Alison Isenberg

Alison Isenberg headshot


Alison Isenberg writes and teaches about nineteenth and twentieth century American society, with particular attention to the transformation of cities, and to the intersections of culture, the economy, and place. Professor Isenberg's book Downtown America: A History of the Place and the People Who Made It (University of Chicago Press, 2004) received several awards: the Ellis Hawley prize from the Organization of American Historians; Historic Preservation Book Prize from Mary Washington University; Lewis Mumford Prize from the Society for American City and Regional Planning History; and an Honor Book award from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. At Princeton, Isenberg is a Faculty Associate at the Woodrow Wilson School(link is external) and has co-directed the Urban Studies Program(link is external) since Fall 2012. She serves on the Executive Committee of the American Studies Program, and is an Affiliated Faculty member in the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Professor Isenberg recently served two years as president of the Society for American City and Regional Planning History(link is external), a multidisciplinary organization bringing together scholars and practitioners from history, design and planning, American studies, geography, environmental history, art history, sociology, preservation, and policy. Isenberg has worked on the boards of the Urban History Association and H-Urban, and was founding review editor for the Journal of Planning History. Before joining Princeton in 2010, Professor Isenberg taught at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (2001-2010), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1997-2001) and Florida International University (1994-1997). Her scholarship has been supported by visiting fellowships at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture (2010), the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University (2006-7), the Institute for the Arts & Humanities at the University of North Carolina (2000), and the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe (1998-9). Shorter term fellowships from the Graham Foundation, James Marston Fitch Foundation, Hagley Museum and Library, Rockefeller Archive Center, Winterthur Library, and the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation have provided generous research resources. Before the Ph.D., Isenberg worked in the fields of affordable housing, parks planning, and historic preservation in New York City.