Judith Martin: Where We Live

Judith Martin taught me more about Minneapolis than anyone else did.

I graduated from the U of M with a degree in Urban Studies, which was the department Judith founded and directed, but I have to admit it mostly wasn’t there that she taught me about Minneapolis.

Instead it was in her books – Recycling the Central City, Where We Live, and especially Past Choices/Present Landscapes – that she served as an entertaining but thorough guide to the process that our young city took and is still taking in eternally becoming.  The books are hard to find (Judith shared a name with Miss Manners, apparently) but well worth it for anyone interested in the history of the Twin Cities or more generally the American city in the second half of the 20th century.

The Strib has an excellent obituary that says more than I can:

While Martin taught a generation of urban studies students at the University of Minnesota, she also jumped into the nitty-gritty of planning, serving 15 years on the Minneapolis Planning Commission, eight of them at its helm. She played a major role in rewriting the city’s zoning code and the comprehensive plan that undergirds it.

“She was a tireless advocate for the city,” said City Council Member Gary Schiff, who worked closely on city planning matters with her. “She inspired legions of students at the University of Minnesota to fight for a better urban environment.”

Thank you, Judith Martin, for the work you did to dust off Minneapolis’ scattered gems, buried under the rubble of wrecking balls or a century of industry.  We won’t see anyone else like you, and we sure could use a whole lot more of you.


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