THE SLUM AND THE GHETTO: Neighborhood Deterioration and Middle-Class Reform, Chicago, 1880-1930 by Thomas Lee Philpott

THE SLUM AND THE GHETTO: Neighborhood Deterioration and Middle-Class Reform, Chicago, 1880-1930

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Long known as the North's most segregated city, how did Chicago get that way--""a city of magnificent distances, with its workers penned up like hogs and steers"" in separate enclaves before and after World War I? In this crisp, forceful, abundantly documented study, a University of Texas historian examines the growth of the tenement system, the labor unrest that invited settlement-house ""neighborhood control,"" and the emergence of solid Negro concentrations by the 1890s. It was the acute WW I housing shortage, writes Philpott, that produced the 1919 interracial riot with its white slogan, ""They Shall Not Pass."" After the war, reformers like Julius Rosenwald of Sears, Roebuck and Mary McDowell of the Back-a'-the-Yards settlement project accepted the color line, and further discovered that real-estate interests found no profit in making a Black Belt livable, if segregated. Meanwhile, neighborhood centers helped immigrants leave their ghettos, but to the extent they dealt with black Chicagoans at all, served to ""close them off."" Philpott persistently contrasts the sheer wealth of Chicago with the narrow paternalism of its more enlightened leaders and the harshness of life for both white and black workers; he graphically surveys the violence of mobs and the quieter brutality of housing restriction; and he makes his scholarly findings memorable.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press