The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the 21st Century


D.W. Gibson - 2015
    It has so altered the way cities look, feel, cost, and even smell to such an extent that it’s hard to imagine that it could ever have been otherwise.   Over the last few years, journalists, policy­makers, critics, and historians have all tried to ex­plain just what it is that happens when new money and new residents flow in, yet we’ve had very little access to the human side of this phenomenon.  Up and Coming captures the stories of the many kinds of people—brokers, buyers, sellers, renters, landlords, artists, contractors, politicians and everyone in between—who are being shaped by—and are shaping—the new New York City. In this extraordinary oral history, DW Gibson takes gentrification out of the op-ed columns and the textbooks and brings it to life. Gibson explains— in the voices of the people living through it—what urban change really looks and feels like.   In the plainspoken, casually authoritative tradition of Jane Jacobs and Studs Terkel, Up and Coming is an inviting and essential portrait of the way we live now.

Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City


Mary Pattillo - 2007
    But in the late 1980s, activists rose up to tackle the social problems that had plagued the area for decades. Black on the Block tells the remarkable story of how these residents laid the groundwork for a revitalized and self-consciously black neighborhood that continues to flourish today. But theirs is not a tale of easy consensus and political unity, and here Pattillo teases out the divergent class interests that have come to define black communities like North Kenwood–Oakland. She explores the often heated battles between haves and have-nots, home owners and apartment dwellers, and newcomers and old-timers as they clash over the social implications of gentrification. Along the way, Pattillo highlights the conflicted but crucial role that middle-class blacks play in transforming such districts as they negotiate between established centers of white economic and political power and the needs of their less fortunate black neighbors. “A century from now, when today's sociologists and journalists are dust and their books are too, those who want to understand what the hell happened to Chicago will be finding the answer in this one.”—Chicago Reader “To see how diversity creates strange and sometimes awkward bedfellows . . . turn to Mary Pattillo's Black on the Block.”—Boston Globe

Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side


Eve L. Ewing - 2018
    Underprivileged schools. Just plain bad schools.”   That’s how Eve L. Ewing opens Ghosts in the Schoolyard: describing Chicago Public Schools from the outside. The way politicians and pundits and parents of kids who attend other schools talk about them, with a mix of pity and contempt.   But Ewing knows Chicago Public Schools from the inside: as a student, then a teacher, and now a scholar who studies them. And that perspective has shown her that public schools are not buildings full of failures—they’re an integral part of their neighborhoods, at the heart of their communities, storehouses of history and memory that bring people together.   Never was that role more apparent than in 2013 when Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced an unprecedented wave of school closings. Pitched simultaneously as a solution to a budget problem, a response to declining enrollments, and a chance to purge bad schools that were dragging down the whole system, the plan was met with a roar of protest from parents, students, and teachers. But if these schools were so bad, why did people care so much about keeping them open, to the point that some would even go on a hunger strike?   Ewing’s answer begins with a story of systemic racism, inequality, bad faith, and distrust that stretches deep into Chicago history. Rooting her exploration in the historic African American neighborhood of Bronzeville, Ewing reveals that this issue is about much more than just schools. Black communities see the closing of their schools—schools that are certainly less than perfect but that are theirs—as one more in a long line of racist policies. The fight to keep them open is yet another front in the ongoing struggle of black people in America to build successful lives and achieve true self-determination.

American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto


Sudhir Venkatesh - 2000
    A hopeful experiment in providing temporary, inexpensive housing for all Americans, the "projects" soon became synonymous with the black urban poor, with isolation and overcrowding, with drugs, gang violence, and neglect. As the wrecking ball brings down some of these concrete monoliths, Sudhir Venkatesh seeks to reexamine public housing from the inside out, and to salvage its troubled legacy. Based on nearly a decade of fieldwork in Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes, American Project is the first comprehensive story of daily life in an American public housing complex.Venkatesh draws on his relationships with tenants, gang members, police officers, and local organizations to offer an intimate portrait of an inner-city community that journalists and the public have only viewed from a distance. Challenging the conventional notion of public housing as a failure, this startling book re-creates tenants' thirty-year effort to build a safe and secure neighborhood: their political battles for services from an indifferent city bureaucracy, their daily confrontation with entrenched poverty, their painful decisions about whether to work with or against the street gangs whose drug dealing both sustained and imperiled their lives.American Project explores the fundamental question of what makes a community viable. In his chronicle of tenants' political and personal struggles to create a decent place to live, Venkatesh brings us to the heart of the matter.

Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect


Robert J. Sampson - 2011
    Some would have us believe that we act solely as individuals choosing our own fates regardless of our surroundings, while other theories place us at the mercy of global forces beyond our control. These two perspectives dominate contemporary views of society, but by rejecting the importance of place they are both deeply flawed. Based on one of the most ambitious studies in the history of social science, Great American City argues that communities still matter because life is decisively shaped by where you live. To demonstrate the powerfully enduring impact of place, Robert J. Sampson presents here the fruits of over a decade’s research in Chicago combined with his own unique personal observations about life in the city, from Cabrini Green to Trump Tower and Millennium Park to the Robert Taylor Homes. He discovers that neighborhoods influence a remarkably wide variety of social phenomena, including crime, health, civic engagement, home foreclosures, teen births, altruism, leadership networks, and immigration. Even national crises cannot halt the impact of place, Sampson finds, as he analyzes the consequences of the Great Recession and its aftermath, bringing his magisterial study up to the fall of 2010. Following in the influential tradition of the Chicago School of urban studies but updated for the twenty-first century, Great American City is at once a landmark research project, a commanding argument for a new theory of social life, and the story of an iconic city.

City on the Verge: Atlanta and the Fight for America's Urban Future


Mark Pendergrast - 2017
    Atlanta has the highest income inequality in the entire country, blighted neighborhoods and hideous highways, suburban sprawl, and racial injustice. While many cities across America suffer similarly, nowhere but Atlanta have they so dangerously collided.The most promising plan for Atlanta's rebirth is the Beltline, a massive ring of defunct railways already being transformed into a series of parks, pathways, and streetcars. Cutting through forty neighborhoods ranging from affluent to impoverished, the Beltline will complete a twenty-two-mile loop encircling downtown: shifting the character of the city toward a more walkable, prosperous, and enlightened future. By embracing its physical limitations, by building infrastructure and public amenities, and by offering citizens a vision to fight for, Atlanta is hoping to redeem its past and save its future. City on the Verge reveals how cities across the country can transform themselves for the better.

The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space


Don Mitchell - 2003
    Efforts to secure the American city have life-or-death implications, yet demands for heightened surveillance and security throw into sharp relief timeless questions about the nature of public space, how it is to be used, and under what conditions. Blending historical and geographical analysis, this book examines the vital relationship between struggles over public space and movements for social justice in the United States. Don Mitchell explores how political dissent gains meaning and momentum--and is regulated and policed--in the real, physical spaces of the city. A series of linked cases provides in-depth analyses of early twentieth-century labor demonstrations, the Free Speech Movement and the history of People's Park in Berkeley, contemporary anti-abortion protests, and efforts to remove homeless people from urban streets.

The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy


William Julius Wilson - 1987
    As policy makers grapple with the problems of an enlarged underclass they—as well as community leaders and all concerned Americans of all races—would be advised to examine Mr. Wilson's incisive analysis."—Robert Greenstein, New York Times Book Review"'Must reading' for civil-rights leaders, leaders of advocacy organizations for the poor, and for elected officials in our major urban centers."—Bernard C. Watson, Journal of Negro Education"Required reading for anyone, presidential candidate or private citizen, who really wants to address the growing plight of the black urban underclass."—David J. Garrow, Washington Post Book WorldSelected by the editors of the New York Times Book Review as one of the sixteen best books of 1987.Winner of the 1988 C. Wright Mills Award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing


Ben Austen - 2018
    Anthony Lukas, High-Risers braids personal narratives, city politics, and national history to tell the timely and epic story of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green, America’s most iconic public housing project.Built in the 1940s atop an infamous Italian slum, Cabrini-Green grew to twenty-three towers and a population of 20,000—all of it packed onto just seventy acres a few blocks from Chicago’s ritzy Gold Coast. Cabrini-Green became synonymous with crime, squalor, and the failure of government. For the many who lived there, it was also a much-needed resource—it was home. By 2011, every high-rise had been razed, the island of black poverty engulfed by the white affluence around it, the families dispersed.In this novelistic and eye-opening narrative, Ben Austen tells the story of America’s public housing experiment and the changing fortunes of American cities. It is an account told movingly though the lives of residents who struggled to make a home for their families as powerful forces converged to accelerate the housing complex’s demise. Beautifully written, rich in detail, and full of moving portraits, High-Risers is a sweeping exploration of race, class, popular culture, and politics in modern America that brilliantly considers what went wrong in our nation’s effort to provide affordable housing to the poor—and what we can learn from those mistakes.

In Defense of Housing: The Politics of Crisis


Peter Marcuse - 2016
    How did this happen and what can we do about it? Everyone needs and deserves housing. But today our homes are being transformed into commodities, making the inequalities of the city ever more acute. Profit has become more important than social need. The poor are forced to pay more for worse housing. Households are subjected to eviction and foreclosure. Communities face gentrification and displacement. And the benefits of decent housing are only available for those who can afford it. In Defense of Housing is the definitive statement by leading urban planner Peter Marcuse and sociologist David Madden. They diagnose the causes and consequences of the housing crisis and detail the need for progressive alternatives. Minor policy changes will not solve they problem, they argue. Rather, the housing crisis has deep political and economic roots, and therefore requries a radical response.

Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City


John Gallagher - 2010
    Author John Gallagher, who has covered urban redevelopment for the Detroit Free Press for two decades, spent a year researching what is going on in Detroit precisely because of its open space and the dire economic times we face. Instead of presenting another account of the city's decline, Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City showcases the innovative community-building work happening in the city and focuses on what else can be done to make Detroit leaner, greener, and more economically self-sufficient. Gallagher conducted numerous interviews, visited community projects, and took many of the photographs that accompany the text to uncover some of the strategies that are being used, and could be used in the future, to make twenty-first century Detroit a more sustainable and desirable place to live. Some of the topics Gallagher discusses are urban agriculture, restoring vacant lots, reconfiguring Detroit's overbuilt road network, and reestablishing some of the city's original natural landscape. He also investigates new models for governing the city and fostering a more entrepreneurial economy to ensure a more stable political and economic future. Along the way, Gallagher introduces readers to innovative projects that are already under way in the city and proposes other models for possible solutions-from as far away as Dresden, Germany, and Seoul, South Korea, and as close to home as Philadelphia and Youngstown-to complement current efforts. Ultimately, Gallagher helps to promote progressive ideas and the community leaders advancing them and offers guidance for other places dealing with the shrinking cities phenomenon. Readers interested in urban studies and environmental issues will enjoy the fresh perspective of Reimagining Detroit.

American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass


Douglas S. Massey - 1993
    It goes on to show that, despite the Fair Housing Act of 1968, segregation is perpetuated today through an interlocking set of individual actions, institutional practices, and governmental policies. In some urban areas the degree of black segregation is so intense and occurs in so many dimensions simultaneously that it amounts to "hypersegregation."The authors demonstrate that this systematic segregation of African Americans leads inexorably to the creation of underclass communities during periods of economic downturn. Under conditions of extreme segregation, any increase in the overall rate of black poverty yields a marked increase in the geographic concentration of indigence and the deterioration of social and economic conditions in black communities.As ghetto residents adapt to this increasingly harsh environment under a climate of racial isolation, they evolve attitudes, behaviors, and practices that further marginalize their neighborhoods and undermine their chances of success in mainstream American society. This book is a sober challenge to those who argue that race is of declining significance in the United States today.

Detroit: I Do Mind Dying: A Study in Urban Revolution


Dan Georgakas - 1975
    This new South End Press edition makes available the full text of this out-of-print classic--along with a new foreword by Manning Marable, interviews with participants in DRUM, and reflections on political developments over the past threee decades by Georgakas and Surkin.

The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn: Gentrification and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar New York


Suleiman Osman - 2011
    In The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn, Suleiman Osman offers a groundbreaking history of this unexpected transformation. Challenging the conventional wisdom that New York City's renaissance started in the 1990s, Osman locates the origins of gentrification in Brooklyn in the cultural upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s. Gentrification began as a grassroots movement led by young and idealistic white college graduates searching for "authenticity" and life outside the burgeoning suburbs. Where postwar city leaders championed slum clearance and modern architecture, "brownstoners" (as they called themselves) fought for a new romantic urban ideal that celebrated historic buildings, industrial lofts and traditional ethnic neighborhoods as a refuge from an increasingly technocratic society. Osman examines the emergence of a "slow-growth" progressive coalition as brownstoners joined with poorer residents to battle city planners and local machine politicians. But as brownstoners migrated into poorer areas, race and class tensions emerged, and by the 1980s, as newspapers parodied yuppies and anti-gentrification activists marched through increasingly expensive neighborhoods, brownstoners debated whether their search for authenticity had been a success or failure.

The New Political Economy of Urban Education: Neoliberalism, Race, and the Right to the City


Pauline Lipman - 2010
    Old paradigms are being eclipsed by global forces of privatization and markets and new articulations of race, class, and urban space. These factors and more set the stage for Pauline Lipman's insightful analysis of the relationship between education policy and the neoliberal economic, political, and ideological processes that are reshaping cities in the United States and around the globe.Using Chicago as a case study of the interconnectedness of neoliberal urban policies on housing, economic development, race, and education, Lipman explores larger implications for equity, justice, and "the right to the city". She draws on scholarship in critical geography, urban sociology and anthropology, education policy, and critical analyses of race. Her synthesis of these lenses gives added weight to her critical appraisal and hope for the future, offering a significant contribution to current arguments about urban schooling and how we think about relations between neoliberal education reforms and the transformation of cities. By examining the cultural politics of why and how these relationships resonate with people's lived experience, Lipman pushes the analysis one step further toward a new educational and social paradigm rooted in radical political and economic democracy.