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Thursday, June 23, 2005

A new book I checked out of the library...

I was doing some research on the internet on Chicago neighborhoods at the Encyclopedia of Chicago, and I was reading an article on the far south side neighborhood of Calumet Heights. In this article they mentioned a book by a former resident Louis Rosen. The title is The South Side: The Racial Transformation of an American Neighborhood.

This the story of racial change and turnover. How a community fell apart in the face of unfounded fears and how the community actually looks after the racial turnover. Racial turnover occured all over Chicago's south side.

This area is bounded from about the Chicago Skyway running diagonally on the east, to Stony Island on the west, and then the Illinois Central Railroad on the south. The racial transformation that began west of Stony Island started to seep east of Stony Island. East of Stony Island was the Jewish community which fell apart by 1970-71.

No doubt a white person who have though that blacks were poor, dirty, theives, violent, etc. would be surprised at how the old neighborhood looks if they visited today. Most of the blacks that moved into this neighborhood were middle class. The message could have been this didn't have to happen the Jews and the blacks could have been neighbors but it wasn't meant to be.

Of course this community wasn't entirely Jewish. There were whites of other ethnicities there too but this story revolves around the originally indigenous Jewish community and the migrating blacks who were moving in. These groups seem to have a similar history which hopefully could translate into friendship. They've both experienced horrible treatment of some kind, but that came for naught during a brief period in the 60s and early 70s.

This neighborhood east of Stony Island is still middle class today and mostly black. Also this area contains a neighborhood known as Pill Hill so named because that was where health care professionals had once lived. It is also home to Cook County Board President John Stroger. The people who left this place years ago would see that it hasn't changed much. Their synagogue and community center is now property of the Chicago Public Schools, but the houses are taken care of and the lawns are well groomed. The black residents have taken care of what the original inhabitants have left them.

I highly recommend this book. :)

1 comment:

Mike said...

It's interesting how in history we blame minority's for our problems. We never seem to take responsible for are own problems. That's just to difficult for us most of the time.

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