The politics and policies that govern urban areas in the United States are among the most important forces shaping American life. Home to two-thirds of all Americans, large cities and their suburbs usually generate 75 percent of our gross domestic product. Metropolitan areas display extremes of wealth and poverty; they also highlight the racial and ethnic diversity of America. This course will examine the politics and policies that have given American cities their distinctive features. We begin by analyzing the variation in patterns of urban politics, including struggles over jurisdictional boundaries; the emergence of political machines and reform governments; and strategies of community-based organizing. We then examine key areas of metropolitan policy including economic development, anti-poverty efforts, and education. The final section of the course considers three challenges facing metropolitan areas: proposals for a more sustainable city; strategies to influence equality; and the current efforts in the Obama administration to revamp federal policies toward the American metropolis.