August 31, 2011

Oak Park v. Austin

In response to my review of Bruce Norris's outstanding Chicago real estate play, Clybourne Park, James Kabala asks a good question:
What if, when the first middle-class black family or two had moved into Austin, NO ONE had panicked and sold. Wouldn't that have kept the neighborhood safe? An underclass family can't buy a house if the house isn't for sale! It seems as if the neighbors Steve commends as more practical/realistic/conservative were actually selling out the neighborhood both literally and metaphorically. If they had stayed put, there would have been no houses for anyone (white or black, middle-class or underclass, law-abiding or criminal) to buy, and the original families could have lived there indefinitely.

Norris touches upon this issue in Clybourne Park. The white family that sells out in 1959 to Lorraine Raisin in the Sun Hansberry's family has a personal reason to be alienated from their neighbors. Also, their real estate agent doesn't have a problem with it.  

The response suggested by James was the response of my in-laws in 1967 in the Austin neighborhood of the West Side of Chicago. They joined a liberal Catholic homeowners group founded by a priest whom my father-in-law knew from classical music circles. This priest had composed two operas about Chicago politics with librettos by Father Andrew Greeley. I had a long discussion with him about this at my father-in-laws' wake. 

All the members pledged to each other not to sell out. 

This failed disastrously in Austin. My in-laws held out for three years, long after most of the members had bailed out. But after their small children had been mugged three times, they finally got out. 

The role of real estate agents should be noted: real estate agents tend to specialize in one or two neighborhoods. When prices are going up, they tend to play a constructive role. For example, in our North Lakefront neighborhood in the 1990s, the local real estate agent organized many of the parties. But, if prices are going down, real estate agents can switch to trying to cash in quick by stampeding locals into panic selling. It's an eat-the-seed-corn strategy, but egging on massive turnover can make economic sense to real estate agents (including to the agents of the middle class black families) that were the first to move in. 

On the other hand, as the priest pointed out to me, a similar strategy saved Oak Park (where my father was born in 1917), just west of Austin. My father and I went to see Oak Park in 1982, which he hadn't seen since 1929. Having just read Theodore White's dismal account to visiting his old neighborhood in Boston, I expected it to be a horrible experience. Instead, Oak Park turned out to be full of architecture fans touring the lovely Frank Lloyd Wright neighborhood where my father had grown up. 

The differences between Austin and Oak Park were that Oak Park had the most historically significant domestic architecture in America. It was worth fighting to save. In contrast, while segregated Austin was a terrific place for a modest income family to raise a bunch of kids in the early 1960s -- the population density during the Baby Boom was so high that kids just played on the sidewalks in huge groups, with lots of adults around to keep an eye on them, and little girls walked to school -- there was nothing special about it. It was just a bunch of two and three flats. There were a million neighborhoods like this in Chicago.

People like Matthew Yglesias who are into urbanism, public transportation, and high density should study the destruction of working class urban neighborhoods in Chicago by integration. 

The other big difference was that the conspiracy in Oak Park went all the way to the top. Real estate agents were pressured into imposing "a black a block' quota of only selling to one black family per block. That was totally illegal after the 1968 Fair Housing Act, but, apparently, it was considered in such a good cause -- preserving the home of Prairie Style Architecture -- that everybody winked at it. (I compared Austin to Oak Park in more detail here.)

The general lesson from the differing fates of next-door neighbors Austin and Oak Park, as far as I can tell, is that, all things considered, it's better to live in a neighborhood full of architectural treasures inhabited by affluent and powerful people than in a neighborhood full of average buildings inhabited by average people.

There's no end to the way that nice things are nicer than not nice things.

71 comments:

stari_momak said...

Interesting post to me, mainly because while working on a project at a uni library, I chanced upon the old reserves of the journal America -- the Jesuit journal. And I swear, just browsing like my ADHD self is inclined to do, I came across an article by one Andrew Greeley about 'blockbuster', from the late sixties that was incredibly frank -- including about the ethnoreligious ID of the real estate agents involved. The article is out there -- but I haven't had time to locate it again.

Second story -- about some white ethnics I know in an Old mid-West city. Actually, they are two distinct ethnic groups, but hail from sort of the same area. Anyway, as of the early 2000s there was still enough solidarity that they maintained their neighborhood -- and Island surrounded. They did so by only advertising houses for sale in there respective ethnic presses.

Simon in London said...

I'd like to understand more about the mechanisms of the transition from "middle class families are buying here" to "hellhole full of underclass blacks". Underclass blacks don't have money to buy houses, so presumably they are State-funded? Were the first blacks to move in really middle-class?

Anonymous said...

Hmm, whites eagerly selling out other whites, sounds absurd!

BTW, glad to see VDare and Gerry McGeough have the same web designer.

Christopher Paul said...

It must have helped that Oak Park was its own municipality and not yoked to the city of Chicago the way Austin was.

Anonymous said...

'... Nice things are nicer than nasty things', Steve.

Gilbert P.

josh said...

The conspiracy in Austin went all the way to the top, just in the opposite direction. You should look into the connection between real estate agents, the Ford Foundation, and AFSC.

josh said...

http://www.uic.edu/depts/lib/specialcoll/services/rjd/findingaids/NSSPf.html

ho hum.

Anonymous said...

"What if, ... , NO ONE had panicked and ... ran for his life."

What made the hellenistic phalanx possible, and what made it so dominant on many, but not every, battlefield?

dearieme said...

He who panics first panics best.

rightsaidfred said...

segregated Austin was a terrific place for a modest income family to raise a bunch of kids in the early 1960s -- the population density during the Baby Boom was so high that kids just played on the sidewalks in huge groups, with lots of adults around to keep an eye on them, and little girls walked to school

Wow. It is so sad to lose such, both the demographic robustness and the community spirit.

Lorraine Raisin in the Sun Hansberry's family has a personal reason to be alienated from their neighbors.

Let us also note well that integration did not bring us more wealth or gentler communities. It came down as a way for one group of Whites to screw another.

Big Bill said...

Classic game theory: the Prisoners Dilemma with 1000 Austin homeowners as players.

Frances said...

The southwest side of Chicago is a similar example. In the 60s and 70s, large areas of the near SW side changed from white to black very quickly. The housing was modest at best. The Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood, however, use methods as Oak Park did, and became stabilized. The homes in parts of that neighborhood are the the nicest in the city, and survived.

Dahlia said...

"...my in-laws in 1967 in the Austin neighborhood of the West Side of Chicago...joined a liberal Catholic homeowners group founded by a priest whom my father-in-law knew from classical music circles. This priest had composed two operas about Chicago politics with librettos by Father Andrew Greeley."

Jesuits! Really, Steven, really?! The liberal attitudes make sense now. This is what happens when you marry outside the Faith!

James Kabala said...

Just to clarify: I realize that some turnover is inevitable - kids move out and the parents feel the house is too large for an empty nest; parents who do stay into old age die and their heirs have no interest in keeping the property; etc. But it seems (and this applies just as much in reverse today to gentrification) that drastic changes in the ethnic or socioeconomic makeup of neighborhood cannot happen unless there is already a culture of constant buying and selling and moving in and moving out. If stability is the ideal instead, any drastic changes would happen slowly. "This neighborhood is doomed - and I'll be the first to go!" becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Even in Steve's account, he jumps from solidarity to mugging without clarifying the in-between events - clearly someone broke that solidarity long before the muggings occurred, or the muggers could not have moved in.)

stari_momak said...

blockbuster --> blockbusting

Anonymous said...

The big reason that maintaining solidarity when the first middle class blacks move in is regression to the mean.

The parents might be fine, and upstanding and just dying to act all white, and such (even if they are affirmative action recipients), however, their offspring are going to regress to the mean, and will be the muggers in the neighborhood.

James Kabala said...

P.S. It seems that no one on the Internet except you has ever used "black a block" in connection with Oak Park. Clearly it was a well-concealed strategy! (Google turned up this article, but from a quick skim and use of the Find button, it seems to have been a false alarm: http://astro.temple.edu/~ruby/opp/3qrpt02/finalversion.pdf)

James Kabala said...

I should have done more research before I posted: I didn't realize the "neighborhood" of Austin had a population of almost 120,000 people! (Today - doubtless smaller but still large in 1970.) Obviously my remarks can only really apply to a much smaller neighborhood.

Dahinda said...

Parts of Austin were full of large, architectually signifigant homes and Oak Park has parts that are just two and three flats. Oak Park just did a better job of integrating the neighborhood. They could have taken a different course like the one taken in neighboring Cicero. Cicero stayed an all white neighborhood until recently by threatening the lives of any black people who entered the town!

Second City Refugee said...

The collapse of Austin wasn't one of these boiled frog events. It was like a bank run. In 1960 Austin was virtually 100% white. In 1965-66 MLK decided to bring the civil rights movement north, and picked the Chicago West Side as his first Northern target. He teamed with Jesse Jackson and conducted marches and political activity targeting the West Side. Escalating violence occurred on both sides. Whites were throwing bottles at MLK. Gangs of blacks were beating up white kids. Then in 1966 there were black and Puerto Rican riots in places like Austin, Humboldt Park, etc. These events chased away the more future-oriented and less committed white residents. After the MLK assassination in 1968, all hell broke loose on the West Side. The Black Panthers led an insurgency that resulted in a lot of death and destruction on the West Side. That was the last straw for most whites and there was a mass exodus for suburbs like Lombard and Downers Grove. It was like a bank run after 1968 with unscrupulous "block busting" realtors fanning the flames, so the speak. Only the "dead-enders" remained. Plunging real estate prices in Austin provided the opportunity for slum lords to buy up the housing stock for cheap rentals. The neighborhood was dead, and like Generalissimo Franco it still is.

Heliogabalus said...

The moral I guess is simply have something that must be defended. This can be architecture, but can also be a high-class university (in Hyde Park or Evanston) or a huge concentration of business, entertainment and investment (downtown, Near North). This also suggests that a lot of fashionable yuppie hoods could turn bad quickly, since they often lack these kind of anchors.

carol said...

Underclass blacks don't have money to buy houses, so presumably they are State-funded?

Don't know about Austin, but if someone can't sell a house (because the nabe is going bad), and rents it out instead, couldn't some get in through Section 8? this is happening right now.

More recently, anyone could get a mortgage.

Anonymous said...

E. Michael Jones argues for the conspiracy theory also, he just argues that the point was destroying the power of the Catholic vote.

http://www.amazon.com/Slaughter-Cities-Renewal-Ethnic-Cleansing/dp/1587317753

Kylie said...

"I'd like to understand more about the mechanisms of the transition from
'middle class families are buying here' to 'hellhole full of underclass blacks'."


Here in the States, when we use "middle-class" in this context, we mean respectable working-class--people who don't have much but do work hard, keep up their property, stay out of trouble, etc. (Like the Gibbons in This Happy Breed, except home-owners, not renters.) As Steve says, the houses such people own are, like their incomes, respectable but quite modest.

Not far from us is a street with two black families on it. You can tell just by looking at the yards which two properties they occupy. I know of no legal trouble these families have been in, it's not a question of violent crime or loud parties. But in a block of well-kept, though modest houses, these are the two that have weeds standing in the yard, toys and household items laying around, a parked car on the lawn even though there's a driveway--all visible from the street. That alone is enough to discourage good home-owners from buying and to encourage more riffraff.

One fall, we moved to an area that had two streets of identical small houses one block apart. One street was tidy, the other messy. I couldn't understand it. All winter I puzzled over it as we'd pass those two streets, so alike yet so different. Come spring, the puzzle was solved. The tidy street filled up with white people, the messy street with blacks.

Underclass blacks don't have money to buy houses, so presumably they are State-funded?"

That was what that whole housing market collapse was about. George Bush said there was a "homeownership gap" and oversaw the abandoning of standards in loan applications.

Were the first blacks to move in really middle-class?

Again, middle-class here doesn't mean quite what it does over there, I think "working-class" or "lower middle-class" would be more accurate. And even more confusingly, being middle-class in the States has different meanings, depending on whether or not the people are black or white. For blacks, it's mainly an economic term; for whites, it's also cultural. Thus the two streets I saw. Both were full of lower-middle-class homeowners. Yet one streets was presentable if modest, the other was obviously in decline.

NLF said...

"They joined a liberal Catholic homeowners group founded by a priest whom my father-in-law knew from classical music circles. This priest had composed two operas about Chicago politics with librettos by Father Andrew Greeley. I had a long discussion with him about this at my father-in-laws' wake. All the members pledged to each other not to sell out."

The irony of this 'liberal' group is amazing. On the face of it, I suppose they were being 'liberal' in accepting a black resident in the neighborhood. But their main reason for not 'selling out' was to prevent MORE blacks from coming.
It's a kind of win-win. Let a few 'clean cut' token Negroes in to boost the community's 'liberal' credentials. But also unite and work together to keep most other blacks out.

NLF said...

In other words... liberals are smarter 'racists'.

regular joe said...

a simpler reply to that guys' suggestion: Tragedy of the Commons or Prisoner's Dilemma

Its in each individual family's self interest to partake of the commonly owned good 'neighborhood location real estate prices' at the expense of others, ala T of C. That common good expires if anyone breaks the trust, ala the prisoner's dilemma not to break Omerta and rat to the cops, but here its to sell out.

As with both classic tragedies/ dilemmas, though the proposed solutions sound nice in children's stories (everyone just uses their fair share of the commons, everyone keeps their honor code of silence), game theory and human nature show that BOOM, desitned to fail in most cases, so last to sell/ get theirs is a sucker.

europeasant said...

Block clubs were formed in Chicago to stop unscrupulous real estate agents from block busting.High turnover is an agents moneymaker.The idea of a block and block party was to get to know your neighborhood's residents.If you talked amongst each other,you would less likely get panicked with real estate agents lies.
There is still turnover but at a much slower pace,thank goodness.The diversity and vibrancy is being distributed to the suburbs except of course to high end areas,where housing prices are way to high and there are few apartments available.
Gangsta culture has been shown to thrive even in single family housing,low density areas but for that reason is not as highly concentrated.
Having plentiful low IQ labor jobs would alleviate gangsta culture somewhat but it does not look like that's going to happen anytime soon,if ever.Looks like our best bet is to run for the hills but there are only so many hills.I have not run for the hills but all of my relatives and in-laws have left.Some admit to a problem but others claim they love everyone and are not racist but nonetheless send their children to towns with overwhelmingly large white populations.

Anonymous said...


The general lesson from the differing fates of next-door neighbors Austin and Oak Park, as far as I can tell, is that, all things considered, it's better to live in a neighborhood full of architectural treasures inhabited by affluent and powerful people than in a neighborhood full of average buildings inhabited by average people.


The reason for this is the same as the reason that Chinese mothers (and some fathers) put such pressure on their kids:

The kids are less likely to go off the rails if they are surrounded by signs of success and the results of hard work. That is, those with more of a genetic inclination to be slackers can be forced to be less slack. (cf social pressure on gay offspring to provide their parents with grandchildren.)

Marc B said...

"What if, when the first middle-class black family or two had moved into Austin, NO ONE had panicked and sold."

Because there is hardly any unity among whites compared to almost every other race, and it's been every man for himself for most of our country's history. That is one of downsides of being the dominant race, particularly when the US was at 1970 demographic levels. You could not trust your neighbor to do the right thing because he didn't trust you to do anything other than cover your own ass. Now there are fewer and fewer places left to go to get away from "them", and whites will have no choice but group solidarity.

Veracitor said...

Don't overlook the fact that black American families more easily wobble between "middle class" and "underclass" than white families do, so today's "middle-class" black homebuyers often transmogrify in place to the underclass black neighbors of ten years from now.

Academically/economically successful young black men and women (say IQ 100-115) (used to?) marry and found "black middle-class" families. Those happy black couples have money to buy "middle class homes" and naturally try to do so as soon as their first baby is on the way.

When their kids reach middle-school age, though, it becomes apparent to all that reversion toward the mean has given those middle-class parents a majority of underclass children (IQ 85-100). Of course, a few of the kids are as bright as their parents, but the majority who aren't soon realize they have more fun and more chance to gain status in a street gang-- or as the mother of a welfare-anchor baby-- than in high school. The middle-class black household rapidly degenerates into an underclass one.

The neighbors suffer as the gangster children of the "middle-class" black neighbors burglarize white homes and mug white passers-by, while their parents dissipate their savings on bail bonds and lawyers' bills. They'll stop painting their house or planting fresh bulbs every year. The black middle-class mother will end up Prozacked and apathetic while the black middle-class father will self-medicate with alcohol. Neither will discover any way to "rescue" their children from the only lives for which they are fit in modern society.

Even when their kids don't drag them down, middle-class blacks have a more tenuous hold on their socio-economic status. They're less likely (than whites or asians) to have middle-class relatives to help them out in times of difficulty; more likely to be asked to post bail for an underclass relative-- and lose that money when he skips out; more likely to be forced out of a job by diabetes or arthritis; more likely to fall for some gypsy driveway-sealing con; etc-etc.

Anonymous said...

"I'd like to understand more about the mechanisms of the transition from "middle class families are buying here" to "hellhole full of underclass blacks". Underclass blacks don't have money to buy houses, so presumably they are State-funded? Were the first blacks to move in really middle-class?"

Sure the first blacks were, but perhaps they extended help to another family member. likewise regression to mean could explain it. A better question to ask is why weren't there any middle class black neighborhoods that existed on their own? They've got an even tougher prisoners dilemma than we do.

"Classic game theory: the Prisoners Dilemma with 1000 Austin homeowners as players."

Eventually though we see iterated prisoners dilemma produce gentrified neighborhoods.

poolside said...

I know people who pledged to "stay true" to their Houston neighborhoods but every one of them eventually gave up when the crime and disorder got to bad.

In my current suburb, the Asians are the first to leave when a school starts to "turn." I've seen it happen twice.

Our local middle school had an outstanding band program that was about 70 percent Asian when my oldest daughter was there.

By the time my youngest daughter made it through, the band was about 10 percent Asian and a shell of its former self. One afternoon my wife found the director crying in her office, lamenting the fact that she hadn't bailed before the feeder schools tipped and she become more of a "babysitter of the unruly" than a music teacher.

Anonymous said...

> What if, when the first middle-class black family or two had moved into Austin, NO ONE had panicked and sold

The fallacious presumption here is that the initial people picked to move in were actually "middle class".

"Middle class" blacks are much, much more likely to have children, relatives, and associates who are criminals or in jail than whites of similar nominal income. John Ogbu didn't understand regression to the mean, but his study inadvertently shows that AA blacks tend to have underclass kids.

Moreover, there are many dynamics that aren't being appreciated here:

1) Disproportionately Scotch-Irish real estate agents engaged in a practice called "blockbusting"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockbusting


Blockbusting was a business practice of U.S. real estate agents and building developers meant to encourage white property owners to sell their houses at a loss, by implying that racial, ethnic, or religious minorities — Blacks, Hispanics, Jews et al. — were moving into their previously racially segregated neighborhood, thus depressing real estate property values.[1] Blockbusting became possible after the legislative dismantling of legally protected racially segregated real estate practices after World War II, but by the 1980s it disappeared as a business practice after changes in law and the real estate market.[2]


2) Section 8 vouchers allowed blacks with underclass incomes and behaviors to purchase middle class apartments. Again, Scotch-Irish heavily involved here.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/american-murder-mystery/6872/


“Americans had been treating blacks seeking housing outside the ghetto not much better than … [the] cook treated the dog who sought a crust of bread,” wrote the ACLU lawyer and fair-housing advocate Alexander Polikoff in his book Waiting for Gautreaux.

Polikoff is a hero to Betts and many of her colleagues. In August 1966, he filed two related class-action suits against the Chicago Housing Authority and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, on behalf of a woman named Dorothy Gautreaux and other tenants. Gautreaux wanted to leave the ghetto, but the CHA offered housing only in neighborhoods just like hers. Polikoff became notorious in the Chicago suburbs; one community group, he wrote, awarded him a gold-plated pooper-scooper “to clean up all the shit” he wanted to bring into the neighborhood. A decade later, he argued the case before the Supreme Court and won. Legal scholars today often compare the case’s significance to that of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.


Basically, the concept of "middle class blacks" needs to be examined. You only need one incidence of gunfire, one crack house, one mugging in a former leafy middle class neighborhood to get people moving to sell. Maybe that's by the 'middle class' blacks themselves, or by their criminal sons, or by their friends/relatives/guests, or by the fact that whites in the neighborhood are literally stopped by the federal gubmint and the media from upholding white mores.

The powers that be find the few Sidney Poitiers and Obamas in the world and put them on stages. But there aren't enough of them to populate neighborhoods. John Ogbu didn't understand regression to the mean, but we do.

Anonymous said...

Stari, it would interest me to see the religious/ethnic makeup of the neighborhoods and RE people. Boston's most hellish black neighborhoods, Roxbury and Mattapan, were predominantly Jewish enclaves prior to ghettoization. I remember going with my parents to Mattapan Square in the early Sixties to buy meat at the kosher butcher shops when I was a child growing up in the Back Bay, 2 blocks from Fenway Park.

This pattern has has continued down Route 28 through the formerly decent suburb of Randolph into still OK Sharon (where former NE Patriot Roland James was football coach at the High School).

On the other hand, the Irish sections (Southie, Dorchester and Charlestown) were forcibly integrated through public housing and busing. The white-flight Irish moved out of the city along the South Shore corridor, and this area remains pretty white to this day. I don't know what kind of clergy you had in Chicago, Steve, but Boston's Irish Cardinal Cushing would have accepted excommunication before integration.

Interestingly, the Italian North End went pretty much from working/middle class to gentrified with no intermediate steps, due to its proximity to downtown (mostly) and the protective nature of the local Mob (somewhat). The other Italian area, East Boston, a bit more working-class Italian back in the day and just across the Mystic River, is an Hispanic dump. The South/Central American horde has also pretty much taken over the towns the Italians escaped to, Chelsea, Revere and Everett.

Finally, Chinatown has been Chinatown forever, and continues to be. Asians are now also about 20% of the city of Quincy, the first South Shore town leaving Boston. I guess the Quincy Irish consider them a "good" minority, and the fact that Quincy public schools have the highest test scores in MA for cities over 75K population bears that out.

Broken Clock said...

One strategy: when my family relocated in the early 80s we lived in a rental house for about 6 months. The house was owned by the family next door, and at first my parents were interested in buying. The owner told them no, but near the end of the lease he offered to sell. He was blunt: owning the house gave him a chance to choose his neighbors, and he liked us.

His offer came too late, when we'd already found another home, but it seems like a worthy strategy. It would be hard finding enough people like that to protect a community, though.

But my experience is that some ethnic groups do a very good job protecting their neighborhoods, even when beset by policies like school busing - by creating magnet programs at local schools, for example. This works better the larger the IQ gap between your own children and the would-be intruders.

Many of the policies adopted during the civil rights era weren't so much about guaranteeing legal equality between the two races as they were about literally destroying, politically and economically, long-established ethnic white communities, like the Irish in Boston, and whites pretty much everywhere in the South. Few if any of the federal judges imposing these policies lived in the effected neighborhoods.

The desegregators were often very blunt about their motives.

Judge Arthur Garrity, who ordered busing in Boston Public Schools in 1974, was himself a resident of Wellesley, not Boston. From 1970 to 1990, Boston schools went from having 64% white enrollment to just 25%. Judge Garrity? He lived and raised his 4 children in Wellesley, a suburb with its own school system, where even today the population is just 2.2% black and 1.7% Hispanic.

There is a lot off animosity between various white communities, and even between white co-ethnics of different classes. Normally this wouldn't mean much, but the increasing power of the government, often due to the alleged mandate to eradicate racial discrimination, means that people on one side can quite often do a whole lot of damage to the other.

Rafael Koski said...

There is a study on the destruction of working class urban neighborhoods in Chicago by integration. It is "The Slaughter of Cities. Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing" by Michael E. Jones. Not well written, but has interesting material.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it has to do with neighborhoods not being as strong as cities. Take for instance Bellaire, Texas, 77401. That little town is an enclave in Houston. It has zoning and is its own city with its own police, fire dept, water, etc. The horrible little houses there were still white owned by lots of old folks and very average whites until the shifting soil and inhospitable climate finally ruined them and they began to be demolished and replaced. Houston neighborhoods like Westbury went to hell but Bellaire and West U which were their own cities albeit tiny and surrounded did not go ghetto like the areas around them, but why?

Anonymous said...

Blacks are the kiss of death to any neighbourhood they move into. Things quickly reach a tipping point and all whites who can leave. More blacks come in and nice white neighbourhoods become a ghetto and eventually the whole city is consumed. Detroit is the best example of this. I can think of no place on earth that is improved by the arrival of blacks. Either they don't get in, by one means or another, and the area stays white, or at least non-black, or it falls to them and decays into a slum 'hood'.

Hope Mr. Sailer has the stones to print this.

Chief Seattle said...

How much of the quick turnover was made possible by the availability of new suburbs with cheap land and housing? How much was busing in the seventies? As Steve points out, places like Austin had modest housing and not much reason to stick around. But the same thing happened in Seattle in the early seventies in neighborhoods with solid early century housing and great views. Cheap new housing on the other side of Lake Washington started it, and then school busing finished it off. The neighborhood I live in now has stately old homes and an affluent population. But in the seventies the housing market was absolutely in the dumper between the above factors and Boeing layoffs. The racial makeup didn't change much, but the socioeconomic makeup did, and the racial makeup would have changed as well if the area was more diverse.

Gabe Ruth said...

I'm with James on this one, except that it happened (white flight). I understand the relentless logic of the prisoners dilemma, but I guess I've never really believed it represented reality all that well.
I can't understand how you can sell a home in a panic. From the sounds of it, it's not a quick, simple process. So at some point, wouldn't you realize that you were acting irrationally, before selling? I know this is an urban neighborhood so there's going to be alot more turnover than in rural communities, but the descriptions make it sound very tight knit, so there should be a stable base that is settled and not looking to trade up.

Chris Anderson said...

Shaker Heights employed a similar strategy to Oak Park, essentially "reverse steering" buyers and renters in order not to have one or more areas "tip" to all-black. It's been going on for more than 40 years now. My observation is that this had about as much success as anyone could expect. There's an area on the southwest side of Shaker Heights that is virtually all black, but other parts of the city are mixed.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to understand more about the mechanisms of the transition from "middle class families are buying here" to "hellhole full of underclass blacks". Underclass blacks don't have money to buy houses, so presumably they are State-funded? Were the first blacks to move in really middle-class?


There are other posters that could better answer your question, but let me give an answer.

In the beggining, affluent blacks move into the neighborhood and buy up homes. In reaction, lots of whites sell out and housing prices begin to fall. Middle class blacks begin to move in large numbers. Prices fall even more and more whites sell out. Then prices become affordable to working class blacks. Lots of the middle class and working class blacks, while respectable, have low class friend and relatives that come over and cause underclass mayhem. Prices fall even more and the bulk of the whites get out. With problems increasing, the affluent/middle class blacks begin to leave too.

Prices go low enough that lots of the lower end of the black working class buy in. These guys, while not all bad, have kids and friends that make the neighborhood pretty bad. Then finally, the more successful kids of these people move out when they become adults. The less successful kids, who are basically underclass, inherit the houses and come to dominate their neighborhood. Then their kids inherit, and so on.

That, I believe, is the mechanism. Neighborhoods can fill up with lower income blacks quickly, but I think it takes a while for the underclass to take over. Unless public housing is built.

If I'm wrong, someone correct me or elaborate more....

Anonymous said...

I also think that sometimes the underclass can get rental vouchers, which lets them rent in low priced neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Sailer,

I don't know if you follow Austin, Chicago regularly, but you might be interested in the "viewpoints" column of the Austin Weekly News, which is available on-line. The common-sense observations on their dysfunctional community made here by regular Austinians must still be under the radar screen of the Chicago liberal establishment. If not they would have created calls for retractions for the sin of "blaming the victim" or "demonizing the poor" etc.


http://austinweeklynews.com/main.asp?SectionID=3&SubSectionID=3&ArticleID=3369&TM=39214.48

Fast Eddie said...

Hmm, whites eagerly selling out other whites, sounds absurd!

This comment implies some sort of failing on the part of those who fled without making the exact nature of the censure clear. (It sounds like snarkiness but maybe it isn't meant that way.) A later commenter's reference to the Greek phalanx points to the unfairness of this rebuke. The phalanx, a military formation that relied on each soldier sticking to his position no matter what and that quickly fell apart if anyone fled, was possible only because of the overt inculcation of the moral and civil imperative for each soldier to keep his place. Could it be said that the whites of Austin would have been encouraged to adopt an attitude of solidarity under the circumstances? Hardly. Such behavior would undoubtedly have been roundly castigated as racism. Just take a peek at Southie in Boston to see how such a move would have played out.

Given that there was no possibility of maintaining a stance of solidarity without complete cooperation (look at the ultimate failure of the small group that vowed to stay), the only rational move was to get out while the getting was good. You can't blame people for looking out for themselves when society as a whole has indicated that it doesn't care what happens to them.

Anonymous said...

Heard in West Philadelphia forty plus years ago: "Integration is that period of time between when the first Negro family moves in and the last white family moves out." Pastor of St. Francis De Sales in West Philly tried to encourage whites to stay without success. Ironically in the last ten years some of the neighborhood has gentrified - forty years too late for the 1960's families

Charlesz Martel said...

What happens is that the Middle Class Blacks' kids bring friends home, who may be lower class. And then the lawnmowers start disappearing. They eventually figure out that middle class white kids are afraid of them, and they see them as easy pickings. It goes downhill from there. This is what happened in my city and neighborhood, anyway. Guess this makes me a racist.

David said...

James Kabala said Steve

>jumps from solidarity to mugging without clarifying the in-between events<

Why should he? You did so, earlier in the same comment:

>some turnover is inevitable - kids move out and the parents feel the house is too large for an empty nest; parents who do stay into old age die and their heirs have no interest in keeping the property; etc.<

Solidarity here would mean altering/sacrificing one's normal life in order to fight a race war.

Actually Steve does clarify the basic reason why neighborhood solidarity wasn't valued:

>The differences between Austin and Oak Park were that Oak Park had the most historically significant domestic architecture in America. It was worth fighting to save. In contrast, [...] there was nothing special about it [Austin]. It was just a bunch of two and three flats. There were a million neighborhoods like this in Chicago.<

With a large number of such neighborhoods, white flight seems sustainable. It isn't, of course. We know this in hindsight. What can we do now? Not much that isn't illegal except vote for radically different politicians high and low.

Victor said...

"it's better to live in a neighborhood full of architectural treasures inhabited by affluent and powerful people than in a neighborhood full of average buildings inhabited by average people."

In other words, it is better to be rich than to be poor.

Alice in MN said...

can't read Josh's link, can't read Vdare...this is a bit tiresome.

Anonymous said...

I can personally confirm that lots of middle and upper class blacks have sons who derail their lives, get in trouble with the law, fail out of college........ Daughters can do okay and plenty of their sons get ahead too, but a fair percentage have trouble.

My guess is that when middle class and working blacks reach sufficient, their kids cause enough problems to drive out middle class whites. The less successful kids of the blacks inherit the neighborhood and it turns into a slum over time.

Anonymous said...

'Few if any of the federal judges imposing these policies lived in the effected neighborhoods.'

True during busing; true now.

Ever notice that the degree of enthusiastic 'tolerance' toward having a neighborhood, school, community, etc destroyed by 'good intentions' is directly related to how far away the person forcing his 'good intentions' on others is from the results that will follow as night follows day.

travis said...

There is a study on the destruction of working class urban neighborhoods in Chicago by integration. It is "The Slaughter of Cities. Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing" by Michael E. Jones. Not well written, but has interesting material.

Jones gives a lot of details on how the "WASP-Jewish alliance" brought Martin Luther King to Chicago in 1966 in an effort to break up white ethnic neighborhoods. Individual homeowners, or even a collection of homeowners, stood no chance of holding out against that kind of pressure. The transformation of Chicago is not complete with uber-Jew Rahm Emanuel as Mayor and uber-WASP Barack Obama as President.

James Kabala said...

"the 'WASP-Jewish alliance'"

One problem with this theory is that there are ex-Jewish neighborhoods as well (some examples being mentioned in comments above).

Anonymous said...

Ever notice that the degree of enthusiastic 'tolerance' toward having a neighborhood, school, community, etc destroyed by 'good intentions' is directly related to how far away the person forcing his 'good intentions' on others is from the results that will follow as night follows day.

Moscow and Peking during the Cold War were extreme examples of the above. Their propaganda machines attacked "racist genocidal white America" to no end, built on the bones of millions of murdered Ukrainians, Kazakhs, and Tibetans among others.

tommy shanks said...

After having witnessed the destruction of Camden, NJ, in the 1960s, my father always said, "If you wait to sell until the first blacks move in, you've waited too long. The time to flee is when the Jews move in."

The Jews don't have the same sense of attachment or duty to their white Christian neighbors as the white Christians feel for each other. The Jews are also more likely to see selling their home to a black as a "mitzvah" -- as a good deed that allowed a black family to move into a nice neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiousity.

What was the personal reason for alienation the white family that sold out in 1959 was?

Chicago said...

Supposed middle class blacks moving in are just the thin edge of the wedge. The undesirable ones always follow in their wake. The pattern is always the same.
The category of black middle class is a hollow and artificial one. Many are classified that way because they make middle class money; however, that's often due to having good paying government jobs that they really got through affirmative hiring practices. With more money to spend they can give the impression of being of greater import than they actually are. Lots of them are really just recycled low class types in a fancier package.
If one out of four black males has contact with the criminal justice system (translation: they're criminals) then just about every middle class black has a brother, uncle, son who is part of the criminal subculture. There's no sharp demarcation line between the classes.

Steve Sailer said...

Jewish neighborhoods in Boston got hit hard -- Theodore White's autobiography ends with him going back to his old neighborhood in Boston, which was terribly trashed.

Anonymous said...

Growing up along the color line (Western Ave.) on the southwest side of Chicago I have first hand knowledge of what happens when blacks move into a neighborhood. The first black family on my block was placed there in order to "integrate" the area. People were aware of what was happening and refused to sell their homes. But then someone dies or is forced to relocate for work and the only person willing to purchase a home across the street from a million black people is a black family. As soon as the second or third black family moves into the neighborhood, panic sets in. Fear of the coming crime wave and the loss of ethnic/religious neighborhood cohesion sees nearly everyone sell their home (at a loss if necessary) and move. The city had tried to prevent white flight by not allowing "for sale" signs to be posted in the front yards. Right after our neighbors moved out in the middle of the night and blacks moved in a couple of days later, my dad went to the real estate agents office and put the house up for sale. He said that half the houses on the block were already up for sale and he saw two other neighbors at the real estate agent's office.

20-30 years later, I still see people from the old neighborhood and we talk about how much we miss the strong bond that we had living so close to one another and how we know so few of the people on our blocks in the suburbs. It's sad.

Anonymous said...

Hope Mr. Sailer has the stones to print this.

You must be new here.

Anonymous said...

P.S. It seems that no one on the Internet except you has ever used "black a block" in connection with Oak Park. Clearly it was a well-concealed strategy!

Welcome to reality-where all sorts of inconvenient history gets flushed down the memory hole. I remember the program well-if you want to research the topic you'll probably have to pay for access to the Chicago Tribune archives.

Anonymous said...

The middle class black families are no longer the thin edge of the wedge, at least where I live.

The Section 8 welfare mothers are.

Svigor said...

You can't blame people for looking out for themselves when society as a whole has indicated that it doesn't care what happens to them.

This. I'd add that you can't make honest assessments of a group's inherent solidarity without controlling for things like SES and elite treachery. E.g., you must have a block worth busting to attract block-busters. E.g., you must create societies worth breaking into to have an immigration problem. This is why I'm so skeptical of statements like "whites have the lowest inherent solidarity" so common among race-realists. IMO it follows Rushton's scale, like much else.

Svigor said...

With a large number of such neighborhoods, white flight seems sustainable. It isn't, of course. We know this in hindsight. What can we do now? Not much that isn't illegal except vote for radically different politicians high and low.

I think sustained lawfare would be a nice start. All of so-called "anti-discrimination" law is anti-freedom. A literal interpretation of the Constitution wouldn't hurt. Alternatively, treating the Right to Assemble the way the regime has treated the Commerce Clause would be nice, wouldn't it?

Svigor said...

Alternatively, you double down. Create mechanisms to bust rich blocks and create churn in Martha's Vinyard. Surely the rich are vulnerable here, at least rhetorically.

rjp said...

Steve - you left out the left out the park where Oak Park dead-ended all the west bound streets leading in from Chicago, which may have had played some role as well.

Anonymous said...

"Supposed middle class blacks moving in are just the thin edge of the wedge. The undesirable ones always follow in their wake. The pattern is always the same."

How much is the problem the result of 'undesirable' blacks moving in and how much is it a problem of critical mass?
Maybe blacks act more 'undesirably' when more of them are together. So, the problem isn't necessarily a matter of desirable blacks vs undesirable blacks but one of blacks acting more 'undesirably' as their numbers swell.
After all, even an 'undesirable' black is likely to watch himself in a community where most people are white. But even 'decent' blacks might feel more emboldened to act 'black' when there are more brothas around.

Anonymous said...

Reply to anonymous at 2:03 PM;

You make a very good point. One I've noticed with blacks just at my work. When they are solo or only a few, they generally don't act up too much. As their numbers grow in the department there is A BIG CHANGE IN ATTITUDE AND BEHAVIOUR, and thats' when its time to transfer somewhere else, before the department goes too far down the drain.

As Enoch Powell said, "IT'S ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS"!

Anonymous said...

Well, unlike the vast majority commenting, I grew up in the heart of Austin (Chicago and Menard)and I can tell you that the racism among whites was incredible. There was such hatred for any and all blacks it wasn't surprising to me when the people I'd known throughout my childhood, ran for the suburbs and businesses that had been mainstays of the neighborhood mysteriously burned to the ground. When Austin was 100% white, there was plenty of alcoholism(drunks in doorways were a common sight), domestic abuse, and property crime. To paint it as being a place where everyone kept up their properties, worked hard, and staunchly obeyed the law is laughable. There was plenty of blight before any black families arrived, political corruption was commonplace,and stories of burglaries appeared regularly in the neighborhood papers. Sure, Austin is a more violent place now, but it was never a place where Ward and June Cleaver would have lived.In fact, Beaver would have gotten his a@@ kicked.