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date: 30 March 2017

Spatial Segregation and Neighborhoods

Summary and Keywords

During the 1890s, the word segregation became the preferred term for the practice of coercing different groups of people, especially those designated by race, to live in separate and unequal urban residential neighborhoods. In the southern states of the United States, segregationists imported the word—originally used in the British colonies of Asia—to describe Jim Crow laws, and, in 1910, whites in Baltimore passed a “segregation ordinance” mandating separate black and white urban neighborhoods. Copy-cat legislation sprang up in cities across the South and the Midwest. But in 1917, a multiracial team of lawyers from the fledgling National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) mounted a successful legal challenge to these ordinances in the U.S. Supreme Court—even as urban segregation laws were adopted in other places in the world, most notably in South Africa. The collapse of the movement for legislated racial segregation in the United States occurred just as African Americans began migrating in large numbers into cities in all regions of the United States, resulting in waves of anti-black mob violence. Segregationists were forced to rely on nonstatutory or formally nonracial techniques. In Chicago, an alliance of urban reformers and real estate professionals invented alternatives to explicitly racist segregation laws. The practices they promoted nationwide created one of the most successful forms of urban racial segregation in world history, rivaling and finally outliving South African apartheid. Understanding how this system came into being and how it persists today requires understanding both how the Chicago segregationists were connected to counterparts elsewhere in the world and how they adapted practices of city-splitting to suit the peculiarities of racial politics in the United States.

Keywords: segregation, cities, urban space, transnational, race, neighborhoods, inequality, racial inequality

Divided Cities Are Stunted Cities

To begin, it is worth clarifying the nature of segregation as a form of social inequity and injustice. This can be done in several ways. One is to focus on separation itself and to obstacles segregation creates to beneficial communication between racial or socioeconomic groups with urban space. Sociologists have measured this lack of proximity using a wide array of segregation indices, whose sophistication has increased markedly since the 1990s. For the United States, in the 1950s and 1960s, these indices reached levels close to those of contemporary South African cities under apartheid. Since then, they have tended to show a mild decrease in segregation between most groups in recent years, but they still remain very high. Though whites, blacks, and other people of color interact in limited ways in other institutions and on many downtown city streets, few question that most still return home to vastly separate worlds. 1

Housing discrimination and a lack of enforcement of civil rights laws offer another way to conceptualize segregation. Most of the world’s governments, including the U.S. federal government since 1968, have declared housing discrimination illegal. Yet, largely because of continued push-back against fair housing laws, the U.S. government has failed to allocate sufficient resources for the enormous task of bringing violators to justice, let alone that of compensating victims. This situation was confirmed in 2008 by a bipartisan federal commission on housing equity, which found that in the United States only about twenty thousand out of an estimated four million acts of housing discrimination receive any official attention in any given year.2

A more comprehensive historical view of segregation begins with the idea that dividing urban residential space is a way of controlling the process by which urban newcomers discover livable niches in cities and gradually claim access to superior opportunities for livelihoods available there. Those who are targeted by segregation face obstacles to the kind of geographic mobility and dispersal throughout the urban fabric that is necessary to gain access to the full range of social and economic opportunities. In this way, urban race and class zoning work similarly to immigration restriction along national borders, which likewise prohibits mobility toward spaces of greater privilege and promise. Perceived from this vantage, segregation can also be seen as a fundamental violation of the “right to the city,” that is, the right to access advantages that are by their very nature primarily found in urban areas.

Very often, groups of newcomers to cities cluster in so-called vestibule neighborhoods reception areas, or ports of entry with people of the same place of origin, language, or culture. Because they have served as powerful magnets for immigrants, many American cities have had several or even dozens of these neighborhoods. This process of clustering is often misleadingly called “voluntary segregation” or even “good segregation”—to distinguish it from “forced” or “bad” segregation. The distinction is misleading for several reasons. First, “forced” segregation is itself the most “voluntary” of all forms of segregation. Racist segregationists have the will, the clear purpose, and the actual power both to live together and to exclude others from their neighborhoods. Thus, they go about their business in the fullest sense of the word “voluntary.” Immigrant groups, by contrast, may wish to cluster together, but they rarely have the institutional power to exclude others from their reception areas, whether or not they had the collective will to do so. Though some “ethnic neighborhoods” contained a clustering of businesses, places of worship, and ethnically based associations of one group, they were almost always multiethnic and even in some cases multicolored. In the United States, only when elite white segregationists made the Chicago-inspired segregationist policies of government and private institutions available to groups of immigrants deemed “white” did those groups actively participate in excluding “non-whites,” including African Americans, Latino Americans, and occasionally Asian Americans. Indeed, the jury is out on exactly how “good” clustering really is for newcomers. For most, access to superior prospects means the ability to move freely to neighborhoods that are closer to the employment and educational opportunities that best suit individual households. Because of the system of racial segregation that came to rule U.S. cities, the right to seek out greater opportunity eventually meant the ability to disperse “voluntarily” into suburban areas. This was the path followed by virtually all immigrant groups who achieved “white” status. Yet, that right was precisely what the same segregationist system denied to most people of color.3

The bleak consequences of neighborhood racial segregation for African Americans and Hispanic Americans (especially those with darker-skin color) are well documented. These include poor access to those areas of the city with the most dynamic job growth because of the distances involved, physical barriers, discriminatory law enforcement techniques such as racial profiling in traffic stops, or the lack of transport. Obstacles to accruing wealth through the housing market have included low housing appreciation rates, higher home mortgage and insurance costs, and lack of access to maintenance capital. Barriers to high-quality education stemmed from systems of school financing based on local property tax receipts. Draconian law enforcement campaigns, such as the War on Crime and the War on Drugs, have singled out segregated neighborhoods of color resulting in a massive outflow of their residents to prisons, and a greater risk of violent death at the hands of police officers. Other consequences include relative absence of healthy food due to lower local investment in full-service food markets, poorer water quality, greater exposure to household and industrial toxins, and inadequate health-care facilities. All of these factors resulted in poorer health and lower life expectancy. In many African American neighborhoods in the United States residents live shorter lives than residents of some of the least-developed countries of the world. 4

Once segregationists put residential color boundaries in place, they can rely upon the very fabric of urban space to help them hoard resources and power in their favored neighborhoods and to enable early death in neighborhoods they marginalize. Initially an act of political will, segregation thus also becomes an exemplary instance of the “agency” of the city itself—one that weakens cities’ vaunted capacity to deliver general improvement to the masses of humanity that have become urban residents during our own era.

The Segregation Paradoxes

Cities, by their very nature, amass people. They bring us close together, cheek by jowl, in teeming crowds; they bless our yearnings for the social. Yet one of the oldest impulses in city design is to drive people apart: to rend the urban fabric into separate and unequal zones, to indulge our equally human penchant for distinguishing the” we” from the “them.” Though the word segregation is a recent invention, and though the concept of race is not much older, the impetus to divide cities is as old as cities themselves—we could call it our “original urban sin.” Eridu, known as Mesopotamia’s “urban Eden,” was founded seventy centuries ago. The ziggurats that came into being there and elsewhere in the region, constituted nothing less than a separate, monumental urban neighborhood for the gods, set above and apart from the mortals who thronged the dustier wards below. The Mesopotamian version of the divine-human boundary likely took thousands of years to solidify as the region’s urban palace-temple districts became more foreboding. But the Sumerian ziggurat—and its later analogs the Chinese Forbidden City, the Mesoamerican teocalli, the royal citadel, the acropolis, the Palatine Hill—have cast a shadow upon all cities since. From the outset, city-splitting was intrinsic to domination and hierarchy.5

It is a long stretch, of course, from Eridu to the “chocolate cities” and “vanilla suburbs” of the present-day United States. Only through another of segregation’s paradoxes can we adequately ponder the connection. If city-splitting impulses can make any claim to universality, they can do so only because of their enormous variability. As urban civilizations rose, fell, and rose again across the millennia, so did the basic formulas determining who belonged in the elect districts and who did not. The outer walls of cities put in place one aspect of segregationism: they divided the urban and the urbane from the rural and the rustic. Within cities themselves, local residents marked themselves as “from here” by corralling their city’s foreigners—those “from there”—into separate compounds. Whether strangers were locked in or given control of their own district, they became especially useful to local leaders as scapegoats, partly too because so many were rich merchants or financiers and thus vulnerable to charges of parasitism and greediness. The many iterations of this nasty trick include the invention of the Jewish ghetto in Europe during the Middle Ages. Elsewhere and in other times, creed, class, caste, clan, craft, and even sex could determine urban boundary lines to greater or lesser degrees. Dividing lines were also more penetrable in some places than others. Sometimes—paradoxically again—the porosity of the boundaries was essential to their operation as a tool of domination. How could local elites maintain their aloof status, for example, if they did not enroll hundreds of shanty-dwellers as domestic servants and provide them quarters in the very heart of the palace?

Segregationists embraced urban dividing lines because segregation gave them a tool of enhanced power. Divine-right monarchs were the first city-splitters; they were helped by court intellectuals or priests, and, in other ways, by landowning elites. Divided cities enabled such power-brokers to establish authoritarian governments, to disseminate official state ideologies, and to stockpile wealth. But as a political tool segregation has always been paradoxical in its own right. No matter how powerful, segregationists also have to expend large quantities of power to put the boundary lines in place. Splitting a city requires huge effort and expense, and it demands specialized tools of its own, designed explicitly for making, unmaking, and remaking urban space. Over the millennia these tools have included monumental architecture (as in the ziggurat), walls, palisades, battlements, bastions, fences, gates, guard shacks, checkpoints, booms, railroad tracks, highways, tunnels, rivers, inlets, mountainsides and ridges, buffer zones, free-fire zones, demilitarized zones, cordon sanitaires, screens of trees, road blocks, violent mobs, terrorism, the police, armies, curfews, quarantines, pass laws, labor compounds, building clearances, forced removals, restrictive covenants, zoning ordinances, racial steering practices, race-infused economic incentives, segregated private and public housing developments, exclusive residential compounds, gated communities, separate municipal governments and fiscal systems, discriminatory access to land ownership and credit, complementary rural holding zones, influx control laws, and restrictions against overseas immigration. In great part, segregation persisted because city-splitters adapted to changing circumstances by varying the combinations of these tools in seemingly countless ways.6

The Rise of Urban Color Lines

In the modern era, a new notion of human difference arose: race. By fusing scientific universality and political malleability, race gave Western city builders license to do something unprecedented: to stamp a single civilization’s segregationist style on cities spread across every inhabited continent—in the process reinforcing the West’s global hegemony. In a series of five wide-reaching historical lurches during the 18th and 19th centuries, Europeans spread racially divided colonial cities across Asia, the Pacific Rim, Africa, and parts of the Americas. In the process the signature spaces of the new form of city-splitting proliferated: white towns, black towns, “Asiatic” bazaars, Chinatowns, native locations, black townships, and black ghettos. All of the tools used by earlier segregationists were brought to bear. New enhanced techniques of class segregation were developed in Europe and shipped across oceans and empires to become tools of racial control.

Governments, as in premodern times, were the biggest segregationists in the era of race. The British, French, and American empires account for most of the new urban color lines, though the Spanish, Dutch, Belgians, Germans, Italians, and even the Portuguese were active as well. Segregation enhanced the prestige and “manifest destiny” of these empires’ “ruling races.” More practical imperial administrators, such as Stamford Raffles in Singapore or Lord Lugard in Nigeria, also averred that racially divided cities minimized disputes between subject peoples with differing legal systems.

A new group of modern-era, globe-trotting, semi-independent professional intellectuals also played crucial roles in the spread of segregation. Race theorists helped justify Western imperialism as well as the split cities needed to sustain it. Successive generations of peripatetic urban reformers promoted it as well. Public health officials, for example, thought segregation necessary to minimize health threats posed to whites by the inferior races and their supposedly inherently poor sanitary habits. Later, housing reformers allowed their slum clearance and public housing schemes to serve segregationist ends. Professionalized urban planners also incorporated segregation into what they called “comprehensive” blueprints for ever more lavish colonial cities.

Another, somewhat more anarchic institution also spread through the colonies at the same time: the global capitalist real estate industry. The new tools that it pioneered, such as London’s land-use covenants in property deeds, were adapted to solidify color lines. But the expanded property rights upon which the industry was based also weakened race boundaries in many colonial capitals. There, wealthy Asians or Africans could afford to buy and live in the white town. Because empires depended on allies among local elites, colonial officials sometimes balked at legislating or enforcing racial zoning. 7

Segregation’s variability, backed by the power of empires and their roving experts, nonetheless won out. Urban segregation was central to the earliest big undertaking of modern Western empire-building, the British conquest of India. The first surge of racial segregation began with the original “White Town” and “Black Town” at the British East India Company’s principal outpost at Madras (today’s Chennai), which later helped inspire the less successfully divided capital at Calcutta (Kolkata). As the conquest proceeded, practices of segregation by color further diversified among the hundred and seventy five segregated military and civil “stations” of the British Raj. In Asia—scattered from Afghanistan to the Malay Peninsula, from the hot military outposts in the Indian plains, such as Canpore, Mian Mir (near Lahore), or Secunderabad (near Hyderabad), to the cool “hill stations” in the uplands, such as Simla, Darjeeling, or Ootacamund—racial segregation proved enormously adaptable in diverse political, social, economic, religious, and geographical terrains.8

The second surge, associated with the European “opening” of China, brought segregation to places as diverse as Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Yokohama. From there the concept of the Chinatown spread across the Pacific, following the emigration of millions of Chinese people to the Americas and Australasia. In these places, urban segregation adapted for the first time to the rawer racial politics of white settler colonies, such as those headquartered in San Francisco, Vancouver, Melbourne, and Honolulu.9

The year 1894 marked the debut of the word segregation as a global political slogan. The occasion was the global plague pandemic that began in Hong Kong, and, two years later, in Bombay. There, panicked public health officials evicted Asian plague victims wholesale from their homes, often to redeposit them in “segregation camps.” Their actions sparked the third and, to date most widespread surge in implementation of segregation at the turn of the 20th century, namely segregation mania. This mania for splitting cities travelled across much of the colonial world, as calls for segregation multiplied everywhere ship-born rats carried plague-infested fleas—eastward to Hawaii and California and westward to African cities from Nairobi to Cape Town to Accra and Dakar. In West Africa, the mania was strengthened by fervent campaigns targeting urban Africans (especially their children), suspected as the prime source of malaria plasmodia carried by the mosquitoes that sent so many white men to their tropical graves.10

Professional city planners also entered the business of city-splitting during the period of segregation mania. Backed by lavish imperial investment and power, they initiated the fourth surge of racial segregation by resurrecting the city-dividing capacities of monumental architecture in their designs for colonial capitals. Exemplified above all by Edwin Lutyens’s New Delhi and Henri Prost’s Rabat, the capital of French Morocco, the broad avenues, looming palaces, and elaborate racial zoning systems called for in their plans were intended to function as arrogant disquisitions on the contrast between the timeless but backward splendor of the East and the cutting-edge progressivism of the West.11

As these third and fourth surges crested in a worldwide frenzy of racial city-splitting, they coincided—paradoxically again—with the rise of the most important global adversaries of race segregationism. In the early 20th century, people of color everywhere began joining the giant tide of loosely interconnected anticolonial, national liberation, civil rights, and black freedom movements that would later launch an unprecedented revolution against white supremacy and Western imperialism. While interwar and postwar decolonization did not end urban segregation—for class boundaries grew more acute in cities everywhere, including in former colonies—it did terminate the tradition of separate white towns and black towns that had been in place for two hundred and fifty years.


The story did not end there, though, for the era of segregation mania also gave birth to a fifth surge, exemplified by two much more robust and radical forms of racial city-splitting—in South Africa and the United States. In these two countries, the practice of urban racial segregation actually gained ground amidst the great mid-20th-century calls for race equality. For that reason I call the systems in both places “archsegregation.”

South Africa and the United States were white settler societies where the settlers themselves held unusually commanding positions in politics. They were places where a screaming pitch of white supremacy was sharpened by an opposing sense that white power was especially vulnerable to a “rising tide of color”—whether arising from the perceived threat of the black majority in South Africa or that of the “Great Migration” of blacks to U.S. cities. The two countries were both directly connected to British and other European networks of reformers as well as the many actors of the transnational urban real estate industry. That meant that local segregationists found it relatively easy to import a wide range of urban reform legislation and planning practices useful in dividing cities by race, including slum clearance and public housing legislation, state-guaranteed mortgage protections for first-time homebuyers, racist public health ideologies, restrictive covenants in title deeds, British jurisprudence that clarified how these functioned, and zoning laws. Both societies were also major importers of British capital, courtesy of transnational development and construction companies. Both also welcomed British-style organizational instruments such as title registries and property courts; professional associations of real estate agents, appraisers, lawyers, and surveyors; and homeowners’ or ratepayers’ associations. Finally, urban whites in South Africa and the United States also possessed a permanent stake in local real estate markets, unlike the peripatetic communities of imperial officials who formed the majority of whites in most colonial white towns. They were thus susceptible to the self-serving myth that black neighbors brought down the value of nearby property. This myth linked segregation tightly to racially infused economic incentives that completely transformed the role of the real estate industry in the politics of city-splitting. It also gave a new logic to the policies and practices that both societies imported from abroad. From a source of irritation for government-led segregationist planning, the business of buying and selling land became a nearly unstoppable force of urban racial division.12

Comparing the two archsegregationist societies reveals another paradox. South Africa, the society that most publicly, unrepentantly, and viciously harnessed city-splitting to the power of formal discriminatory legislation, also took the longest to be successful. Then it expired the quickest; apartheid is, after all, no longer with us. The American system, which by contrast was designed to operate as much as possible outside the fray of politics, not only divided cities earlier and with almost as much efficiency as apartheid at its height, but it also remains alive and well.13

This paradox highlights the sharp differences in the two systems, which are as important as the elements they shared. The explanation largely lies in striking contrasts in the historical contexts of black-white politics in each society. In South Africa, black-white politics arose from a matrix of imperial conquest and land dispossession. Under the law of conquest that followed, blacks, coloreds, and Indians had severely limited civil, political, and property rights. White racial fears notwithstanding, the resistance movements of color wielded relatively little leverage during the era of segregation mania, even when Indians organized under the aegis of Mohandas Gandhi. As a result the British Empire, and the whites-only Union of South Africa it helped found in 1910, created legislated racial segregation instruments—such as Native Location laws, labor compound policies, pass laws, and rural reserves—early in the period of segregation mania. From there, the notoriously strident politics of “black peril” in places such as Johannesburg, combined with vicious anti-Asian sentiment, propelled national discussions toward state-legislated segregation. But the state precedents themselves, virtually unchecked by any liberal constitutional authority, also channeled South African segregationist movements’ priorities toward the same goals. Their victories, such as the Native (Urban Areas) Act of 1923, the Slums Act of 1935, and the apartheid-era Group Areas Act of 1950, all built upon the political precedents of earlier laws.14

In the United States, by contrast, black-white politics proceeded from the regional conflict over slavery and emancipation. The victory of the North in the Civil War and the period of Reconstruction that followed gave the victorious Republican Party, based largely in the North, overwhelming political incentives to give largely Southern black men a wider range of rights, including property, civil, and voting rights. These newfound rights proved fragile, and the U.S. Supreme Court whittled away at these nearly continuously throughout the late 19th century and beyond—most notably in its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which gave the green light to segregationist Jim Crow laws. But even at the “nadir” of post-emancipation black history, amidst Southern disfranchisement of blacks and terrible waves of racist lynchings, African Americans still possessed far more organizational and political power than blacks in South Africa or, for that matter, coloreds or Indians there.

Under these circumstances a group of failed white disfranchisement activists in Maryland passed the closest equivalent to South Africa’s Native Location Laws in the United States: the Baltimore Segregation Ordinance of 1910. The ordinance divided every street in Baltimore into “white blocks” and “colored blocks” based on the race of the majority of the inhabitants at the time of the ordinance’s passage. It set a penalty of one hundred dollars and up to a year in the Baltimore city jail for anyone who moved to a block set aside for the “opposite race.” The only exception was for black servants who lived in the houses of their white employers. The U.S. version of segregation mania spread from there, as city councils and mayors in dozens of cities in the South and the Midwest passed or considered copy-cat legislation. In 1917, a group of aldermen in Chicago nearly followed suit, but they were too late. In November of that year the otherwise largely white-supremacist Supreme Court passed down its decision in Buchanan v. Warley that declared Baltimore-style laws unconstitutional. Deftly using a property-rights argument, the multiracial team of lawyers from the NAACP had demonstrated just how much power the organized African American community could wield.15

In the absence of state power—and in the face of an unprecedented wave of migration of African Americans from the South to cities in the North, which quickly filled existing black districts and burst their boundaries—American whites in many places turned to their longstanding practice of enforcing neighborhood color lines by mob violence and house bombings. These actions stood in sharp contrast to South Africa, where street riots were rare because whites could more plausibly put their faith in government. During World War I and in the years immediately after, violence spiraled out of control in a wave of race riots across the United States, capped by a bloody week in Chicago in 1919 in which more than thirty-five people were killed, most of them black. An alliance of segregationist urban reformers and real estate agents in that city went back to the drawing board to lay out neighborhood-splitting schemes that operated as far as possible outside the political limelight.16

The Chicago System

The Chicago-based alliance had many leaders, but two stand out: Nathan William MacChesney, lead council of the National Association of Real Estate Boards (NAREB), and the great reform economist Richard T. Ely, founder of the Institute for Research on Land Economics and Public Utilities. In 1925, MacChesney arranged the transfer of Ely’s institute from the University of Wisconsin Madison to the Chicago campus of Northwestern University. Together, they drafted a series of textbooks for real estate agents that consistently taught the racist theory of property values as a scientific fact. From there, they and other Chicago-based realtors and self-described “progressive” intellectuals devised an ingenious and many-headed hydra of a segregation system. One of the system’s set of teeth was provided by the model racial restrictive covenant drawn up by MacChesney. Another consisted of his “Realtor’s Code of Ethics” for the NAREB, which borrowed language from the mission statement of Ely’s institute and made it a badge of professional responsibility for true “realtors” to steer blacks away from white or transitioning neighborhoods. Another was promotion by both of their organizations of a federally coordinated model zoning code that, most importantly, allowed new suburban municipalities to prohibit apartment buildings. The U.S. Supreme Court gave its blessing to such measures in 1926 despite the fact that they were widely seen as (among other things) an effective means to keep black renters out of town.17

The “redlining” policies of the New Deal’s mortgage insurance program constituted the most important “head” of the new hydra. These policies were also the brainchild of economists at Ely’s institute, though the developer and economist Homer Hoyt at the University of Chicago also played an important independent role. Once again they imported British models for long-term mortgages and government subsidies for first-time homebuyers and rearranged them to suit American racial contexts at just about the time that South Africans were doing the very same thing (and in the process putting in place another often overlooked precedent for apartheid). To save defaulting homeowners during the Great Depression, and then to promote home buying as a way out of the crisis, Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt called upon Hoyt and a half-dozen other Chicagoans to staff several federal housing agencies, most notably the New Deal’s Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The real estate appraiser and amateur economist Frederick Babcock left Ely’s institute for the FHA in Washington, where he wrote the agency’s Underwriting Manual, thus using the relatively obscure rule-making power of the FHA to transform the agency’s formally nonracial legal mandate into a discriminatory program. The Manual explicitly called for an expansion of restrictive covenants and directed FHA valuators to avoid insuring mortgages in transitional neighborhoods. Along with HOLC, the FHA drafted the famous red-lining maps, using model surveys originally developed by Ely and Hoyt that highlighted the race and ethnicity of the population as a factor in property values. In neighborhood-by-neighborhood interviews with realtors and mortgage providers nationwide, the agencies documented, among other things, the commonplace acceptance of already existing private practices of racial steering and discriminatory lending. Red areas on the maps, which designated high-risk areas to be avoided by federal insurance, largely coincided with African American neighborhoods, including those whose residents were deemed relatively affluent. The FHA maps and reports effectively gave the federal stamp of approval to private racist practices. Thus, as a HOLC report on Chicago put it—shedding few tears in the process—the government’s main housing agencies helped guarantee that “mortgage lending institutions will continue to withhold mortgage funds at reasonable terms from deteriorating neighborhoods,” especially those inhabited by African Americans.18

Other technically nonracial legislation provided further sets of government-sharpened teeth to the American urban color line, at the same time that the FHA program, combined with a similar initiative at the Veteran’s Administration, went into full effect after World War II. Federally funded “urban renewal” and slum-clearance programs, for example, were placed under the control of local governments and downtown business interests, which prioritized projects that leveled black neighborhoods located near many American downtowns and consigned their former residents into public housing projects largely sited in the heart of what African American activists now pointedly called the “ghetto.” The massive postwar highway building programs added further swaths of destruction, often leveling promising black business districts, to create the right-of-way for superhighway spurs that quickened commutes from the outskirts to downtown. Even so, none of these practices guaranteed fixed color lines like the contemporary Group Areas Act in apartheid South Africa. As the number of African American migrants to cities rose during the 1950s and 1960s, they moved into previously white neighborhoods—expanding the “ghetto” across urban space. Still, the many-headed Chicago system provided all the necessary enabling amenities for whites to flee racially changing urban neighborhoods, purchase mortgages for houses in the wider and more lucrative reaches of the suburbs, and commute back to downtown or to jobs in the rapidly expanding economy of the suburbs themselves. In this way the U.S. policy also fatally linked segregation with both higher black unemployment rates and automobile-driven, gasoline-dependent sprawl.19

Challenges to Segregation

By most measures, the Civil Rights movement in the United States launched the most elaborate of all the world’s assaults on urban residential color lines. At its broadest base, the revolution against urban segregation in the United States was a movement of ordinary, courageous people seeking housing in neighborhoods where they were not welcomed. Tens of thousands of largely anonymous pioneering black home-seekers willingly walked into the teeth of white violence because available housing in black neighborhoods was hard to find, overcrowded, unsanitary, dangerous, and outrageously expensive. Beyond the ever-moving American color line lay ever-elusive spaces of urban opportunity, where better deals on housing also came with higher-quality amenities for the whole family: schools, parks, public health infrastructure, a less polluted environment, transport, and easier access to jobs.

To help these ordinary African Americans, the NAACP opened up a second front of activism within the law: Moorfield Storey’s brilliant maneuvers in Buchanan v. Worley in 1917 against racial zoning ordinances was one legendary victory in the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1948, Thurgood Marshall returned to the Court to defeat racially restrictive covenants in Shelby v. Kramer. Marshall also exposed the FHA’s proprietary Underwriting Manual in 1938, though he had to repeatedly badger a local FHA official from the Long Island suburbs to give him a copy. Now at least partly uncovered, the federal government’s complicity in segregation, along with that of municipal public housing authorities, became the target of yet another tactic: persistent petitions and protests in the name of open housing.20

From the 1940s through the 1960s, open-housing activists put sufficient pressure on state legislatures to pass a raft of fair housing laws that explicitly prohibited racial steering and redlining. Large numbers of liberal white suburban homeowners also entered the fray, some by signing so-called covenants of open occupancy, typically declaring they would “welcome into their neighborhood any residents of good character, regardless of race, color, religion, or national origin.” Others went door to door in efforts to persuade their white neighbors to ignore blockbusting real estate swindlers. Still others joined with blacks to persuade real estate agents and bankers to help keep racially changing liberal neighborhoods—like Chicago’s Oak Park, Cleveland’s Shaker Heights, and Philadelphia’s West Mount Airy—permanently integrated. In 1960, open-housing activists pressured the Democratic Party presidential candidate John F. Kennedy to promise he would end federal housing discrimination “with the stroke of the pen”—a pledge he belatedly fulfilled two years later.21

The next step belonged to Martin Luther King Jr. In 1966, fresh from his historic victories in the South, he plunged straight into the maul of American urban archsegregationism by turning his favorite weapon, Gandhian nonviolent resistance, against the color line in Chicago. From his headquarters in a Black Belt housing project he alternately sent black and white testers to white real estate offices to verify the wide spread of racial steering. Then he deployed pickets outside offending real estate agents’ offices and personally led a wave of mass marches into the surrounding neighborhoods. There, he ran headlong into the white violence that had long sustained American urban color lines. Crowds of white counterdemonstrators shouted racist epithets, brandished swastika flags, and launched volleys of bricks. After a face-saving truce with Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, King left town to nurse his realization that peaceful protest had done little to dislodge divisions deeply rooted in racialized economic interest.

Two years later, King fell to an assassin’s bullet in Memphis. In response, the poorest African American residents of U.S. cities added their own version of mass action to the movement. For five previous “long hot summers,” anger and violence had engulfed places such as Harlem, North Philadelphia, Watts, Newark, and Detroit. This time, in 1968, the fire once again raged in more than one hundred black “ghettos.” As before, the most immediate results were scores of people killed and injured and new swaths of burned-out buildings and businesses. But the din of a hundred riots also gave President Lyndon Johnson the leverage to persuade Senate minority leader Everett Dirksen (R-IL) to release the votes necessary for the open-housing movement’s long-delayed federal Fair Housing Act. Discrimination of all kinds in the housing market was now against the law.22

In the years following this bitterly won victory, the Civil Rights movement championed creative solutions to the problems of the residential color line in an increasingly conservative age. In Chicago, activists filed a lawsuit against segregationist practices in public housing. In Hills v. Gautreaux (1976), they won another landmark victory: the justices ordered the Chicago Housing Authority to offer thousands of housing vouchers to allow poor African American families to relocate to the suburbs. Though their numbers were comparatively small, the families who were selected for the program did demonstrably better than their counterparts in the ghetto. Meanwhile, a movement also gained steam in a handful of cities for inclusionary zoning laws, which typically require new developments to include substantial shares of affordable housing. The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (1976) and the Community Reinvestment Act (1977) were perhaps even more promising. These were federal laws that required private redliners to reveal information about the location of their mortgage lending and to assume an “affirmative obligation” to lend money in all neighborhoods where they took deposits. Meanwhile, other policies, including the federal Community Development Block Grants and the various state-initiated Enterprise Zones, unleashed government funds and tax breaks for the development of neglected areas. Grassroots efforts to channel federal, corporate, and private foundation money into community development corporations (CDCs) or neighborhood-based direct-action organizations have had notable successes across the country.23

How “Color Blind” Politics Rescued Racial Segregation

By 1970, America’s sprawling suburbs had outgrown the cities they surrounded. While suburban areas did began to diversify in terms of class, immigration status, and race, they also remained home to the single largest and most influential uniracial white voting block in the country (and perhaps the world). Forsaking the balder white supremacist rhetoric of Jim Crow, suburban whites voiced their support for longstanding privileges tied to residential segregation by tapping into traditions of camouflaged racial demands that went back to the work of the NAREB and Ely’s institute. Already in the late 1940s, for example, suburbanites outside Atlanta, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Chicago articulated their defense of homogeneous neighborhoods in terms of a defense of property rights and the “civil right” to choose one’s neighbors. Others fought fair housing laws by appealing to the right of free association or the freedom from unwarranted government interference.24

The idea of refashioning white privilege as a defense of rights and liberty proved appealing to politicians such as George Wallace, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan. Such rhetoric allowed leaders to combine promises of support for middle-class white privileges with revived “free-market” attacks on welfare states, labor unions, government regulations, and progressive taxation systems. Meanwhile, a language of racial resentment also lured at least some white working-class voters away from traditional left-leaning parties and toward those favored by their employers.

Several feats of political conjury were involved in these campaigns. One was an insistence upon an upside-down narrative of social history in which the black and brown civil rights revolution and its liberal white allies had succeeded in seizing enormous power—thus transforming white people into the true victims of racial inequality. Accusing civil rights activists of demanding “special rights” for black and brown people, including fair housing enforcement, so-called New Right leaders proposed an attractive-sounding “color-blind” and ostensibly meritocratic society—thus effectively perpetuating segregation and black subordination by denying its existence. While repeatedly disavowing racist intent, New Right leaders could simultaneously channel racial hatred through code words such as “welfare,” “taxes,” “quotas,” “immigrants,” “values,” “social pathology,” “inner cities,” “the underclass,” “ghettos,” and, most of all, “crime.” Three kinds of policy tools helped to drive urban segregation forward and even to give it new forms: authoritarian anticrime and anti-immigration policies disproportionately directed at urban people of color; a willful neglect of fair housing laws that encouraged a variety of segregationist dynamics to persist in land markets; and a campaign to deregulate the financial industry, which gave it an enormous new sway over both global and urban politics.

The New Right’s mania for “tough” criminal justice policies created new possibilities for government coercion in the drawing of color lines. Since the Nixon years, successive “wars” on crime and drugs, waged against largely urban, black, low-level drug dealers, transformed a medium-sized (if already racially unequal) prison system into a massive archipelago of what some sociologists call “carceral ghettos.” Now holding more than 2.3 million people, the majority of them black and brown city dwellers, these prison ghettos have multiplied across the American countryside, festooning the outskirts of hundreds of nearly all-white small towns with watch towers and barbed-wire enclosures. Meanwhile, problems with police misconduct in neighborhoods of color, as revealed by the incidents in the multiracial suburbs of Sanford, Florida, in 2012, and Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, also persist across the United States and in many other Western countries. Instances of police abuse repeatedly provide the trigger for urban rioting.25

Race-tinged authoritarianism has also crept into New Right–era immigration policy. In 1965, the United States repealed racist immigration restrictions. Since the 1980s, federal and state governments have put increasingly militarized influx-control efforts in place and have combined these efforts with massive deportations. In the context of widening desperation in many parts of the global South and increased demand for migrant labor in the global North, such border-interdiction measures do much more than control influxes. They intensify the bureaucratic nightmares involved in acquiring passes and other documentation, promote racial profiling of both legal and illegal migrants, make it more difficult for migrant workers to protest low pay and bad working conditions, encourage criminal enterprises that exploit migrants, increase the numbers of potentially productive people behind bars, and put migrants at greater risk of death crossing oceans and deserts. All of these discriminatory side effects of the ever-more fortress-like “global color line” resonate deeply in the segregated black and brown urban communities of the United States and other Western societies.26

In the “color-blind” era, increased government coercion of people of color is mirrored by the willful retreat of governments from their legal obligations to control segregationist actions by real estate agents, developers, bankers, and privileged white homeowners in the housing market. The racial theory of real estate values is thus left free to continue driving practices of racial steering, redlining, and white flight. Meanwhile, these same real estate market dynamics, helped by big developers and sometimes by governments, have created new forces of coercive segregation, such as gated communities and gentrification. 27

Surveys of white attitudes in the United States show repeatedly that whites are more willing than before to consider black neighbors—as long as they are not too numerous and as long as they meet certain class thresholds. White mob violence against black home-seekers decreased once the postwar black migration to cities ended and reversed after 1970. Indexes of segregation in the United States have declined somewhat since. Immigrants continue to arrive in large numbers despite restrictions, and many settle in and around the moving color line, often creating much more complex borders and even some integrated checkerboard neighborhoods, including some in the suburbs. In some cities, most notably Chicago and Detroit, the number of people impacted by extreme segregation may be diminishing simply because thousands of ghetto residents have reversed the Great Migration by moving to the comparatively less segregated cities of the U.S. South. Despite all of these changes, though, segregation measures remain extremely high, especially in the largest cities. In Chicago almost 80 percent of the population would still have to move for all of the city’s neighborhoods to have the same racial composition (down from about 90 percent in 1960). Ghetto neighborhoods have always been segregated internally by class, but rates of spatial concentration of poor black people have risen in many cities, including Chicago. Blacks who move to the suburbs are still largely steered to older, inner-ring, “hand-me-down” municipalities with declining property values. White flight from those areas continues, if now financed by whites’ generally higher personal wealth more than by federal subsidies. In many suburban rings, racial segregation indexes are higher than in neighboring cities. Meanwhile, some of the outright aggression of whites toward unwanted outsiders and their fear of crime have been rechanneled into the fortified gated communities that private developers began scattering across the suburbs of Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and New York after 1970.28

Gentrification is another potentially coercive form of market-based segregation that has increased after 1970. In the global North it usually involves well-to-do and often younger people buying up promising old real estate in poorer neighborhoods near downtown that seem more sophisticated, “edgier,” or simply more convenient to work and play. When gentrification gains momentum, it can work like a market-driven form of slum clearance. Renovations push up property values and taxes, forcing poorer residents nearby to relocate elsewhere. Gentrifiers, like the worst of government slum-clearance programs, are under no obligation to provide affordable rehousing. The government plays a role as well. Local housing authorities’ ever more zealous efforts to raze long-neglected public housing projects have in some cases had the effect of opening new areas for gentrification; in any case, the decline of American public housing in general gives poor people fewer anchors of affordable housing that would otherwise allow them to remain in gentrifying districts. Other urban authorities organize “business improvement districts” that offer special services to elite downtown residents. District officials sometimes replicate the fortified feel of suburban gated communities by hiring private security patrols, authorizing periodic roundups of homeless people, and installing bristling networks of surveillance cameras.29

Persistent segregation at once reflects and encourages the sharply increasing economic inequalities that are a hallmark of the supposed era of color blindness. One of the most important causes of this increasing inequality was the free-market-driven deregulation of finance. For people of color in American cities, the deregulation of the global economy went hand in hand with the New Right’s neglect of fair-housing enforcement to create new disadvantages in segregated land markets and thus new obstacles to accruing wealth. Surveys of mortgage lending repeatedly demonstrate tremendous disparities in the willingness of banks to lend to whites and blacks all along the spectra of income and education—even as New Right politicians and Wall Street lobby strongly to weaken the anti-redlining Community Reinvestment Act.

Paradoxically, though, big finance’s practice of “reverse redlining”–—selective targeting of poor people and ghetto residents with predatory loans—sowed almost as much destruction as redlining itself. This practice, just as paradoxically, first became widespread in the United States precisely because of legislation accompanying the 1968 Fair Housing Act. That legislation directed the FHA to guarantee mortgages in areas it had previously redlined. Unscrupulous realtors, appraisers, and mortgage lenders took advantage of the new mandate by colluding in schemes to overassess the value of structurally unsound houses, then sell them fraudulently to desperate ghetto residents with financing fully ensured by the U.S. Treasury. Once the new homeowners ran into insurmountable repair and repayment problems, the predatory sting drew quickly to a close: the banks recouped the unpaid loan from the FHA and walked away, leaving it up to the federal government to bulldoze the house. This explains why large tracts of the South Side of Chicago and other “rust belt” ghettos first acquired their contemporary bombed-out look, with scores of spectral, abandoned houses dotting large swaths of vacant land that is now returning to its former state of open prairie.30

The most devastating of all of the regulatory concessions to big finance occurred in 1998 when U.S. president Bill Clinton joined conservative congressmen in support of legislation allowing high-risk investment banks to enter the housing finance business. Wall Street money artists quickly devised or expanded three types of speculative financial instruments: predatory “subprime” loans to poor people; mortgage-backed securities consisting of predatory loans bundled with other loans and re-sliced into highly lucrative “tranches”; and so-called credit default swaps meant to insure the mortgage-backed securities. The market success of these “designer” assets pushed piratical mortgage companies, some of them subsidiaries of big banks, to lure ever-larger numbers of poor people into mortgages. The loans they peddled, again often using grossly fraudulent practices, virtually guaranteed default. Most contained “adjustable” interest rates that soon increased the size of monthly payments beyond most borrowers’ means.

Across the United States, black people were more than twice as likely as white people of the same income—and over three times as likely in Chicago—to be steered into subprime loans, even though two-thirds were eligible for standard mortgages that on average cost $100,000 less over the life of the loan. Racial segregation, noted the sociologists Jacob S. Rugh and Douglas S. Massey, “created a unique niche of minority clients who were differentially marketed risky subprime loans.” The resulting racial disparities in housing foreclosures widened the large inequalities in wealth on either side of the American color line. After 2000, Barack Obama parlayed his career as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side to become an Illinois state senator, then a U.S. senator, then the country’s first black president, inaugurating renewed talk of a “post-racial age.” In 2008, as the American mortgage bubble burst, bringing on a global recession, U.S. whites possessed a staggering ten times more wealth on average than blacks of equal income, largely because of segregation in the American housing market. Four years later, as Obama finished his first term, the black-white wealth gap had doubled to twenty to one.31

In these many ways, American segregationists have kept their creation alive, letting new heads grow on the monster as others get chopped off. No law forbids white flight or the often equally segregationist undertow of gentrification. No legislation can outlaw the idea that black neighbors bring white people’s property values down. Such racially inflected dynamics in the private housing market—coupled with ongoing steering, redlining, and devastating bouts of discriminatory predatory lending—continue to quietly guarantee unequal and separate racial spaces in American cities to our day. So quietly does segregation work that many Americans are tempted to think of it as a “de facto” phenomenon. It just is—it was never made, let alone planned. Thus the jagged color lines that run right through most American cities seem to fade out of our collective consciousness, never coming close to the top of the country’s or the world’s political priorities. In this way American-style segregation has outlived its archsegregationist cousin, South African apartheid, whose reliance on explicit state action ultimately rendered it more vulnerable to local and global anti-segregationist forces. 32

A Bittersweet Paradox

Segregationists continue to occupy the commanding heights of urban spatial politics not only in the United States, but also many other societies the world over. The exact nature of urban dividing lines has been blurred. Race, class, ethnicity, culture, and (most toxically) religion all play interconnected roles, depending on the place. With some notorious exceptions, explicitly segregationist government legislation is no longer the principal coercive force behind the sundering of cities. Instead, most city-dividers today use tools that resemble those at work in the many-headed system of the United States. Far from “informal” or “voluntary” (let alone “de facto”), such tools, embedded above all in the real estate and financial industries, pack plenty of coercive institutional force. They also benefit from an aura of plausible deniability that probably even more crucially explains their political longevity.

That said, there is a final, bittersweet paradox to the global history of urban segregation. As powerful as these forces are, our age is also blessed with more knowledge about the devastating effects of segregation than any other era in human history. We also have more knowledge than ever about ways to create open, egalitarian, and empowering urban spaces and communities. This knowledge had been put into action in many places: in the scrappy anti-segregationist grassroots community organizations of the United States, which seek to redirect whatever capital flows they can toward impoverished neighborhoods; in the French “anti-ghetto” laws, which mandate that 20 percent of the housing stock of all towns be owned by the public; in the shanty-and-shack-dwellers associations of the global South, which mobilize to take control over World Bank and NGO policies; and in the vibrant interchanges of the UN Global Urban Forum. In all of these places can be found conversations all city-lovers and city-planners should listen to carefully. Only by helping to elaborate such visions can we wean ourselves from our seventy-century-old habit of dividing—and impoverishing—our species’ most promising form of habitat.33

Discussion of the Literature

Racial segregation in the United States has long been a central topic in the fields of urban sociology and urban history. Sociologists have given much energy to measuring and modeling “processes” of segregation, and we are indebted to them for multiple indices that give varying perspectives on the spatial of segregationist practices on the ground. The classic work is by Douglas Massey and Nancy A. Denton.34 They have also extensively documented the consequences of segregation.35

Urban historians have focused their energies on the politics, policies, and practices that bring segregation into being, both in classical national level studies36 and in dozens of local studies.37 Another recent historiographical breakthrough centers on “metropolitan” approaches to segregation that trace the connection between the politics of the inner city and the suburbs.38 Segregation has also long been a central theme in the history of South Africa and of colonial cities.39

Primary Sources

The famous “redlining” maps generated by the HOLC’s city surveys can be found in the City Survey file (CSF), record group 195 (Federal Home Loan Bank Board), National Archives II, in College Park, Maryland. Note that these files also contain extensive, valuable, and damning documentation about the ways these surveys were conducted and the people involved. The Area Description forms contain enormous reams of information about how some of the city’s elites perceived the city’s neighborhoods and the people who lived in them. The reports show repeatedly that the valuators knew full well what the consequences of their actions would be. Some of these maps and documents are available online, notably those for a half dozen cities in California and North Carolina that have been digitally archived at the T-RACES website (see visual materials, above).

Copies of Fredrick Babcock’s FHA Underwriting Manual can be found in many university libraries.

The papers of Richard T. Ely’s Institute for Land Economics and Public Utilities and his vast personal papers, all of which shed light on his activities during the 1920s in Chicago, can be found at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison.

Documentation about the Baltimore West Segregation Ordinance and its influence on lawmakers elsewhere in the United States can be found at the Baltimore City Archives, most notably in the mayoral files of J. Barry Mahool and James Preston. Leads to other sources can be found in, among other places, Carl H. Nightingale, “The Transnational Contexts of Early-Twentieth-Century American Urban Segregationism,” Journal of Social History 39 (Spring 2006): 668–702.

The Texts of the Supreme Court’s opinions in Buchanan v. Warley, Shelby v. Kramer, and Hills v. Gautreaux can all be found by searches under the parties names.

Links to Digital and Visual Materials

Further Reading

Boyle, Kevin. Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age. New York: Henry Holt, 2004.Find this resource:

Freund, David M. P. Colored Property: State Policy and White Racial Politics in Suburban America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Hirsch, Arnold R. Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940–1960. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1983.Find this resource:

Jackson, Kenneth. Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.Find this resource:

Katz, Alyssa. Our Lot: How Real Estate Came to Own Us. New York: Bloomsbury, 2009. See pp. 1–26.Find this resource:

Katz, Michael B. Why Don’t American Cities Burn? Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Kruse, Kevin. White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Kusmer, Kenneth. A Ghetto Takes Shape: Black Cleveland, 1870–1930. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1976.Find this resource:

Lassiter, Matthew. The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.Find this resource:

Light, Jennifer. “Nationality and Neighborhood Risk at the Origins of the FHA Underwriting.” Journal of Urban History 36 (2010): 634–653.Find this resource:

Logan, John R., and Brian Stults. “Separate and Unequal: The Neighborhood Gap for Blacks, Hispanics and Asians in Metropolitan America.” Report on urban segregation based on the 2010 U.S. Census. Available at http://www.s4.brown.edu/us2010/projects/authors_su.htm (accessed October 7, 2014).

Massey, Douglas, and Nancy A. Denton. American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993.Find this resource:

National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (NCFHEO). Report: The Future of Fair Housing. Washington, DC: NCFHEO, 2008.Find this resource:

Nicolaides, Becky M. My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920–1965. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.Find this resource:

Nightingale, Carl H. Segregation: A Global History of Divided Cities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.Find this resource:

Oliver, Melvin, and Thomas M. Shapiro. White Wealth/Black Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality. New York: Routledge, 2006.Find this resource:

Sampson, Robert J. Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.Find this resource:

Satter, Beryl. Family Properties: How the Struggle over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America. New York: Picador, 2010.Find this resource:

Schneider, Eric. Smack: Heroin and the American City. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.Find this resource:

Self, Robert O. American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Silverman, Robert Mark, and Kelly L. Patterson. “The Four Horsemen of the Fair Housing Apocalypse: A Critique of Fair Housing Policy in the USA.” Critical Sociology 38.1 (2012): 123–140.Find this resource:

Squires, Gregory D., ed. From Redlining to Reinvestment: Community Responses to Urban Disinvestment. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.Find this resource:

Stanger-Ross, Jordan. Staying Italian: Urban Change and Ethnic Life in Postwar Toronto and Philadelphia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.Find this resource:

Sugrue, Thomas J. Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.Find this resource:

Sugrue, Thomas J. Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North. New York: Random House, 2008.Find this resource:

Taub, Jennifer. Other People’s Houses: How Decades of Bailouts, Captive Regulators, and Toxic Bankers Made Home Mortgages a Thrilling Business. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Wiese, Andrew. Places of Their Own: African American Suburbanization in the Twentieth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.Find this resource:


(1.) For segregation indexes in the 1950s and 1960s, and comparisons with contemporary South African cities, see Karl E. Taeuber and Alma F. Taeuber, Negroes in Cities: Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Change (Chicago: Aldine, 1965), 39–40; Anthony Lemon, “The Apartheid City,” in Homes Apart: South Africa’s Segregated Cities, edited by Anthony Lemon (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), 8, 13; A. J. Christopher, “Port Elizabeth,” in Lemon, Homes Apart, 51; R. J. Davies, “Durban,” in Lemon, Homes Apart, 79, 82. For present-day research, the best place to begin is John R. Logan and Brian Stults, “Separate and Unequal: The Neighborhood Gap for Blacks, Hispanics and Asians in Metropolitan America,” report on urban segregation based on the 2010 U.S. Census, at http://www.s4.brown.edu/us2010/projects/authors_su.htm (accessed October 7, 2014).

(2.) National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (NCFHEO), Report: The Future of Fair Housing (Washington DC: NCFHEO, 2008), 13.

(3.) Ceri Peach, “Good Segregation, Bad Segregation,” Planning Perspectives 11 (1996): 379–398; Carl H. Nightingale, “Is There Such a Thing as Voluntary Segregation?” Also, David Roediger, Working Towards Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White (New York: Basic Books, 2005). Jordan Stanger-Ross gives an example of how Italians did use the practices of local real estate agents to keep the Italian neighborhood in South Philadelphia relatively exclusive. In Toronto, Italians did no such thing, however. More of this kind of research will be helpful in determining whether, as I suspect, the Philadelphia example is an exception that proves the rule. See Jordan Stanger-Ross, Staying Italian: Urban Change and Ethnic Life in Postwar Toronto and Philadelphia (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 33–58.

(4.) Melvin Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro, White Wealth/Black Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality (New York: Routledge, 2006); Robert J. Sampson, Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012); Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: New Press, 2010); Eric Schneider, Smack: Heroin and the American City (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008); Food and Nutrition Board, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice, Institute of Medicine, National Research Council, The Public Health Effects of Food Deserts: Workshop Summary (Washington, DC: Academies Press, 2009); Luke W. Cole and Sheila R. Foster, From the Ground Up; Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement (New York: New York University Press, 2001).

(5.) Carl H. Nightingale, Segregation: A Global History of Divided Cities (Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 2012), 19–45.

(6.) Nightingale, Segregation, 12.

(7.) Nightingale, Segregation, 4–8.

(8.) Nightingale, Segregation, 47–134.

(9.) Nightingale, Segregation, 135–158.

(10.) Nightingale, Segregation, 159–192.

(11.) Nightingale, Segregation, 193–226.

(12.) Nightingale, Segregation, 262, 275–284, 300–317.

(13.) Nightingale, Segregation, 379–380.

(14.) Nightingale, Segregation, 264, 290–294; 358–380.

(15.) Nightingale, Segregation, 295–307.

(16.) Nightingale, Segregation, 307–317.

(17.) Nightingale, Segregation, 317–331. David M. P. Freund, Colored Property: State Policy and White Racial Politics in Suburban America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).

(18.) Nightingale, Segregation, 341–349. Quotation from Federal Home Loan Bank Board, “Metropolitan Chicago: Summary of Economic, Real Estate, and Mortgage Finance Survey” (1940), City Survey File, Box 84, Record Group 195, National Archives II, College Park, Maryland, 15.

(19.) Nightingale, Segregation, 349–358. Arnold R. Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940–1960 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1983); Mark A. Rose and Raymond A. Mohl, Interstate: Highway Politics and Policy since 1939 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2012).

(20.) “Reveal Rigid Policy of Segregation at FHA,” New York Amsterdam News, December 31, 1938.

(21.) Thomas J. Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North (New York: Random House, 2008), 200–250.

(22.) Sugrue, Sweet Land, 400–448.

(23.) Nightingale, Segregation, 387–389; Sugrue, Sweet Land, 433–444; Alexander Polikoff, Waiting for Gautreaux: A Story of Segregation, Housing, and the Black Ghetto (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2006); Mary Patillo, Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 181–258; Gregory D. Squires, ed., From Redlining to Reinvestment: Community Responses to Urban Disinvestment (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992), 1–37.

(24.) Becky M. Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920–1965 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 120–182; Robert O. Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003), 256–290; Matthew Lassiter, The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006), 1–20, 69–93, 148–174; Kevin Kruse, White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism, 3–18, 78–104, 161–179 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007).

(25.) Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: New Press, 2010); Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007); Loïc Wacquant, Deadly Symbiosis: Race and the Rise of the Penal State (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008); Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (London: Verso, 1990).

(26.) Joseph Nevins, Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary (New York: Routledge, 2002).

(27.) National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (NCFHEO), Report: The Future of Fair Housing (Washington DC: NCFHEO, 2008), 13; Robert Mark Silverman and Kelly L. Patterson, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: A Critique of Fair Housing Policy in the USA,” Critical Sociology (2011): 1–18.

(28.) Logan and Stults, “Separate and Unequal”; Edward J. Blakeley and Mary Gail Snyder, Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1997); Setha Low, “How Private Interests Take over Public Space: Zoning, Taxes, and Incorporation of Gated Communities,” in The Politics of Urban Space, edited by Setha Low and Neil Smith (New York: Routledge, 2006), 81–104.

(29.) Neil Smith, The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City (London: Routledge, 1996); Chris Mele, Selling the Lower East Side (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000).

(30.) Alyssa Katz, Our Lot: How Real Estate Came to Own Us (New York: Bloomsbury, 2009), 1–26; Jill Quadagno, The Color of Welfare: How Racism Undermined the War on Poverty (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 89–116; Simon Johnson and James Kwak, 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown (New York: Pantheon, 2010), 120–153; Jennifer Taub, Other People’s Houses: How Decades of Bailouts, Captive Regulators, and Toxic Bankers Made Home Mortgages a Thrilling Business (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014).

(31.) Jacob S. Rugh and Douglas S. Massey, “Racial Segregation and the American Foreclosure Crisis,” American Sociological Review 75 (2010): 629–651, quotation from p. 629.

(32.) Nightingale, Segregation, 394–402.

(33.) Nightingale, Segregation, 421–430.

(34.) Douglas Massey and Nancy A. Denton, American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993).

(35.) Melvin Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro, White Wealth/Black Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Equality (New York: Routledge, 2006); Robert J. Sampson, Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012).

(36.) Kenneth Jackson, Crabgrass Frontiers: The Suburbanization of the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985); David M. P. Freund, Colored Property: State Policy and White Racial Politics in Suburban America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).

(37.) Kenneth Kusmer, A Ghetto Takes Shape: Black Cleveland, 1870–1930 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1976); Arnold Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940–1960 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1983); Thomas Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (New York: Random House, 2008).

(38.) Robert O. Self, American Babylon: Race and Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003).

(39.) These literatures in combination with American materials in comparative and world historical contexts are addressed in Carl H. Nightingale, A Global History of Divided Cities (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012).