Christopher Klemek

Associate Professor of History
Phillips Hall 303
Address: 801 22nd St. NW
Phone: 202-994-0419
[email protected]

Christopher Klemek traces the political and intellectual shifts affecting urban policy and city life. His first book, The Transatlantic Collapse of Urban Renewal: Postwar Urbanism from New York to Berlin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), compares the fate of older industrial cities in Europe and North America, including Berlin, London, Toronto, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. That publication won the biennial Davidoff book prize from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning as well as the Kostof Book Award of the Society of Architectural Historians. He has been named a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as a Schwartz Fellow at the New-York Historical Society. Klemek also takes an active interest in public history and has developed an online community history project, DigitalDC, showcasing undergraduate research from Washingtoniana archives. In 2007, he co-curated a New York Municipal Art Society exhibition on Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, which the American Planning Association's New York Metro Chapter recognized with its William H. Whyte Award for a "project that is distinguished by creativity in the field." In 1997, he co-founded Poor Richard's Walking Tours, a Philadelphia-based public history enterprise, and has since been featured as a guide to cities on radio, television, and in print media.

Klemek has received repeated recognition for pedagogy, including George Washington University's 2016 Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching Excellence--an award nominated by undergraduates, endorsed by departmental colleagues, and chosen by a faculty/student committee on the basis of "outstanding undergraduate teaching"--as well as the 2016 WID Distinguished Teaching Award for his "innovative engagement of students as writers of cutting-edge digital and public history."


Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2004.


"Urban Renewal." In The Oxford Research Encyclopedia in American History, ed. Jon Butler. New York: Oxford University Press (forthcoming)

“History, Community Service, and the Built Environment.” In Interacting Past and Present in Urban History, ed. Jeffry Diefendorf (forthcoming).

“Key Planning Histories of the Late 20th Century.” In The Routledge Handbook on Planning History, ed. Carola Hein. New York: Routledge, 2016.

“Exceptionalism and the National Capital in Washington and Paris.” In Capital Dilemma: Growth and Inequality in Washington DC, ed. Derek Hyra and Sabiyha Prince, 11-26. New York: Routledge, 2016.

“West Village Houses.” In Affordable Housing in New York City: Triumph, Challenge, and Opportunity, ed. Nicholas Bloom and Matthew Lasner, 210-213. Princeton University Press, 2015.

“Roots and Routes of Urban Renewal.” Forum in Journal of Urban History 40, no. 4 (July 2014): 633-635.

“Jane Jacobs and the Transatlantic Collapse of Urban Renewal” in Contemporary Perspectives on Jane Jacobs, ed. Dirk Schubert: 171-184. Burlington: Ashgate, 2014.

The Transatlantic Collapse of Urban Renewal: Postwar Urbanism from New York to Berlin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.  Winner, 2011 Paul Davidoff Book Award of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.  Winner, 2014 Spiro Kostof Book Award of the Society of Architectural Historians. 

“Dead or Alive at 50? Reading Jane Jacobs on her Golden Anniversary,” Dissent (Spring 2011): 73-77.

"The Rise and Fall of New Left Urbanism." Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 138, no. 2 (Spring 2009): 73-82.

"From Political Outsider to Power Broker in two 'Great American Cities': Jane Jacobs and the Fall of Urban Renewal Order in New York and Toronto." Journal of Urban History 34, no. 2 (2008; special issue on "Politics and the American City, 1940-1990"): 309-332.

"Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York." In Block by Block: Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York, ed. Timothy Mennel, Jo Steffens, and Christopher Klemek, 7-11. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007.

"Bacon's Rebellion: Philadelphia's Master Planner as False Prophet." Context: Journal of the AIA Philadelphia 1, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 34-40.

"Jane Jacobs' Urban Village: Well Preserved or Cast Adrift?" Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 66, no. 1 (March 2007): 20-23.

"Placing Jane Jacobs within the Transatlantic Urban Conversation." Journal of the American Planning Association 73, no. 1 (Winter 2007): 49-67.

"Always a Divided City? Segregation, Fragmentation, and 'the Problem of the Color-Line' in Twentieth Century Urban History." Archiv für Sozialgeschichte 46 (2006; special issue on "Integration und Fragmentierung in der europäischen Stadt"): 557-564.

"Mall Meets Maker: Suburban Developer as Failed Reformer." Journal of Planning History 4, no. 3 (2005): 268-279.

Classes Taught

Hist 1000: Capital Cities: Paris & Washington
Hist 1311: Introduction to American History from 1865
Hist 2020W: Washington D.C.: History, Culture, Politics
Hist 3324: US Urban History
Hist 3001: Comparative Urban History: 20th Century
Hist 3001: Environmental History since 1750
Hist 4098W: Readings for the Major
Hist 4098W: Undergraduate Thesis Seminar
Hist 6001: Urban History
Hist 6011: Reading and Research in History and Public Policy

SUST 2002: The Sustainable City