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The New Chicago

The New Chicago: A Social and Cultural Analysis

John P. Koval
Larry Bennett
Michael I. J. Bennett
Fassil Demissie
Roberta Garner
Kiljoong Kim
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Temple University Press
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  • Book Info
    The New Chicago
    Book Description:

    For generations, visitors, journalists, and social scientists alike have asserted that Chicago is the quintessentially American city. Indeed, the introduction toThe New Chicagoreminds us that "to know America, you must know Chicago." The contributors boldly announce the demise of the city of broad shoulders and the transformation of its physical, social, cultural, and economic institutions into a new Chicago. In this wide-ranging book, twenty scholars, journalists, and activists, relying on data from the 2000 census and many years of direct experience with the city, identify five converging forces in American urbanization which are reshaping this storied metropolis. The twenty-six essays included here analyze Chicago by way of globalization and its impact on the contemporary city; economic restructuring; the evolution of machine-style politics into managerial politics; physical transformations of the central city and its suburbs; and race relations in a multicultural era. In elaborating on the effects of these broad forces, contributors detail the role of eight significant racial, ethnic, and immigrant communities in shaping the character of the new Chicago and present ten case studies of innovative governmental, grassroots, and civic action. Multifaceted and authoritative,The New Chicagooffers an important and unique portrait of an emergent and new "Windy City."

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-772-5
    Subjects: Sociology, American Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)

    • 1 An Overview and Point of View
      (pp. 3-16)
      John P. Koval

      IT WAS FIRST said back in the 1880s: “Chicago is the most American of cities and to know America, you must understand Chicago”¹ (Miller 1997, 17; d’Eramo 2002, 8). The claim holds up to this day for two complementary reasons—one mythic and one real. Mythically, the Midwest is America’s “heartland”—the region that speaks to the imagined core of our national identity: what the country stands for and how it wishes to be defined. Chicago is our heartland’s capital. The city’s unique status might also be attributable to a fundamental reality. The birth of Chicago and the birth of...


    • 2 Globalization and the Remaking of Chicago
      (pp. 19-31)
      Fassil Demissie

      THIS CHAPTER EXPLORES the fundamental transformation that has taken place in contemporary Chicago in relation to both the globalization process and associated rise of neo-liberal approaches to public policy. In the first portion of this chapter, I present a general framework for interpreting globalization. Here, globalization is presented as one aspect of a new accumulation regime in which global cities play a pivotal role in the circulation of capital, commodities, images, and people. I emphasize the centrality of global cities as strategic sites in the functional repositioning of cities within nation states and across the globe. Against this background, I...

    • 3 Economic Restructuring: Chicago’s Precarious Balance
      (pp. 32-43)
      David Moberg

      AFTER SPURRING CITIES across the country into a bidding war for its favors, Boeing Corporation announced, in March 2001, that it was moving its corporate headquarters from its long-time Seattle home to downtown Chicago. Although $56 million in public subsidies brought only 450 jobs, Chicago political and business leaders celebrated the capture of the nation’s leading exporter and iconic global corporation as proof of the city’s intrinsic attractions as a world corporate center (McCourt, Leroy, and Mattera 2003; Reed 2003).

      On the other hand, relatively little fanfare erupted when Brach’s Confections Inc. announced two months earlier its plans to shut...

    • 4 Chicago’s New Politics of Growth
      (pp. 44-55)
      Larry Bennett

      APART FROM MICHAEL JORDAN and Al Capone, Chicago’s most prominent citizen has been Richard J. Daley, mayor from the spring of 1955 until his death in late 1976. Many Chicagoans suppose that Daley invented the Democratic Party machine that monopolized local political power during the middle decades of the twentieth century, although more accurately, Daley should be viewed as the innovative legatee of his precursors, Anton Cermak and Ed Kelly. What even close observers of Chicago politics sometimes fail to recognize is that there were two Richard J. Daley machines, the first a reasonably harmonious racial–ethnic choir that accompanied...

    • 5 The Physical Transformation of Metropolitan Chicago
      (pp. 56-81)
      Charles S. Suchar and Kenneth Fidel

      MARK TWAIN’S observations of Chicago, made more than a century ago, could not be more appropriate today. Although the last quarter of the twentieth century was witness to a most impressive array of changes and transformations that characterized many urban centers in the United States, this was especially the case in Chicago. These changes were responses to and the consequences of historical, social, economic, cultural, and political forces that, taken together, have helped to reinvigorate city life, change the physical and material character of the central city, and point the direction of the city’s future form—its urban morphology. Chicago,...

    • 6 Race Relations Chicago Style: Past, Present, and Future
      (pp. 82-94)
      Michael I. J. Bennett and Richard T. Schaefer

      THE INTRODUCTORY chapter in this volume quotes Miller and d’Eramo’s description of Chicago as the “most American of cities,” believing, “to know America, you must understand Chicago” (Miller 1997, 17; d’Eramo 2002). This chapter details the past, present, and projected future components of conflict, contest, and collaboration among the racial groups that make up Chicago and its metropolitan region, with an emphasis on black, white, and Latino relationships.

      Race has little to do with biology. Even the latest research from the Human Genome Project documents the difficulty of labeling as “race” clusters of characteristics as distinctive to any human grouping....


    • 7 Chicago: The Immigrant Capital of the Heartland
      (pp. 97-104)
      John P. Koval and Kenneth Fidel

      WHEN OSCAR HANDLIN (1951) wrote, “Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history,” he could just as easily have been talking about Chicago then as now. One hundred and fifty years ago, approximately half of Chicago’s population was foreign-born. Then, the Alien Immigration Acts of the 1920s, the Great Depression, and two world wars dramatically reduced the flow, and the proportion of the city’s foreign-born population declined to a low of 11 percent by the 1970s.

      Nearly 40 years have passed since the Kennedy-inspired Immigration Reform Act...

    • 8 Latinos of the New Chicago
      (pp. 105-114)
      Rob Paral

      FEW GROUPS embody the new Chicago as well as Latinos.¹ The Latino population has many of the characteristics associated with a dynamic and rapidly evolving modern city. These include a strong immigrant presence, a heritage distinct from Anglo traditions, bilingualism, heavy participation in new labor force sectors such as service jobs, and ongoing, rapid dispersion across many city neighborhoods and suburbs.

      Although the Latino population has been present since the early years of the twentieth century, its numbers have become substantial only in the last few decades. The 329,000 “Spanish-speaking” persons tallied by the 1970 census more than quadrupled to...

    • 9 New Chicago Polonia: Urban and Suburban
      (pp. 115-127)
      Mary Patrice Erdmans

      POLES HAVE BEEN immigrating to Chicago for over a century. Immigrant numbers peaked in the first decade of the twentieth century and by the time national quotas were introduced during the 1920s, almost half a million Poles and their children were living in Chicago. During the middle of the twentieth century, Polish migration was limited to mostly postwar refugees, but in the last decades, a new surge of immigrants arrived. These contemporary immigrants are similar to the earlier arrivals in that most of them are coming in search of jobs and a better life, many of them work as skilled...

    • 10 Asian Indians in Chicago
      (pp. 128-140)
      Padma Rangaswamy

      ONE OF THE earliest immigrants of Indian origin to have made his home in Chicago is Chandra Lachman Singh, whose adventurous life remains a little-known immigrant saga. He came to New York from Grenada in 1911. He traveled to Chicago, where he worked in a restaurant on Wabash Avenue before being inducted into the army in 1918. He served in World War I, became a naturalized citizen, and purchased and managed residential properties in Lincoln Park and Hyde Park. Between 1929 and 1932, he and his wife went to India, where they worked with Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National...

    • 11 Re-Visioning Filipino American Communities: Evolving Identities, Issues, and Organizations
      (pp. 141-153)
      Yvonne M. Lau

      The first recorded group of Filipinos arrived in Illinois 100 years ago. In 1906, shortly after America’s victory in the Spanish American War, 178 Filipino college students were sponsored by the government to study in the United States. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of the “pensionados” entered schools in Illinois, including the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois. This early migration of educated Filipinos to the Chicago region, spurred by the colonialist relationship between the United States and the Philippines, would set the context for future Filipino occupational groups. Despite changing patterns in occupational preferences and in the...

    • 12 The Korean Presence in Chicago
      (pp. 154-167)
      Kiljoong Kim

      A BRIEF history of Koreans in the United States covers just over 100 years. In Chicago, the initial composition of the Korean community was certainly unique, and its history has had a large effect decades later. Issues universal to all immigrants also apply to Koreans, such as changing expectations of gender roles and a growing generation gap. However, issues that not all immigrants directly faced, such as the Korean community’s intimate and sometimes violent relationship with the African American community, also form part of this history. Above all, Koreans have always prided themselves on resilience and perseverance, and their small...

    • 13 Chicago’s Chinese Americans: From Chinatown and Beyond
      (pp. 168-181)
      Yvonne M. Lau

      ALTHOUGH THIS DESCRIPTION was written more than 50 years ago by Paul Siu (1987) in his doctoral dissertation,The Chinese Laundryman, it aptly describes a significant number of Chinese Americans today. In recent decades, cities like Chicago have been transformed by changes in local and global restructuring that include the transnational migration of labor and capital. Given the higher visibility of Asian American populations in California and the Northeast, and the strong presence of Asian American and ethnic studies on bi-coastal campuses, smaller centers of Asian American community life in the Midwest and in cities like Chicago have been under-represented...

    • 14 Immigrants from the Arab World
      (pp. 182-196)
      Louise Cainkar

      Communities created by immigrants from the Middle East and the Arab world are part of the new urban mosaic brought about by changes in U.S. immigration law in 1965.¹ Once country quotas were eliminated, migration from the Arab world and Middle East increased dramatically. These immigrants and their children have changed the physical and social landscape of many American cities, particularly Chicago. Cook County, which encompasses Chicago and its inner ring of suburbs, has the third largest Arab population, the largest Assyrian population, and the largest concentrated Palestinian population in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau 2003b). At the same...

    • 15 Immigrants at Work
      (pp. 197-210)
      John P. Koval

      CURRENT CANONICAL LITERATURE about immigration and work contains two articles of faith germane to this chapter.¹ The first canon looks at the demand side of the new economy’s job market and asserts that “the leading immigration regions display a prominent tilt toward jobs for which training is required and away from jobs of an easy-entry sort and for which the required skills can be picked up as one goes… places where the new knowledge-based economy is most advanced” (Waldinger 2001, 309).

      The second article of faith focuses on the supply side of the job market. It asserts a skill mismatch...


    • Maps
      (pp. None)
    • 16 The Rebirth of Bronzeville: Contested Space and Contrasting Visions
      (pp. 213-220)
      Michael I. J. Bennett

      RACE AND CLASS struggles are well known to urbanologists who have studied and written about Chicago for the past century. In the case of Bronzeville, a community created by racial discrimination and then devastated by both urban renewal and urban disinvestment trends, residents and community leaders are now attempting to use racial heritage as an economic engine for community revitalization. In many instances, the cultural heritage theme has been supported and even funded by the city administration and the large white-owned institutions that heavily influence development decisions in this community. Over the past decade, considerable controversy has arisen over questions...

    • 17 Devon Avenue: A World Market
      (pp. 221-230)
      Padma Rangaswamy

      THROUGH THE HEART of Chicago’s 50th ward runs Devon Avenue, carrying the commercial lifeblood of a multicultural neighborhood known as the “international marketplace.”¹ Devon Avenue is the popular moniker, especially among South Asian immigrants, for what is called West Ridge in the Chicago community area maps and West Rogers Park by many Chicagoans. Devon Avenue’s international flavor is evident in its variety of shops and its 22 honorary street names from around the globe, such as Gandhi Marg, Golda Meir Boulevard, King Sargon Boulevard, Mohammed Ali Jinnah Way, Mother Teresa Way, and Sheik Mujib Way. As many as 52 languages...

    • 18 The Affordable Housing Crisis in the Chicago Region
      (pp. 231-238)
      Aurie A. Pennick and Howard Stanback

      PRIOR TO THE decline of manufacturing in South Side Chicago during the 1970s, relatively open, though unequal access was available to moderate-income employment, despite the intense local segregation of African Americans. As limited as their housing choices were, access to stable and living wages were within reach of most South Siders. However, preceding the decline of the local manufacturing economy and the subsequent contraction of African American household income, white flight from the city of Chicago to the suburbs had begun. A principal source of this massive relocation was white fear of the city’s burgeoning African American population, which had...

    • 19 Back to Its Roots: The Industrial Areas Foundation and United Power for Action and Justice
      (pp. 239-247)
      David Moberg

      MODERN AMERICAN community organizing traces its roots back to the work during the 1930s of Saul Alinsky, a tough-guy intellectual with an independent leftist outlook, who organized an impoverished eastern European neighborhood near Chicago’s famed stockyards. Alinsky saw his Back of the Yards Organization, as well as later groups, such as The Woodlawn Organization (TWO, in an African American, South Side Chicago neighborhood), as the community counterparts of the industrial unions that were organizing at the time (Horwitt 1989). These “peoples’ organizations” were intended to mobilize communities to fight for their self-interest outside the normal boundaries of politics and to...

    • 20 Chicago School Reform: Advancing the Global City Agenda
      (pp. 248-258)
      Pauline Lipman

      IN 1987, SECRETARY of Education William Bennett came to Chicago and pronounced its schools “the worst in the nation.” Just 11 years later, in 1998, President Clinton visited the city and declared that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) were “a model for the nation.” Indeed, at the millennium, Chicago’s school accountability system, based on high-stakes standardized tests, was an exemplar for urban schools districts and a template for the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind federal education legislation. This rapid transition, from disaster to model, in many ways marks the city’s transition to global city. But, just as we must look...

    • 21 Police and the Globalizing City: Innovation and Contested Reinvention
      (pp. 259-268)
      David Plebanski and Roberta Garner

      IN 1960, on a cold January morning in a shabby North Side neighborhood, police arrested 23-year-old Richard Morrison, soon to be labeled the “babbling burglar.” In his 77-page confession, the small-time crook implicated eight Summerdale police district officers in a burglary and fencing racket. In a vigorous effort at damage control, Mayor Richard J. Daley appointed a new police chief with academic as well as experiential credentials—O. W. Wilson—to launch a major reform of the Chicago Police Department (CPD). Not only were hundreds of police officers suspended, but a general process of structural and technological modernization began (Cohen...

    • 22 Transforming Public Housing
      (pp. 269-276)
      Larry Bennett

      DURING THE GLORY days of Richard J. Daley’s mayoralty, his admirers characterized Chicago as “the city that works.” The expression carried a double meaning. As late as the mid 1960s Chicago’s economic might and reputation for sustaining a well-tended social fabric remained unquestioned propositions. And, more pragmatically, Chicago’s municipal government was presumed to provide basic services—garbage collection, street cleaning, and the like—of a quality that was unmatched by other American metropolises.

      Political scientist Ester Fuchs (1992, 200), in her analysis of fiscal politics in New York City and Chicago,Mayors and Money, offers this observation regarding political leadership...

    • 23 Regionalism in a Historically Divided Metropolis
      (pp. 277-285)
      Larry Bennett

      ON NOVEMBER 19, 1998, one of Chicago’s most venerable civic organizations, the Commercial Club, issued a document ambitiously titled “Chicago Metropolis 2020: Preparing Metropolitan Chicago for the 21st Century” (Johnson 1998). Although each year dozens of Chicago-area civic organizations issue documents aiming to reshape one or another public policy debate, this report was unusual in its scope and was the object of uncharacteristic public attention. Among others, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley took notice, observing that “we, the city and suburbs, are all in this together. Only by working together will we be able to tackle the big issues” (Hinz...

    • 24 Coalition Politics at America’s Premier Transportation Hub
      (pp. 286-294)
      Joseph Schwieterman

      AT THE HEIGHT of the railroad era, Carl Sandburg described Chicago as a “Player with railroads and the nation’s freight handler.” Sandburg admired the city for its brawny character, its enterprising spirit, and its seemingly boundless industrial capacity. More than 80 years later, the city immortalized by Sandburg remains the country’s busiest freight and passenger interchange.

      By most commonly accepted measures, Chicago’s dominance in the transportation industry extends from the airline and railroad industries to commercial trucking. Despite a decline of heavy industry in the Great Lakes region, the bankruptcies of some of its largest common carriers, and economic changes...

    • 25 Urban Beautification: The Construction of a New Identity in Chicago
      (pp. 295-302)
      Costas Spirou

      DURING THE LAST 20 YEARS, cultural policy has become an integral part of economic and physical redevelopment strategies for many urban centers across the United States. Driven by deindustrialization, population decentralization, and globalization, many cities have turned to cultural strategies as a means to reposition themselves in a rapidly changing economic environment or to reaffirm their standing in an evolving metropolitan hierarchy.

      One factor fueling culture-driven strategies in urban development is that citizens now have more leisure-expendable income than ever before. This fact has led city governments to increase expenditures on culture and related specialized bureaucracies. As a result, policy-making...


    • 26 Learning from Chicago
      (pp. 305-318)
      Roberta Garner

      A NEW ACCUMULATION regime is transforming industrial cities. In this volume, we are not developing a one-size-fits-all “New Chicago paradigm,” but opening a conversation about change in industrial cities, the causes of similarities and differences in the effect of the new accumulation regime, and the ways in which actors contest and negotiate responses to converging forces.

      The five converging forces that organize this volume are part of an underlying process of social change, the onset of a new accumulation regime within capitalism, a trend that follows three major phases in capitalism: nineteenth-century industrial capitalism, the period of instability during the...

  9. References
    (pp. 319-340)
  10. About the Contributors
    (pp. 341-342)
  11. Index
    (pp. 343-353)