Cover: A Shoppers’ Paradise: How the Ladies of Chicago Claimed Power and Pleasure in the New Downtown, from Harvard University PressCover: A Shoppers’ Paradise in HARDCOVER

A Shoppers’ Paradise

How the Ladies of Chicago Claimed Power and Pleasure in the New Downtown

Product Details


$43.00 • £37.95 • €39.95

ISBN 9780674987272

Publication Date: 04/15/2019


304 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

27 photos, 2 maps


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Helps to demonstrate how women participated in the transformation of Chicago’s culture simply by establishing their presence in public spaces.—Linda Levitt, PopMatters

An engrossing and interdisciplinary study… Remus makes a compelling argument about affluent women’s impact on public space and vividly describes how they were central to the development of a thriving culture of consumption. With perceptive attention to the physical world(s) of moneyed women, the book adds to the literature not only on Chicago and urban history, but gender, the built environment, and material culture.—Kathleen Daly, New England Journal of History

As suburban shopping malls and more recently e-commerce eclipse commercial downtowns, the department stores and theaters that once anchored them are disappearing. Remus’s wonderful book has much to teach us about the past, present, and future of downtown. Not only did rising consumption reshape the built environment of central cities in the late nineteenth century, but so too did battles over who belonged—or did not—in this new public space. As the metropolitan landscape shifts again today, Remus’s fascinating insights into the past remind us that much more is at stake than simply where we shop.—Lizabeth Cohen, author of A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America

A Shoppers’ Paradise creatively reframes our understanding of consumer culture. Through a series of brilliantly executed case studies of women in commercial public spaces in Chicago, Emily Remus highlights the interaction of pleasure, power, and danger. Drawing on forgotten conflicts over hats, hoop skirts, drinking, and other subjects, Remus highlights the political nature of debates about the right to consume. With special attention to legal cases, this book brings to life a rich and original archive. There is no book on consumer culture quite like this delightful and erudite study.—Lawrence B. Glickman, author of Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America

A Shoppers’ Paradise is an original and convincing contribution to our understanding of gender and public space in American cities. Remus argues that elite and middle-class women’s use of the public downtown landscape of theaters, cafes, shops, and the street as sites of consumption and pleasure over time transformed common awareness about the purpose of the downtown and women’s rights to the city as citizens.—Jessica Ellen Sewell, author of Women and the Everyday City: Public Space in San Francisco, 1890–1915

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