American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto by Sudhir Venkatesh, William Julius Wilson

By Sudhir Venkatesh, William Julius Wilson

High-rise public housing advancements have been signature beneficial properties of the post–World warfare II urban. A hopeful test in offering transitority, low-cost housing for all americans, the "projects" quickly grew to become synonymous with the black city negative, with isolation and overcrowding, with medications, gang violence, and forget. because the wrecking ball brings down a few of these concrete monoliths, Sudhir Venkatesh seeks to reexamine public housing from the interior out, and to salvage its bothered legacy. in line with approximately a decade of fieldwork in Chicago's Robert Taylor houses, American venture is the 1st complete tale of way of life in an American public housing advanced. Venkatesh attracts on his relationships with tenants, gang contributors, law enforcement officials, and native agencies to supply an intimate portrait of an inner-city group that reporters and the general public have in basic terms seen from a distance. hard the normal suggestion of public housing as a failure, this startling booklet re-creates tenants' thirty-year attempt to construct a secure and safe local: their political battles for companies from an detached urban forms, their day-by-day disagreement with entrenched poverty, their painful judgements approximately even if to paintings with or opposed to the road gangs whose drug dealing either sustained and imperiled their lives. American undertaking explores the elemental query of what makes a neighborhood doable. In his chronicle of tenants' political and private struggles to create a good position to stay, Venkatesh brings us to the guts of the topic. (20010114)

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Whereas residents themselves will point to relative differences in tenant representation, gang Copyright © 2000 The President and Fellows of Harvard College 3 8 A M E R I C A N P R O J E C T Co py activity, and police protection, others have cited the CHA’s own practices. ” Buildings lacking effective screening had the youngest popu- m lation, the highest number of poor and nonworking families, and less vocal leaders. Tenants’ identi~cation with particular territorial units did not stop at the border of the Robert Taylor Homes.

Powerful white ethnic leaders on the City Council rejected the CHA’s proposed sites for lands in white neighborhoods, refusing to tolerate a large black presence in their wards. 14 Addressing speci~cally the Robert Taylor site, the historian Brad Copyright © 2000 The President and Fellows of Harvard College A P l a c e t o C a l l H o m e Η 1 9 Co py Hunt suggests that discrimination played an important role, but that CHA of~cials and black aldermen were also complicit in their intention to place more than seven thousand public housing units in the existing, overcrowded ghetto: CHA of~cials chose Robert Taylor’s site and a black alderman expanded it, while federal of~cials, eager to produce more housing, readily approved .

Building Council presidents] couldn’t get us no jobs, like the [LAC] that came after them” is a typical response to indicate that the power of a Building Council president was limited and was most effective in matters of landscaping and, on occasion, response times for apartment repairs. By working with one another formally and informally to meet their basic needs, residents organized themselves in meaningful ways. Many of the relationships they created were rooted in geographic proximity; for example, residents on neighboring _oors found a marginal advantage when working with one another to monitor the behavior of children, and those living in high-rises that shared a courtyard would plan social activities together.

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