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Old October 5th, 2006, 04:26 AM   #1
urbanpln
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Extreme Segregation Is Preventing Chicago From Reaching It's Full Potential

Let me first start by saying, I am a transplant from the southern United States. I am also an African American male who has earned a masters degree in urban planning. I currently work in my profession for the City of Chicago which has given me an opportunity to contribute to the rebirth of this great city.

After traveling to many great urban centers of the U.S., Canada and Europe (Barcelona, Paris, London, Amsterdam, etc.) my experiences have helped me to realize that Chicago is one of the great cities of the world. Still, Chicago needs to try harder to break the massive segregation that exist on the south and west sides. It is preventing the city from reaching its full potential. Although the city is busy, diverse and racially cosmopolitan, it does not feel as cosmopolitan as some cities of lesser importance. Part of the problem is, certain politians do not really understand what it takes for a city to continue to stay vibrant and healthy. Some elected officials have denied the sale of land to certain groups. They create negative vibes by not meeting or welcoming newcomers or people who do not look like them. Their rationale for doing this is that they want the indigenous population or people with historical roots in the community to have the land. They also say they're holding the land for the next wave of individuals who will move back into the city from the suburbs. This is an expensive gamble. Cities need new blood to survive and prosper (immigrants).

I am not saying this is the only reason why the south and west sides of the city are segregated but if immigrants are not made to feel welcome they will go where they are comfortable. Chicago's racial segregation problem was created by many factors which includes history, economics, labor and politics. It has had a devastating impact on the African American community. We have an opportunity break up some of the segregation. Hispanics and Asians are the fastest growing groups in the city they could help breathe new life into those areas of the city that need it. A more diverse south and west side would greatly improve the quality of life for the city and entire region.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 04:36 AM   #2
Steely Dan
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^ generally speaking, this forum has a history of being completely unable to discuss issues of race in this city with any sort of maturity or civility. i like your post a lot. i think there's a lot to discuss in there, but unfortunately, i fear the children will once again crawl out of the woodwork and destroy this thread.

i'm going to leave this thread open for now, but at the first sign of trouble, i'm afraid it's gonna have to go. i implore everyone to keep this civil and productive. i know, i know, it's probably a plea in vain, but it would be really nice if the retards would just leave this thread alone this time.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 06:32 PM   #3
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^ Dude, there were like 5 other posts (including one of mine) after this one. What happened to them?

Last edited by i_am_hydrogen; October 6th, 2006 at 04:24 AM. Reason: Accident, meant to quote not edit.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 08:41 PM   #4
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You make some good points. Unfortunately, the xenophobia running rampant in Chicago isn't going away anytime soon. Until this changes Chicago will be a big city with a world class downtown but not a truly world class city.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 11:31 PM   #5
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Yeah what happened to the other responses? I was looking forward to coming home and reading the discussion. I guess things may have gotten out of hand.

Also to the original poster, I cannot comment fully without doing more research for fear of sounding ignorant, but to me segregation in Chicago is one of the things that disturb me the most about society since I moved back to Chicago 2 years ago. It's just unbelievable in this city, and I would love to read about ways we can rectify this. It seems like very very slowly its changing for the better, but the politics of this city just won't help speed up the process.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 12:10 AM   #6
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Do other cities just not have hispanic neighborhoods, or black neighborhoods, or white neighborhoods?

From I've heard, London and Paris have very distinct ethnic communities, which are very un-integrated. Does that count as segregation?

Is it bad to have "little India" or "chinatown"? Or is it mainly the segrated black communities that we're worried about?
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Old October 6th, 2006, 02:03 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by UrbanSophist View Post
Do other cities just not have hispanic neighborhoods, or black neighborhoods, or white neighborhoods?

From I've heard, London and Paris have very distinct ethnic communities, which are very un-integrated. Does that count as segregation?

Is it bad to have "little India" or "chinatown"? Or is it mainly the segrated black communities that we're worried about?
^ It's not that--other cities certainly have distinct ethnic neighborhoods. What bugs me is that many of the black neighborhoods in Chicago (with some exceptions, of course) show evidence of such severe disinvestment and hopelessness that one wonders how a city of Chicago's standing can just sit there and let these neighborhoods remain in this condition. Not only that, but everybody seems to just neglect the south side altogether, even though its twice as large as the north side!

I blame it on many things--certain Alderman (Dorothy Tillman) who are stuck in the 60's and don't want any development in their wards, and general racism that hasn't gone away. Lets face it, whites in many north-sided Chicago hoods have just gotten accustomed to not seeing too many black people, and they clearly don't want that to change.

That's definitely NOT the case in other world class cities. In NY there are a lot of black people in my neighborhood but it's still considered a great, thriving, and safe place to live and walk around at night. I honestly think Chicago has not reached that point yet in regards to perceptions, but one cannot deny that Chicago still has a way to go with its high murder rates. People are afraid, I guess.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 04:24 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Urban Politician View Post
^ Dude, there were like 5 other posts (including one of mine) after this one. What happened to them?
He didn't delete them. One of the side effects of all this work on the site is that posts are being randomly deleted.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 04:42 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Urban Politician View Post
That's definitely NOT the case in other world class cities. In NY there are a lot of black people in my neighborhood but it's still considered a great, thriving, and safe place to live and walk around at night. I honestly think Chicago has not reached that point yet in regards to perceptions, but one cannot deny that Chicago still has a way to go with its high murder rates. People are afraid, I guess.
Okay... well, you live close to Harlem, don't you? Harlem is probably a very invested-in black community, right? But is that the norm?
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Old October 6th, 2006, 04:48 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by UrbanSophist View Post
Okay... well, you live close to Harlem, don't you? Harlem is probably a very invested-in black community, right? But is that the norm?
^ Well, I'm somewhat close to Harlem, but not quite. Either way, it's like that in many parts of Manhattan, if not the city has a whole
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Old October 6th, 2006, 12:20 PM   #11
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urbanpin, i think there is a certain amount of "historic geography" at play on the map of Chicago which shows the segregation you describe. the city was unquestionably one of the most segregated in the US. certainly part of this was due to a poisoned attitude on the part of many whites; however, it was also due to the strong power structure (machine) that Chicago had in the first 70 years or so of the 20th century which worked very hard to keep African Americans apart...other more declining cities would not have been able to pull off this dubious and obscene accomplishment.

as for Chicago today, I don't feel we are really that different from other US cities in race relations. certainly they are far better here than they were before and I would go out on the limb to say better than other less sophisticated cities, as well. I also feel the influx of hispanic and asian immigrants has shattered so much of the old Chicago black/white polarization.

The West Side is much smaller than the South...so looking at the South, keep in mind that it is (was) far more industrial and far more bisected by train lines than the North. The North Side for decades has been the more affluent part of the city. So issue of race, poverty, and location mix in having kept the South Side down.

I would venture to say that most Chicagoans believe we are the right path in putting our racial inequities behind us....without deluding ourselves from realizing we still have a long, long way to go.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 02:10 PM   #12
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I do not believe Chicago is more xenophobic as any other city in the the U.S. however, we could do a better job desegregating the city if our leaders understood how cities develop, grow and prosper. Many parts of the southside should be repopulating but, aren't due to political reasons. We could also do a better job of attracting other minority groups to the central area and the naughty northside. Many minorities work in the central area but, leave after work. Part of the problem is there are no places where all races can come together to work, play, shop and dine (a crossroad). Although I live on the southwest side, my wife and I dine out frequently in the central area and northside. What I mean by northside is Wicker Park/Bucktown, Lincoln Park, River North and other trendy neighborhoods known for great restaurants. We frequently visit the northside because of the great shopping, recreation, and energy found there. Most of the time we are the only African Americans dining in the restaurants. I have always been treated respectfully in those establishments. What bothers me is that few minorities are going to these great places that Chicago has to offer. The problem may be that minorities have been told that they're not welcome, which I find is not true but, more must be done to attract them. I know many minorities do not participate in the great cultural amenities offered by this city because of economic reasons. What ever the reasons are, we need to find ways to bring more people of color into these happening areas. The city will surely benefit. Maybe the Mayor's office could use the city's assets (schools, churches, media, etc.) more effectively to attract additional people into this great cultural mecca. There are some great things happing thatt we could use as a model. The State Street corridor is evolving into a multi-racial, fashionable street because of all the colleges located close by. The city is working to bring more to this corridor. A nightlife is badly needed there.
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Old October 7th, 2006, 01:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanpln View Post
I do not believe Chicago is more xenophobic as any other city in the the U.S. however, we could do a better job desegregating the city if our leaders understood how cities develop, grow and prosper. Many parts of the southside should be repopulating but, aren't due to political reasons. We could also do a better job of attracting other minority groups to the central area and the naughty northside. Many minorities work in the central area but, leave after work. Part of the problem is there are no places where all races can come together to work, play, shop and dine (a crossroad). Although I live on the southwest side, my wife and I dine out frequently in the central area and northside. What I mean by northside is Wicker Park/Bucktown, Lincoln Park, River North and other trendy neighborhoods known for great restaurants. We frequently visit the northside because of the great shopping, recreation, and energy found there. Most of the time we are the only African Americans dining in the restaurants. I have always been treated respectfully in those establishments. What bothers me is that few minorities are going to these great places that Chicago has to offer. The problem may be that minorities have been told that they're not welcome, which I find is not true but, more must be done to attract them. I know many minorities do not participate in the great cultural amenities offered by this city because of economic reasons. What ever the reasons are, we need to find ways to bring more people of color into these happening areas. The city will surely benefit. Maybe the Mayor's office could use the city's assets (schools, churches, media, etc.) more effectively to attract additional people into this great cultural mecca. There are some great things happing thatt we could use as a model. The State Street corridor is evolving into a multi-racial, fashionable street because of all the colleges located close by. The city is working to bring more to this corridor. A nightlife is badly needed there.
^ You are so right in so many of your points.

To be honest, I would like to see a black center of commerce in the city. Hyde Park partially fits that model, but not completely. I hope to see something like that evolve along 35th, 43rd, or perhaps elsewhere. I say that because it will draw a larger black community into the cultural mainstream of the city without feeling "left out". In turn, people of other races will surely be attracted to such an area and a better mixing of races can occur.

Of course, lets just remember that this is all talk--who knows if any of this will ever happen.

But to be frank, urbanpln, I have to put some blame on Tillman. WTF is her problem? If she won't open the doors to more development while hanging on to some outdated fantasy, then she needs to be replaced.
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Old October 7th, 2006, 01:34 AM   #14
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Having lived in Uptown my whole life, I can't say I have a hands-on familiarity with Chicago's segregation, but what would be some ways to "fix" it?
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Old October 8th, 2006, 05:38 AM   #15
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I believe the city missed a golden opportunity. When the CHA/Public Housing units were torn down, they should have been spread throughout the city, in all 77 community areas. Maybe even throught out the metro area. Currently the units are being constructed within the same five or six areas. If the CHA units were spread evenly across the city their impact on any one paticular community would be greatly diminished. One positive is, they are intergrated into the greater community and not rebuilt on one contiguous site. If this same method was applied throughout the city or metro area we would have had more balanced redevelopment which could have lead to a healthier city.
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Old October 8th, 2006, 06:29 AM   #16
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All cities have segregated/ethnic neighborhoods. This is due to heritage, mother land culture and natural selection. I don't take issue with that if these groups are Americans first. I love going to Little Italy, Chinatown, Greektown, etc. My question for the thread starter is if segregation is so bad, how come it only seems to affect blacks? Why are all of the other groups generally thriving?
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Old October 8th, 2006, 07:56 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanpln View Post
The problem may be that minorities have been told that they're not welcome, which I find is not true but, more must be done to attract them.
.....and you find this hard to believe??????? how in god's name can you say this isn't true? i grew up in chicago and if i must say, it has a LOOOOONG way to go in terms of bridging the cultural gap. it's a VERY racist city. you make it sound as if "minorities" are the problem. i truly have a problem with your post, urbanpln. you're not sounding realistic.
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Old October 8th, 2006, 09:40 AM   #18
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There's a timely bit of news to go along with this that I just read:

http://cbs2chicago.com/local/local_story_280201511.html

It's sad, not just because of the hopes and dreams that went down the gutter with the decline of Taylor homes, but also that the "solution" to the problems faced there seems that they simply want to push people from one poor neighborhood to another, without making any real attempts to fix the problems that led to the decline. How the most powerful country in the world can let such large sections of its cities decay is just depressing.
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Old October 8th, 2006, 02:20 PM   #19
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.....and you find this hard to believe??????? how in god's name can you say this isn't true? i grew up in chicago and if i must say, it has a LOOOOONG way to go in terms of bridging the cultural gap. it's a VERY racist city. you make it sound as if "minorities" are the problem. i truly have a problem with your post, urbanpln. you're not sounding realistic.
You're right, I should phrase that statement. I have not encountered any problems personally at restaurants, shopping establishments, clubs or recreational facilities in the central area and northside. I'm not saying that racism doesn't exist here, it's everywhere. I don't want to turn this into a debate about what city is more racist. I have visited most cities in this country and, found many so called world class cities more racist than Chicago. I don't believe it is any more racist than any other city in the U.S.. It has many problem with race, poverty and equality but so does most cities in this country. That's just my opinion.
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Old October 8th, 2006, 02:38 PM   #20
urbanpln
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MasonsInquiries View Post
.....and you find this hard to believe??????? how in god's name can you say this isn't true? i grew up in chicago and if i must say, it has a LOOOOONG way to go in terms of bridging the cultural gap. it's a VERY racist city. you make it sound as if "minorities" are the problem. i truly have a problem with your post, urbanpln. you're not sounding realistic.
I would never blame minorities for the problem. We didn't start this problem but, must participate in resolving it. I have encountered many negative experiences because of my skin color. I know what racism looks like. I am also an observer and to be a good observer one must also view both sides. I'm just searching for solutions not a reason to continue seperating people further apart. Lets just stick to the point, how to make Chicago reach its full pontential.
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