Miller Center

Michael Fein

History, Brandeis University

Public Works: New York Road Building and the American State, 1880–1956

Fein photo

Michael Fein is an Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences and an Associate Professor of History at Johnson & Wales University.

Fein's dissertation led to Paving the Way: New York Road Building and the American State, 1880–1956 (Kansas University, 2008), which won the Annual Archives Award for Excellence in Research from the New York State Archives. Fein has also published a collaborative work with Professor David Moss at the Harvard Business School. 

Fein's dissertation, "Public Works: New York Road Building and the American State, 1880–1956," examined the link between infrastructure and political development. The project used New York State as a case study to explore the expansion of state capacity, providing a historical perspective on the development of New York's massive public works program, from the paving of the first state roads to the construction of the Thruway. In so doing, Fein shed light on the ways in which public construction helped to reconfigure landscapes and communities, as well as political and economic structures. From that study, he drew important insights on a vital question in policy history: How have the units of the state addressed modern problems that are national in scope but local in implementation?

Fellowship year: 2002

Mentor: Richard John, Columbia University

Selected Recent Publications

Paving the Way: New York Road Building and the American State, 1880-1956 (University Press of Kansas, 2008)

Tunnel Vision: ‘Invisible’ Highways and Boston’s ‘Big Dig’ in the Age of Privatization." Journal of Planning History 11, no. 1 (2008): 47-69.

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