Power is the ability to define phenomenon

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Power is the ability to define phenomenon

Urban Renewal or Urban Removal?
INTRODUCTORY QUESTION: WHY SHOULD YOU READ URUR?
NOTE: If in a group, we recommend that the facilitator/teacher reads this piece in an engaging and dialogue-based way. Maybe read it once all the way through, then again piece
by piece. Start with this pro-learning and action quote, like the Student Journal, on what
“power” means.
“Power is the ability to define phenomenon and then make it act in a desirable manner.”
- Huey P. Newton
Leaders from the
University of Chicago
examine “renewal”
plans for Hyde Park.
What effects did these
plans have on Chicago
and you?
Is Chicago your home? If so, you may want to continue living here as long as you have good employment and an affordable, peaceful, and decent community in which to live. This hope, however, is
slipping away as more people are being pushed out of the city or forced to live in more impoverished,
segregated and destabilized communities. Some people, however, are “livin’ large” in the recently
gentrified communities of Chicago - communities recently endowed with an abundance of city
resources, amenities, shops, restaurants, good schools, lively nightclubs, cultural outlets, quality food
stores, and more.
How did it get this way? A more interesting question might be this: if people didn’t fight for their
communities, didn’t seek to escape segregation and overcrowding, and didn’t push for decent affordable housing, homeowner rights, and tenant dignity, how much more gentrified would Chicago have
been? How many more families would have been displaced?
Urban Renewal or Urban Removal? seeks to help you
answer these and other questions. It presents a story of
Chicago’s transformation from a serene and naturally blooming prairie with forests, sand dunes and swampland populated
and utilized for thousands of years by First Nation peoples
to a strategic fur trade, military, and transportation outpost
with Anglo-American land speculators engaged in a landgrab frenzy. Then it presents today’s segregated “megapolis”
perpetually catering, it seems, to a mostly affluent White
population. Chicago’s African-American population, on the
other hand, dropped by twenty percent between 2000 and
2010 – displaced from once predominately Black inner-city
communities.
To be displaced from one’s home is a traumatic experience.
According to one writer, those who endure displacement feel
a profound sense of loss or “root shock” as it becomes extremely difficult to make sense of the world and feel complete
again. Unfortunately Chicago’s history is filled with examples
of entire communities enduring the soul wound of displacement. An accurate look at this history reveals that Indigenous
Peoples (the First Nations) were the first to endure painful

Table of Contents
Part I: Indigenous Chicago (10,000 years ago to the 1830s)............................................6
Who Were the First Nation Peoples of This Land? What Happened? How did They Resist?
A Time Before Capitalism, White Supremacy, and Property Ownership:
The First Nation Peoples ...........................................................................................................................8
A Brief Look into Chicago’s First Nation History .....................................................................................8
Civilization: The First Peoples and First Nation Societies .......................................................................9
A Closer Look at a First Nation City ........................................................................................................10
Forced Co-existence: French and British Begin to Exploit First Nation through
the Fur Trade and Royal Land Grabs ........................................................................................................12
Co-existence Turns into Brutal Attacks and Fierce Resistance ..............................................................12
Rise of a Land-Hungry Empire – the United States of America ...............................................................14
American Indian Removal in the Chicago Area and First Nation Resistance ........................................15
Solidifying Structural Racism via the Law: The Chicago Treaty of 1833 ................................................18
Revisiting the Black Hawk War of 1832 ....................................................................................................19
Evaluating the Treaty with Chicago’s First Peoples ...............................................................................20
Part II: The Roots of Chicago Inequality (1830’s to 1910’s)...................................24
All Rise: Monopoly Capitalism, Labor Exploitation, and Land Values ..................................................27
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 ................................................................................................................29
Early Changes to Chicago’s Homes and Communities: Ghettos and Mansions ....................................33
Dreams, Money, and Ambition: The Chicago Real Estate Board Forms ................................................34
Chicago’s Workers Challenge Powerful Industrialists… Meet the Parsons .........................................35
Suburban Boom #1: Building White Utopias while Running from the “Dangerous Classes” ...............37
The “White City” as Social Bribery and Control of European Immigrants .............................................38
Early Black History in Chicago and the First Planned Segregation of African Americans ...................41
The Plan of Chicago Advances Social, Economic, Political Urban Designs ..........................................43
Chicago’s First Asian Communities Plant Firm Roots ............................................................................46
“Mi Gente,” Mexican Chicago: A Home Away from Home Emerges .......................................................54
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Table of Contents
Part III: Systematic Segregation and the 3 R’s:
Removal, Renewal, and Resistance (1910s to 1950s)..............................................62
The Rise of a Dual Housing Market and Extreme Segregation ...................................................................64
The Gilded Age: A Time of Extreme Wealth and Poverty...............................................................................65
The U.S. Government (FHA) Supports Chicago’s “Good Ole Boys” Racism ................................................66
Building Black Metropolis: Self-Reliance During Tough Times .................................................................67
Mastering Tricks of the Trade in Hyde Park: University of Chicago and Urban Renewal ...........................72
The Elevation of Urban Renewal and Its Lingo ............................................................................................75
Major Land Grabs: Michael Reese Hospital, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT),
Lake Meadows, and Prairie Shores ...............................................................................................................77
The Second Great Migration and Intensified Segregation ...........................................................................78
Land Swindlers: The Role of Real Estate Agents in Cementing Racism .....................................................79
Racial Violence in Chicago Kept Mostly Quiet..............................................................................................81
Black Organizations on the Rise - Come Under Attack ...............................................................................83
Part IV: Richard J. Daley’s Urban Renewal Agenda Hits Chicago
(1950s to 1970s)
...............................................................................................................................86
Large Scale Public Housing is Built (1950s) : Why? .....................................................................................88
Chicago’s Good Ole Boys Take Over CHA, Derail its Vision,
and Further Segregate Public Housing Residents into Poverty .................................................................90
“Walk on Water”: Richard J. Daley and the Politics of Urban Renewal .......................................................91
The Building Boom: Daley Consolidates Power to Push Removal and Renewal .......................................94
Effects of the Building Boom on Communities of Color: Marginalization ..................................................94
National and Global Patterns Heavily Affect Local Communities...............................................................95
Three Sides of the Urban Renewal Coin: Big Scores, Contested Spaces, Forgotten Communities............99
People’s Organizing Brings Hope to Impoverished Hoods ........................................................................110
Another “Masterplan” is Revealed and a Citywide People’s Coalition Unites to Resist..............................118
The Slumlord’s Brutal Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Arson for Profit..............................................................120
Urban Battlegrounds Heat Up: A Look at the Causes of/and Resistance to Displacement......................122

Table of Contents
Part V: Building a New Chicago… For? (1970s to 2012).......................................122
A Special Introduction to Building a New Chicago...For Whom?......................................................... 124
A Quick Look at Chicago’s Entrenched Income and Color Lines ....................................................... 126
President Ronald Reagan, Reaganomics, and its Far Reaching Impact............................................. 127
A Look at Six Major Shifts and Seven Urban Patterns....................................................................... 127
Dueling Urban Visions and the Real World .........................................................................................130
The Growth Machine, Real Estate Cycles, and a Global Capital City.................................................. 130
The Affordable and Just City .......................................................................................................... 133
The Real World City: Everyday Survival in the Urban Jungle ........................................................... 135
Resources Used in Part Five? .......................................................................................................... 136
What Happens After Reading? ........................................................................................................ 137
Part V. Chicago’s Housing Crisis Deepens – People’s Bases of Power Respond .................................... 138
Affordable Housing Solutions Existed – And Still Do ......................................................................... 139
Mayor Jane Byrne (1979-1983) From a People’s Friend to Downtown’s Director ................................ 140
Byrne’s Housing Plans Become Clear:
Defund Affordable Housing, Attack Public Housing, and Increase Condo Conversions .......................141
Overall Housing Cuts .......................................................................................................................141
Public Housing ................................................................................................................................ 141
Scattered Site Housing .................................................................................................................... 142
The 1992 World’s Fair that Wasn’t: Pilsen Residents and Others Organize .......................................... 142
Communities Caught in Cycles of Speculation: Revisiting the South, North and West Sides ................ 143
The South Side: East Pilsen, Chinatown, Bridgeport, Kenwood-Oakland, Englewood ....................... 143
The North Side: Cabrini-Green/Near North, Westtown, Uptown ...................................................... 148
The West Side: East Garfield Park, Abla Homes ............................................................................... 155
Communities Organize for Political Power - Independent of the Democratic Machine ..........................157
The Family Advantage Forms ........................................................................................................... 157
Charles Swibel’s Removal from CHA Demanded by Residents ............................................................ 158
A Black & Latino Political Coalition Unites ...................................................................................... 159
A People’s Menu for Justice Emerges ............................................................................................... 160
Moving the Mountain P.O.W.E.R. to Register 100,000 New Voters ...................................................... 162
The Battle for the Mayor’s Seat and City Council: Harold Washington ................................................ 163
Mayor Washington’s Housing and Development Plans ..................................................................... 164
Destabilization Brings Pain to Many Black Communities .................................................................. 167

Table of Contents
Daley: The Balance of Power Shifts Back to Machine Politics and Mass Speculation ........................... 171
Struggles for Housing Rights Rage Across the City – Local Peoples’ Power Bases Weakened ............. 173
Tax Increment Financing (TIF): A Tool for Growth or Displacement or Both? ..................................... 176
Economic Globalization Gains Steam: Who Benefits and Who Loses Out? ......................................... 178
The Global City Push Produces Life-Impacting Urban Changes ......................................................... 179
City Halts the Release of Housing Study that Shows Severe Crisis .................................................... 182
Closing out the 1990s and Entering a New Millennium with the Housing Gap Widening .................... 184
Economic Meltdown and Chicago’s Foreclosure Crisis ...................................................................... 187
Building a New Chicago... For Whom? ............................................................................................... 197
Part VI. Community Appendix (a small sampling)................................................A:1
Guide: Survival in the Big City: Some Housing Solutions and Supports.................................................. A:2
Poetry: When a City Cries, a poem on Cabrini-Green by Kuumba Lynx youth......................................... A:6
Poetry: Displacement (excerpts); I remember; both poems from youth in New Orleans....................... A:8
Poetry: Additional poems from Team Englewood High School students................................................ A:10
Historical Document: “Slums are Profitable,” The Firing Line, February 8, 1968................................... A:12
Historical Document: Letter from Mayor Richard J. Daley, Chicago 21 Plan, 1973................................. A:13
Historical Document: Newsletter cover from the Chicago Central Area Committee, 1975.................... A:14
Historical Document: Community Statement of the Pilsen Coalition Against The Plan 21, 1977.......... A:15
Historical Document: Community Pamphlet, Fighting the Chicago Masterplan (excerpts), 1977.........A:17
Historical Document: Black Survival Day, Cabrini-Green event promotional in Keep Strong, 1981...... A:22
Historical Document: Letter from Ald. Arenda Troutman to Ald. Helen Shiller on Housing, 1993........ A:23
Newspaper Headlines: Chicago Tribune housing articles, 2011 - 2012.................................................... A:24
Reports and Case Studies: Pilsen: A Community Divided, 2011................................................................ A:26
Reports and Case Studies: Creating a City in a Garden, by United Power for Action and Justice........... A:30
Reports and Case Studies: The Facts About Public Housing in Chicago, 2012........................................ A:39
Reports and Case Studies: The Avery Suit: Urban Renewal in Uptown, 2012.......................................... A:45

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