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Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago 1940-1960 (Historical Studies of Urban America)

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226342443
ISBN-10: 0226342441
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Editorial Reviews

Review

' ... this excellent book . Hirsch has succeeded admirably in showing how racial conflict and government intervention recreated the black ghetto in postwar Chicago.' International Journal of Urban and Regional Research --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Hirsch is research professor of history at the University of New Orleans.
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Product Details

  • Series: Historical Studies of Urban America
  • Paperback: 382 pages
  • Publisher: The University of Chicago Press (May 8, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226342441
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226342443
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This one is a tough, but important, read. It covers the astonishingly large number of conflicts as the black population of Chicago grew during and (mostly) after World War 2. The book mainly covers the conflicts between 1945 and 1961. One of the most famous being the Cicero riot (more below).

The most difficult part of this book is the extreme detail. Virtually every conflict, from smallest to largest, is covered. You can be overwhelmed by the detail very quickly. Unless you are seriously interested in the details, I suggest that you get a copy of this book from your local library, or inter-librery loan program, and peruse it before purchasing this item. Special note for those who live, or have lived in Chicago & its immediate suburbs: BUY THIS BOOK!

The Cicero housing riot: This was caused when a white individual crossed the line from Chicago to Cicero (along Cicero Ave.) and rented an apartment. When it was discovered that it was a mixed race couple (the other member being black), all hell broke loose & the riot ensued with the intention of ejecting the family from their new apartment. The goal of the populace was to keep the line between Chicago & Cicero a hard demographic line between Black (Chicago) and White (Cicero).

The book details the incremental growth of the ghetto on the West Side of Chicago as it grew from Black population pressure. It also details some of the initial attempts at Slum Clearance. (See also: Blueprint for Disaster: The Unraveling of Chicago Public Housing, for more details.) The problem here is that as the slums were either cleared (Slum Clearance), or re-created (the high rise Housing Projects), the city lost its tax base & many institutions that depended on paying customers began to fail.
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Format: Paperback
Excellent review of how the Chicago Housing Authority, despite good intentions, ended up not only itself segregated, but reinforced existing housing segregation in the private market.
Hirsch actually takes a much broader view of his subject than public housing. Rather, he exp;ores the various ways public policy was manipulated (generally by commercial interests) to serve their own ends, and how those profit driven manipulations resulted in Chicago being one of America's most segregated cities. Ironically, the dramatic expansion of the Black Ghetto chronicalled by Hirsch occurred at the same time that the country was under seige by the forces of McCarthism...yet in Chicago, the commercial interests (lead by Marshall Field) had no compunction about seizing private property to serve their own ends.
Anyone who believes that neighborhoods are segregated because of private choices must read this book and learn the truth.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very detailed account of the way the Chicago power elite responded to the Great Migration. Detailed, in fact, to the point of opacity. This is a scholarly work written with peer review in mind and therefore crafted for an academic audience.

Nonetheless, it was able to give a person unfamiliar with Chicago and urban life (I was raised in the desert) an understanding of the forces that shaped the southside and westside ghettos.
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After reading The Hidden War,(which made extensive reference to Hirsch's book)I wanted a more detailed history about the creation of public housing as we know it to be in Chicago. This book gives detail of how the political,educational, civic organizations wanted to contain the burgeoning African American community which was growing during post world war II and the great migration years. The powerful in Chicago used government policies to maintain housing segregation...the powerless resorted to violence to keep African Americans out of neighborhoods...the results were the massive and bleak housing structures which are called public housing. This book not only talks about the historical wheelings and dealings of the white power structure, but it also gives insight into how the same tactics are being used today, to maintain certain class and racial segregation. This is a good companion must read along with The Hidden WARS.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am reading early chapters of the [Kindle edtion]and am riveted by the wealth of information and narrative which is done well enough to bring me on a visit in my mind's eye. Which overcomes the sparse amount of graphics and phtos and also well overcomes bits of Progressive [conventional] wisdom I take issue with.

The subject strongly resonates with me because of time in the mid 1970s in an island within part of the subject 'black belt', at college in IIT as an architecture student. We were quite aware and wary of the seemingly endless line of the projects both north and south of us but not of what was there before the campus construction of the 1950s-60s and also of what was there at that time, beyond the nabes I knew. I've gotten some answers with this book.
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This book is a fine piece of scholarship that thoroughly documents crucial and underappreciated chapters toward understanding the state of race, violence, and segregation in urban America. It is both expose of grotesque violence of and exploitation of African-Americans in the post-WWII period and also narrative tragedy of partially well-intentioned, but also profit-hungry or cowardly interests who expanded the oppressive ghetto in Chicago even as they thought they were trying to loosen it. Very important book.
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