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Block by Block: Neighborhoods and Public Policy on Chicago's West Side (Historical Studies of Urban America) Paperback – May 10, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0226746654 ISBN-10: 0226746658 Edition: 1st

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Block by Block: Neighborhoods and Public Policy on Chicago's West Side (Historical Studies of Urban America) + Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago 1940-1960 (Historical Studies of Urban America)
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Product Details

  • Series: Historical Studies of Urban America
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (May 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226746658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226746654
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #713,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A creative reinterpretation of the postwar urban crisis, Seligman's book challenges the one-dimensional portrait of Chicago's West Side. Her multiplicity of stories and experiences makes this a very rich urban history. Original and useful, Block by Block is an important contribution to postwar urban historiography."
(Becky Nicolaides, author of My Blue Heaven)

"A fascinating account of Chicago's West Side in the postwar era. Based on a wide range of sources, Block by Block tells the story of a city in flux and residents trying to cope with changes occurring all around them. The emergence of a West Side ghetto is seen within the very real national and local political limits of the Daley era."
(Dominic A. Pacyga, author of Polish Immigrants and Industrial Chicago: Workers on the South Side)

"Seligman's deeply researched and well-focused study of race and residence in postwar Chicago usefully stretches the discussion in three directions. Geographically, she provides a real service by concentrating on the city's understudied West Side. Second, she carries the story down to the mid-1970s, significantly extending our field of vision. Finally, she removes the housing issue from its traditional policy vacuum. These are all welcome developments that will generate questions to engage scholars for years to come."
(Arnold R. Hirsch, author of Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940-1960)

“In the mid-20th century, increasing numbers of African Americans moved north for economic opportunities, creating demands for housing. They moved into formerly all-white neighborhoods and terms like ‘blockbusting’ and ‘white flight’ became common.  Seligman disputes the conventional wisdom that as blacks moved in, whites moved out. She uses neighborhoods in Chicago’s West Side to develop her thesis that such thinking is one-dimensional and unable to capture the multitude of issues and responses. First, the neighborhood infrastructure began to break down before the arrival of African Americans. Second, not all whites chose to leave; some remained to create genuinely integrated neighborhoods. Still others remained to protect the homogeneity of their enclaves; some went so far as to use physical threats against the African American in-migrants. Ultimately, of course, the color of the West Side changed, and an economic change followed as the more affluent blacks move to better areas. This is an important study for those interested in 20th-century affairs.”

(Choice)

"An impressively researched, highly persuasive survey of 1950s/1960s-era neighbourhood change."
(Larry Bennett Urban History)

"This is a good urban history that takes a new approach to the lives of lower and middle class whites living in urban America after World War II."
(Richard Chused Law and History Review)

"An important study that advances our understanding not only of housing desegregation on Chicago's West Side, but also of the complexities of race, suburbanization, community activism, and big-city politics in urban America. Block by Block is a vital work that should be on the bookshelf of anyone with a serious interest in post-World War II urban history."
(Konrad M. Hamilton Journal of Illinois History)

"This book affords a fresh and unique perspective on a troubled era in the history of America'[s streetcar suburbs.
(John F. Bauman H-Urban Net Book Review)

From the Inside Flap


In Block by Block, Amanda I. Seligman examines the responses of whites in the West Side communities of Chicago to the racial transformation occurring in their neighborhoods in the decades following World War II. Seligman's account illuminates that deterioration in these areas in fact began long before the color of their inhabitants changed from white to black. This book is essential to understanding how the "flight" of whites to the suburbs, and even the 1960s riots, were responses to developments in Chicago's physical and social landscape, occurring one block at a time.

"Seligman's deeply researched and well-focused study of race and residence in postwar Chicago usefully stretches the discussion in three directions. Geographically, she provides a real service by concentrating on the city's understudied West Side. Second, she carries the story down to the mid-1970s, significantly extending our field of vision. Finally, she removes the housing issue from its traditional policy vacuum. These are all welcome developments that will generate questions to engage scholars for years to come."—Arnold R. Hirsch, author of Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940-1960

"A fascinating account of Chicago's West Side in the postwar era. Based on a wide range of sources Block by Block tells the story of a city in flux and residents trying to cope with changes occurring all around them. The emergence of a West Side ghetto is seen within the very real national and local political limits of the Daley era."<Dominic A. Pacyga, author of Polish Immigrants and Industrial Chicago: Workers on the South Side>

"A creative reinterpretation of the postwar urban crisis, Seligman's book challenges the one-dimensional portrait of Chicago's West Side. Her multiplicity of stories and experiences makes this a very rich urban history. Original and useful, Block by Block is an important contribution to postwar urban historiography."<Becky Nicolaides, author of My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920-1965>

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Everyone who lives in Chicago should read this. Anyone who lives in a big city should read this. And, in particular, anyone who lives AROUND any city that is undergoing transformations should study this book. It is a real eye-opener about the processes that can be so destructive to a city. We tend to be convinced that we understand the processes that occurred that turned the West Side and the South Side of Chicago into what they are today. But this book showed me that a lot of the assumption are really not true. There are many things that communities can do to prevent those processes, as well as to do the work of stopping them and turning them around. This book deserves to be in wide circulation.
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More About the Author

Amanda I. Seligman is Associate Professor of History and Urban Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she has taught since 1999. She has won prizes and grants from the Urban History Association, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and others. Her current projects include a book about the history of block clubs in Chicago and the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee.

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Block by Block: Neighborhoods and Public Policy on Chicago's West Side (Historical Studies of Urban America)
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