NPR

'Supersizing Urban America': How U.S. Policies Encouraged Fast Food To Spread

A new book examines how federal government policies made it easier for minorities to open fast-food franchises than grocery stores. Today the landscape of urban America reflects this history.
A new book examines how federal government policies made it easier for minorities to open fast-food franchises than grocery stores. Today the landscape of urban America reflects this history. Source: Chris Kindred for NPR

In 1974, McDonald's set its sights on opening a new franchise in Manhattan's Upper East Side at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 66th Street. This location wouldn't be anything like the ketchup and mustard colored buildings in the suburbs. It would be tasteful and blend in with the townhouses surrounding it. Regardless of aesthetics, Upper East Siders were having none of it.

As Chin Jou, currently a professor of American history at the University of Sydney, writes in her new book, Supersizing Urban America, this war between residents and McDonald's became known as the "Battle of Lexington" in the press. The residents gathered over 11,000 signatures and

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