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Old 03-14-2014, 05:48 PM
 
Location: East coast
613 posts, read 894,448 times
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I have read threads on this forum and people keep on bringing up American history of things like segregation, "white flight", racial tensions as why American urban areas are the way they are.

Is it really that much of an influence in shaping the way cities are, or is it really a smaller influence than people think with many factors, socio-economic, cultural, logistic etc. playing a much bigger role. Perhaps stuff like inner city decline would be an issue, regardless of race, with poor stuck there.

People claim West coasters (compared to East coasters or Midwesterners) and Canadians and Australians don't have the same history of race relations and that explains urban differences.

Is this really true?

And how about today?

I really, really, wish we could go beyond race hang-ups in this 21st century in our society but since people keep bringing it up, I really wanted to get an idea of how important people really think it was (or is?) in shaping urban planning.
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Old 03-14-2014, 06:20 PM
 
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Yes, it's really true. America has a long and very ugly legacy of racism--and that legacy saw a resurgence in the 19-teens and 1920s, just as the automobile and roads were starting to affect the shape of our cities. Racial exclusion covenants and formalized segregation were ideas that came into fashion at the same time as zoning laws.

If people say that folks on the West Coast don't have the same history of poor race relations, they're wrong. Race relations worked differently out here (immigrants from Asia and Mexico, smaller African American population, ethnic whites experienced a bit less discrimination) but racism definitely had its effects. Expulsion of Chinese from cities, imprisonment of Japanese Americans for their ancestry, slaughter and oppression of native tribes, and a law from Oregon's first Constitution that required nonwhites living in the state to be publicly whipped every 6 months if they stayed in Oregon. In more recent history, California voters overwhelmingly approved a 1964 measure to prevent a "fair housing" law from taking effect, resulting in the state losing federal redevelopment funds for 3 years until it was overturned, due to its clearly racist intent in violation of the Civil Rights Act.
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Old 03-14-2014, 06:32 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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For an example on the west coast, just look at the history of the Fillmore (a thriving Harlem-esque black neighborhood) district in SF. It is still hurting from 40s era redevelopment.

How urban renewal destroyed the Fillmore

More info:
http://www.pbs.org/kqed/fillmore/learning/time.html
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/...50995649_x.htm
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Old 03-14-2014, 08:03 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,043 posts, read 102,757,343 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markovian process View Post
People claim West coasters (compared to East coasters or Midwesterners) and Canadians and Australians don't have the same history of race relations and that explains urban differences.
Don't know which "people" you have been talking to, but Australia has a long reputation of racial problems.
Racism in Australia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Canada has its problems as well.
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/comme...al_canada.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/racism-in-canada/
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Old 03-15-2014, 09:04 AM
 
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There really isn't an "american" urban area. There's Boston and then there's LA. There's Miami and there's Chicago. There's Portland and Charleston. Detroit and Denver.

They're all very different places, have different histories, patterns of migration, housing types, industries, developed during different periods, etc, etc . . . and all have very different racial dynamics past and present.

The segregationist policies of the FHA from the 1930s until about 1972 was a major contributing factor. It facilitated so called "white flight" because, even if they wanted to stay, it made it incredibly difficult for white people to buy houses in the neighborhoods they already lived in. Indeed, when you see neighborhoods that had big drops in the white population in the 1950s - it's almost universally the white renters in the "family formation stage" of their lives that are leaving en masse.

Even if that wasn't the case most cities would still have most of the same problems. Urban populations were going to decline for other reasons - people with the means were looking to get out of their urban neighborhoods mostly because the housing was old and crowded. New suburbs were heavily subsidized often at the expense of taking care of existing urban housing and infrastructure. Policy makers from the late 40s to the late 60s had a singular vision for what US cities could and should be and that was basically a shimmering downtown of glass skyscrapers ringed by expressways - with all of the old housing leveled to make way for modern (read: suburban) housing and other amenities.

Even beyond that household size has fallen by half since 1955 and the population has gotten a lot older. Any city with fixed boundaries over the last 50 years was guaranteed to lose population.

As far as the racial dynamic goes, beyond the issues with mortgage lending, people tend to gloss over the fact that large numbers of african-americans in northern and western US cities is a phenomenon that only really goes back to WWII. The First Great Migration was significant but the Second migration was more than 3x the size and those who made the move were arriving in those cities just as they were de-industrializing and depopulating. Black families had maybe a generation of prosperity before it all disappeared.

The racial dynamic of most US cities not in the south come from a whole range of issues - a lot of it was policy driven and effected all poor or working class people regardless of race, some of it was deliberately racist and some was racist in outcome but not deliberate.
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Old 03-15-2014, 10:48 AM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drive carephilly View Post
There really isn't an "american" urban area. There's Boston and then there's LA. There's Miami and there's Chicago. There's Portland and Charleston. Detroit and Denver.

They're all very different places, have different histories, patterns of migration, housing types, industries, developed during different periods, etc, etc . . . and all have very different racial dynamics past and present.
This is a point that is often forgotten on the forum where posters often lump all cities as one and the same, however there are some trends in common throughout the US, especially within the same region.
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Old 03-15-2014, 11:07 AM
 
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Yes and I don't see why white flight is in quotations as if it's something that's fake.


This is a very good podcast on housing segregation(and continued segregation) which is just one component to the long history of race relations in the US and how it relates to urban issues.

House Rules | This American Life


There's a lot of information about these topics and many books have been written about it. I know a lot about how things went down on the east coast and with African-Americans(and a little about Native Americans), but I do want to learn more about latinos and asian american immigrants since they also suffered from the same time of ethnic oppression. And as others have already mentioned, countries like Australia and Canada and regions like Latin America also have the same kind of histories though they're different than what happens/happened in the US.
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Old 03-15-2014, 11:14 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Canada and Australia never really had urban migration of minorities the same way the US did, they have had immigration but nothing akin to the Great Migration, where an impoverished and discriminated population migrated en masse to large cities.
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Old 03-15-2014, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
This is a point that is often forgotten on the forum where posters often lump all cities as one and the same, however there are some trends in common throughout the US, especially within the same region.
It is good to note that for places like California, the great migration came for blue collar jobs. There wasn't a long history with black institutions like colleges and churches. Or a history of black middle class or elites. So the black people here were disproportionately impacted by the decline of American manufacturing etc when the middle class income producing jobs disappeared.

That hugely shapes the current dynamics. In the north and south, there is a much longer black history and more class variation.
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Old 03-15-2014, 11:34 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
That hugely shapes the current dynamics. In the north and south, there is a much longer black history and more class variation.
The south, yes. The north maybe more than the west but nowhere as much as the south. The black population was minor in many northern cities in 1950, the black migration was just larger to the north than the west.

Looking at a map, of say, NYC in 1950 and seeing where the black population was concentrated, I noticed:

1) The black population was extremely segregated. The segregation of the Puerto Rican population wasn't as extreme.
2) You could predict which neighborhood would lose population to the suburbs fairly easily. The neighborhoods near the existing black neighborhoods often had a larger decline, and a much faster outmigration of existing residents.

Ignoring race would make little sense in looking at the demographic trends. Other northern cities were somewhat similar. Unlike most American cities, NYC experienced a later migration of blacks after the Second Migration from the West Indies and to a lesser extent Africa, though partially balanced by out-migration of previous black residents. Most black immigrants settled in existing, very segregated black neighborhoods. In contrast, London experienced a similar sized West Indian migration but the black population is nowhere as segregated and more diffuesed around the city: there's no 70%+ black neighborhood in London.
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