping land redistribution under the American Occupation, Ladejinsky surely conveyed to the Logues how the reconstruction of Japan was successfully integrating a reeducation in democracy with the physical rebuilding of a nation devastated in war. At the end of the trip Logue enthused in a letter to Ford’s Ensminger back in New Delhi: “This country could be the proving ground for democracy in all of Asia.”55

Later, in 1954 and again in 1956, Logue rallied to Ladejinsky’s defense when he was red-baited. First, Ladejinsky was forced to leave Japan when the Republican secretary of agriculture deemed his Russian origins a security risk. Then, two years later, when he was working on land reform in South Vietnam, the State Department dismissed him for a technical conflict of interest, as he had bought stock in a Taiwanese company that had a contract with the U.S. government. Logue was convinced that Ladejinsky was being politically targeted and was outraged. As he wrote to another associate from his India days, “Wolf is the leading democratic expert in the world on land reform. There is a certain irony in the fact that his resignation was forced because he was the only American publicly known to have invested a private dollar in private enterprise in Chiang Kai-Shek’s Formosa.” Logue tried to get the Ford Foundation to hire Ladejinsky, but it wouldn’t touch him. Nor would other American organizations fearful of a communist taint. From 1956 to 1961 Ladejinsky worked directly for the South Vietnamese government, until the Ford Foundation and later the World Bank finally took him on as a consultant.56 Historians have recognized that New Deal agricultural reformers carried many of their domestically tested ideas abroad to the developing world as the United States expanded its sphere of influence during the Cold War. But they have barely begun to track individuals like Ed Logue—or his American embassy colleague Bernard Loshbough, who helped direct development programs in India and then returned to the United States to work in housing and redevelopment in Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh. They brought many of those ideas back home again and applied them to America’s urban problems in the 1950s and 1960s. “It is ironic—perhaps shocking,” Loshbough mused in 1962, “that an urbanite like myself had to travel 10,000 miles to India to learn that a homegrown product like agricultural extension can likely be adapted for effective use in urban centers.” Loshbough would launch a highly regarded, Ford-funded “urban extension” program in Pittsburgh that mimicked its model in India, deploying “urban agents” to organize “self-help renewal” projects in four neighborhoods.57 The roots of Logue’s lifelong concern with improving America’s urban environment likewise grew deep in the soil of rural India, where, in the early 1950s, a complex alliance of different sorts of modernizing progressives—nonaligned Indian leaders, reformist agricultural experts, and a New Deal–inspired American embassy staff serving under a committed liberal ambassador—all embraced village renewal as the key to India’s success with democracy.

Logue brought the excitement of helping to build a new India to his work in New Haven. When the opportunity arose to join Lee in creating a model of urban renewal for the nation, he felt that he was undertaking his own version of Etawah, Faridabad, and Nilokheri. His urban upbringing in Philadelphia, his years as a rebel at Yale, his commitment to labor organizing, his aerial perspective as a bombardier, his civil rights activism, his legal training, his government service, and, most recently, his nurturing of a more modern and democratic India—each of these experiences shaped the Ed Logue who in January 1954 threw himself into the challenge of addressing the urban crisis in America through remaking his adopted hometown of New Haven.58 In the years ahead, Logue and his partner Mayor Dick Lee devoted themselves to what became an enormously ambitious, expensive—and ultimately controversial—undertaking. Redeveloping New Haven would be one of the most important testing grounds for federal urban policy in the 1950s and 1960s, and it would catapult Lee and his first lieutenant Logue into national prominence.

Copyright © 2019 by Lizabeth Cohen

Maps copyright © 2019 by Jeffrey L. Ward