Fantasy city : pleasure and profit in the postmodern metropolis / John Hannigan.

by Hannigan, JohnLooking glass.

Publisher: London : Routledge, 1998.Description: xvi, 239 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.ISBN: 0415150973; 0415150981.Subject(s): Cities and towns -- United States | City and town life -- United StatesLooking glass | Sociology, Urban -- United StatesLooking glassNote: Includes bibliographical references and index.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Fantasy City analyses the post-industrialist city as a site of entertainment. By discussing examples from a wide variety of venues, including casinos, malls, heritage developments and theme parks, Hannigan questions urban entertainments economic foundations and historical background. He asks whether such areas of fantasy destroy communities or instead create new groupings of shared identities and experiences. The book is written in a student friendly way with boxed case studies for class discussion.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • List of illustrations (p. ix)
  • Preface and acknowledgements (p. xi)
  • List of abbreviations (p. xiii)
  • Chronology of key events (p. xv)
  • Introduction (p. 1)
  • Part I Going out and staying in (p. 13)
  • 1 "At prices all can afford": the "golden age" of popular urban entertainment in America (p. 15)
  • 2 Don't go out tonight: suburbanization, crime and the decline of sociability (p. 33)
  • 3 "Cities are Fun": entertainment returns to the city center (p. 51)
  • Part II Landscapes of pleasure (p. 65)
  • 4 "Sanitized razzmatazz": technology, simulated experience and the culture of consumption (p. 67)
  • 5 Shopertainment, eatertainment, edutainment: synergies and syntheses in the themed environment (p. 81)
  • Part III Entertaining developments (p. 101)
  • 6 The "weenie" and the "genie": the business of developing Fantasy City (p. 103)
  • 7 Calling the shots: public-private partnerships in Fantasy City (p. 129)
  • 8 Gambling on fantasy: Las Vegas, casinos and urban entertainment (p. 151)
  • 9 Land of the rising fun: themed entertainment comes to the Asia-Pacific Rim (p. 175)
  • 10 Saved by a mouse? Urban entertainment and the future of cities (p. 189)
  • Notes (p. 201)
  • Bibliography (p. 208)
  • Name index (p. 226)
  • Subject index (p. 232)

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Publishers Weekly Review

In a devastating critique of what he terms the postmodern American city, Hannigan, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto, charts a growing trend: the spreading infrastructure of megaplex cinemas, malls, themed restaurants, casinos, music megastores and other large-scale entertainment complexes. In his skeptical view, such spaces transform the public world into insular commercialized spheres, allowing leisure and conviviality without real social interaction. Hannigan questions the alleged economic benefits these sites hold for local communities, arguing that they threaten the destruction of neighborhoods and local identities while creating a polarized metropolis catering to the overwhelming middle-class desire for predictability and security. He casts a dour eye on the overlap of "eatertainment," "edutainment" and "shopertainment" and examines the alliance of players involved in building the postmodern leisure environment‘real estate developers, corporate investors, retail operators and giant entertainment companies such as Disney, Universal, Sony, Warner Bros., Rank and Ogden. Looking back on the "golden age" of popular urban entertainment (1890-1925) when vaudeville halls, baseball stadiums, nightclubs and amusement parks blossomed, Hannigan argues that the captains of leisure maintained tight social control over a public culture that fostered the illusion of a democratic crowd where city dwellers mingled freely, regardless of race, class and gender. His provocative and far-sighted report will engage urban planners and all who care about the fate of U.S. cities. Photos. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Beginning with his 1995 review in Current Sociology, Hannigan's project has expanded to encompass a voluminous examination of academic and business publications about themed entertainment/consumption complexes now replicated throughout American and global cities. Building on the insights of George Ritzer, Michael Sorkin, Susan Fainstein, Sharon Zukin, and others, Hannigan critically chronicles the "golden age" of North American urban amusements, their replacement by suburban escapes, and current trends to lure middle-class consumers back to more sanitized, predictable downtowns. He also glances rapidly at the apparent extension of these phenomena into prerecession East Asia. In addition to its comprehensive scope, this book has special strengths in its analysis of the production of urban spaces of safe, profitable diversions through the synergy of entertainment megacorporations, real estate developers, planners, and public officials. Yet the sheer breadth of the literature and cases reviewed limits depth, nuance, and contexts. Hannigan organizes texts of and about these attractions rather than systematically exploring their intersections with complex urban systems. He also overlooks diverse readerships and uses, as citizens appropriate these opportunities among other facets of urban life to create future cities. Upper-division undergraduates and above. G. W. McDonogh; Bryn Mawr College