The Democratic Party was the main beneficiary of the by 59R083


									Week 5: Chapter Notes

In this chapter, as with a couple of the others that follow it, you may feel like Judd and
Swanstrom are not really talking very much about cities anymore, since they focus so much
attention on national politics and federal policies. But remember that one of their key arguments
is that the fate and history of cities makes sense only if we see them as part of the national
political system. Cities were, and continue to be, underrepresented at the federal and state levels,
so it was, and continues to be, difficult to make policies that address urban problems directly. In
this chapter, they describe a relatively brief period of time (roughly from the 1930s to the 1960s),
when cities did play an important role in national politics, since they provided the key votes
necessary to win the presidency. The Democratic Party was the main beneficiary of the political
consequences of the demographic shift to cities. For a time, Democrats were able to push
through policies that aided urban constituencies and urban politicians formed an alliance with
federal politicians to channel resources to metropolitan areas. The Great Depression prompted a
frenzy of policy experimentation at the federal level, and increasing federal action benefited
cities, although it is clear that aiding cities was not the only, or even the primary, goal of the New
Deal. Federal policy was prompted both by the depth of the crisis and by the fact that state and
local governments either did not have the resources to respond or chose to focus on other
priorities, such as balancing state budgets. Note also that the anti-urban bias of American culture
is still evident, especially in the 1920s when Prohibition and immigration restrictions manifested
a distinctly anti-immigrant tone, and of course cities were thought of as places with high
concentrations of immigrants. This anti-urban bias, though somewhat muted during the New
Deal, never goes away entirely and reemerges later in the century.

Take a close look at who supports each party and what each party advocates so that you don’t
fall into the trap of thinking the Republicans and Democrats have always stood for the same
things. For example, you will read that Republicans supported tariffs, which are taxes on goods
imported into this country; they did this to protect businesses and, to a lesser extent, workers,
from international competition. Nowadays, Republicans tend to support free trade. Note also
that the South during most of the period under discussion here is solidly Democratic; that is
because the North was Republican during the Civil War. Since the 1980s, of course, the South
has become increasingly Republican.

Chapter 5: Urban Voters and the Reshaping of National Politics

   1. City and Nation in the Twentieth Century
          a. Attention to the problems of cities was guaranteed when both the national
             political parties began to win or lose elections on the basis of urban votes,
             beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s landslide victory in the presidential
             election of 1932.
          b. Modern American liberalism as expressed in the New Deal programs of the 1930s
             and the Great Society programs of the 1960s can be traced to the mobilization of
             the urban electorate in the 1930s. The alliance that provided the foundation for
         the Democratic Party’s ascendancy was made up of two wings, the urban North
         and the solid South. Urban voters learned to vote Democratic because of the
         programs enacted during the New Deal years.
      c. During the New Deal, for the first time in the nation’s history, federal agencies
         were granted powers to regulate the economy and to assist citizens during times
         of need. Urban working class people were benefited by labor legislation such as
         section 7a of the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Wagner Labor Act
         which implement workers compensation for death or injury, safety and workplace
         regulations, and the right of workers to organize unions. As a result union
         members became reliable Democratic voters.
      d. Even in the 1930s, long before civil rights legislation was possible, the Roosevelt
         administration took steps to ensure that blacks received some appointments to
         federal posts and a share of New Deal programs. The legacy of these New Deal
         loyalties only began to weaken in the 1960s and later, when racial animosity
         pushed a wedge between inner-city blacks and white working-class Southern
2. A New Political Consciousness
      a. Prohibition (government prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcohol)
         became the most compelling political issue of the 1920s for it represented a
         frontal assault on the cultural values and customs of immigrants. To rural and
         urban Protestants, the sins of liquor were indistinguishable from the sins of the
         immigrants. Religious fundamentalists of the early 20th century were convinced
         the Roman Catholic Church was intent on subverting civil authority around the
      b. Congress responded to the rising xenophobia with the Emergency Quota Act of
         1921 and the National Origins Act of 1924. The Emergency Quota Act
         reaffirmed the total exclusion of Asians and established a national origins quota of
         3% of each nationality’s proportion of the US population as recorded in the 1910
         census, effectively limiting immigration from southern and eastern Europe.
      c. It soon became apparent however that naturalized immigrants who were not going
         to support candidates who wanted them to stop drinking, Protestantize their
         schools, or tell them as often as possible that they were inferior.
3. The Changing Political Balance
      a. Between 1860 and 1928, Republicans won 14 of 18 presidential contests and
         controlled both houses of Congress the majority of the time. Because the party’s
         main base of support came from the financial, industrial, and commercial
         interests, it opposed taxes on business, enacted tariffs on foreign imports,
         encouraged private exploitation of federal lands in the West, and used federal
         troops to quell strikes. At the same time the Republicans were popular in the
         middle and working class electorates in the north because of the outcome of the
         Civil War and because it presided during a period of general economic expansion
         tied closely to frontier development and industrial growth.
      b. For several decades after the Civil War, the Democratic Party tried to hold
         together a fragile alliance made up of groups opposed to economic domination by
         eastern banks and corporations, railroads, and big money. Composed of an
         unlikely combination of urban ethnic groups, Western farmers, prohibitionists,
         and Southern racist religious fundamentalists, the party had been held together
         mainly by the glue of shared grievances.
      c. In 1928, Democrats gave the nomination to Al Smith of New York, the nation’s
         most prominent Irish Catholic politician. Although he lost the election, 1928
         marked a significant change in the attitude of the urban masses. Both in 1920 and
         1924, the 12 largest cities in the United States had given a decisive majority to
         Republicans. Now the tables were turned and the Democrats came out ahead. In
         1932 election, the Democrats beat the Republicans in big cities first time. Since
         then, the major cities voted heavily Democratic.
4. The Depression and the Cities
      a. The symbolic beginning of the Great Depression occurred on October 24, 1929.
         During the spring of 1929, the unemployment rate stood at 3.2%. Within a few
         months, the number of unemployed exceeded 4 million, representing 8.7% of the
         laborforce. By 1932, 20.4% of all workers, more than 12 million in all, could not
         find jobs. Unemployment levels remained above 20% in both 1934 and 1935 and
         drop below 15% only in 1937.
      b. The statistics only hinted at the extent of human suffering, with hobos and
         Hoovervilles (shanty towns), homeless families camping in empty lots and city
         parks, standing in bread lines, eating from garbage cans, or begging door to door.
         One quarter of homeowners was lost their homes in 1932, and more than 1,000
         mortgages a day were foreclosed in the first half of 1933.
      c. Despite President Hoover’s undying opposition to federal assistance, two major
         programs were funded during his administration. First, the Federal Home Loan
         Bank Act supplied capital advances to the small number of mortgage institutions
         so they could forbear rather than foreclosed on mortgages and fall this program
         saved a few banks. Second, the Emergency Relief and Construction Act extended
         $300 million in loans to state and local governments so they could continue to
         provide relief.
      d. Against a cultural tradition that extolled individualism and free enterprise, there
         was great reluctance to expand the powers of government, especially the federal
         government, to meet the crisis. Roosevelt’s change of heart was motivated by the
         overwhelming sense of crisis that ushered him into the White House. His election
         in November and his inauguration in March, the nation passed through the worst
         months of the depression. Amid marches, riots, arrests, and jailings, politicians
         thought there might be a revolution against the capitalist system.
      e. Most of the legislative onslaught associated with the New Deal was designed to
         stimulate, regulate, and stabilize the most important economic institutions of the
         economy. The other side of the New Deal included its public works and relief
         programs, which assisted millions of unemployed and penniless people. The
         earliest of the public works programs was the Civilian Conservation Corps
         (CCC). In all, it employed more than 2.5 million boys and young men. In 1935
         alone, about 500,000 men were living in CCC camps. The CCC was responsible
         for more than half of all the forests planted in the United States up to the 1960s.
      f. The Civil Works Administration briefly employed almost a third of the
         unemployed labor force, although the program lasted for less than a year. The
           Public Works Administration (1933 to 1939) built 70% of the new school
           buildings and the nation and 35% of hospitals and public health facilities.
       g. The Great Depression revolutionized the group composition of the party system in
           the United States. In addition to their traditional base in the south, the Democrats
           now claimed solid support among workers, Blacks, and the poor in northern cities
           where large numbers of working class and the poor were concentrated.
5. Cities Gain A Voice
       a. During the 1920s, counties and municipalities spent 55 to 60% of all public funds
           in the nation in order to respond to the automobile, middle-class demands for
           improved public education, and public demands for parks and recreational
           facilities; their total debts amounted to $9 billion. The federal government as a
           percentage of all public expenditures actually declined from 2% to 1.3% over the
           decade of the 1920s.
       b. The Depression placed unprecedented responsibilities on city officials at the very
           time that fiscal resources were drying up. Cities could not expand tax revenues to
           keep pace with increased responsibilities. Two thirds of the revenue for city
           budgets came from property taxes. As property values plummeted, property tax
           revenues fell by 20% from 1929 to 1933. When cities financed public works
           programs to help the unemployed, their budgets quickly ran dry.
       c. Local governments turned to the federal government for assistance and this
           marked a turning point in the relationship between cities and the nation.
           Historically, there had been no direct relationship between cities and federal
           government. Many local officials felt it was illegitimate to ask the federal
           government for help, and others feared any aid, thinking it might cause their cities
           to lose their independence.
       d. The situation was made worse by the fact that state governments refused to
           respond to the city’s plight. While municipal government expenditures for jobs
           and relief skyrocketed, states cut back sharply. State officials were more
           concerned with balancing budgets than with alleviating human suffering.
           Because these budget cuts reduced public payrolls, they aggravated the
           unemployment crisis.
       e. State governments were slow to respond to the needs of their cities because rural
           representatives controlled their legislatures. There were important political stakes
           in this pattern of underrepresentation. If cities were allowed to gain majorities in
           legislatures because of their growing populations, political alignments and party
           structures would fundamentally change. Incumbent rural legislatures would lose
           their positions, and a shift in legislative power would inevitably result in new
           government policies.
       f. Roosevelt and his advisers distrusted city politics and culture. Remember that
           Roosevelt had been governor of New York State and knew well how urban
           politics operated under Tammany Hall, the political machine that had so much
           influence in New York City. Roosevelt’s first public works program, the CCC,
           was based on his feeling that the moral character of unemployed youth in the
           cities would be improved by living in the country. In its first two years, the New
           Deal accomplished a comprehensive farm policy of guaranteed price supports,
           crop allotments to reduce supplies and increase prices, and federally guaranteed
         mortgages. By contrast, it took until 1937 for the New Deal to produce its first
         program specifically for the cities: the Public Housing Act.
6. The Urban Programs of the New Deal
      a. The federal government had only a very limited role in urban problems prior to
         the Great Depression.
      b. In 1892 Congress appropriated $20,000 to investigate slum conditions in cities
         with more than 200,000 people; in 1918 Congress authorize direct federal loans to
         local realty companies to construct wartime housing for shipyard workers and
         defense plant workers who needed housing near wartime factories, though all of
         these federally owned housing units were sold to private owners and the
         government removed itself from housing business at the end of the war.
      c. In 1932, in the last year of Herbert Hoover’s presidency, Congress created the
         Reconstruction Finance Corporation and authorized it to extend loans to private
         developers for the construction of low income housing in slum areas, though only
         two projects were actually ever built.
      d. The Emergency Housing Corporation was created in 1933 and distributed money
         to local housing agencies created by state and local governments.
      e. The Public Housing Act of 1937 adopted the principle that housing programs
         were to be implemented through federal grants-in-aid to local housing authorities;
         under the legislation, public housing would be built administered by local
         agencies not by the federal government and real estate agents and contractors
         would handle land sales and construction. The absence of substantial profits for
         real estate agents and builders of public housing projects meant that they
         steadfastly opposed the program. As far as they were concerned, government
         owned housing competed with a private housing market, and its only redeeming
         virtue was that public housing provided jobs in the construction industry. To
         make sure middle-class families could not opt out of the private housing market
         by moving into public housing, the legislation contained specific limitations on
         the costs and quality of rental units and a restriction that occupancy could be
         strictly limited to low income families.
7. The New Deal Legacy
      a. During the New Deal, it became legitimate to seek federal assistance and local
         officials formed an enduring urban lobby organized specifically to represent cities
         in the federal system.
      b. Republicans have been less interested in cities, since their main constituents are in
         suburban areas.
Week 6: Chapter Notes

In this chapter, Judd and Swanstrom cover many of the demographic themes that we examined in
the first several lectures: waves of immigration (from Northern and Western Europe to Southern
and Eastern Europe, the decline during the war, and the most recent streams from Asian and
especially Latin American after 1960), the Great Migrations, and suburbanization. These
movements created a particular pattern of residential segregation that characterized the urban
crisis of the 1960s: poor blacks moving to inner cities, whites moving to suburbs. This
city/suburb divide had a profound effect on the nation’s politics and public policies. But the
forces that created this great urban/suburban divide are changing. Although poor blacks continue
to be concentrated in inner cities, the movement of wealthier blacks to the suburbs, along with
the movement of new immigrants to rural and suburban areas, is creating a new pattern, or set of
patterns, which Judd and Swanstrom call the fractured metropolis. In other words, it is no longer
primarily a matter of black inner cities and white suburbs. Cities have experienced a resurgence,
even though large parts of them still have the classic inner-city pathologies, and suburbs are
becoming much more diverse, socially and economically. The problems of the cities are moving
to the suburbs, with segregation and poverty now a part of suburban life.

One of the key themes in this chapter is poverty. Recall that who is poor has changed over time
just as the population of cities has changed. A hundred years ago, when reformers worried about
slums and the poor folk who lived there, they were usually referring to poor Irish, Jews, Italians,
and other immigrant groups; blacks were a tiny fraction of most urban areas, since they were still
concentrated in the South. The urban poor who most concerned policymakers during the New
Deal were the white working class. By the 1960s, due to the Great Migrations, policymakers
now talked about the inner city, and by this they meant poor blacks. Of course, blacks were not
the only poor folk in the cities or the country. As the videos and lecture for this week make
clear, most poor folk were white and many were from rural areas. But race is a durable dividing
line in American culture and the tensions between blacks and whites in cities was translated into
a discourse that characterized cities as centers of black poverty and pathology and suburbs as
refuges for the white middle class. Because of recent demographic changes, that simple (and
simplistic) pattern is no longer accurate.

Chapter 6: The City-Suburban Divide

   1. A Century of Demographic Change
         a. The migration of millions of white affluent families from the central cities to low
            density suburbs constitutes one of the great population migrations in American
            history. The rapidly growing suburbs became identified with tranquil
            subdivisions with cul-de-sacs and green expanses of lawn. Images of race,
            poverty, crime, and slums came to symbolize inner cities. The habit of seeing two
          different, even hostile worlds was a logical extension of an anti-urban bias that
          had been nurtured since the nation's founding.
       b. The desire to protect the suburbs from the influence of the cities and the people
          who live there has fueled suburban growth in the United States for more than a
          century. Because affluent suburbs could be selective about who they let in,
          central cities inherited the responsibilities and problems the suburbs did not
          choose to support, including especially services supplied to poor people. This
          suburban strategy worked as long as minorities, the poor, and new immigrants
          remained clustered in central cities and older suburbs. But with the rise of multi-
          ethnic suburbs, the old pattern is beginning to disappear.
       c. Recently, the differences between central cities and surrounding suburbs have
          been becoming less sharply drawn. In many American cities, affluent residents
          have been moving downtown, and some suburbs have attracted poor people and
          waves of foreign immigrants. As a consequence the fragmentation of
          metropolitan areas is spawning a new politics that pits suburb against suburb as
          much as suburb against city.
2. Streams of Migration
       a. Between 1940 in 1970, 5 million blacks moved from the South to northern cities.
          At the same time middle-class white families were fleeing cities to low-density
          single-family homes in suburban subdivisions. By the 1970 census, more
          Americans live in suburbs than cities or rural areas. The political consequences of
          these developments have been far-reaching.
       b. For decades, the urban crisis was defined as the segregation between blacks and
          central cities and whites in suburbs. What is different now is that the tensions of
          urban society are no longer located primarily in central cities. In the 21st century,
          the city/suburban dichotomy may become a symbol of the past, replaced by
          metropolitan areas fractured into complex residential patterns.
       c. The suburbs are becoming ethnically diverse. Some were rural areas have been
          changed almost overnight as immigrants moved near large employers of low
          skilled labor, such as meat packing plants and poultry operations. Immigrants are
          showing up in unexpected places, and once an immigrant community exists, it is
          likely to act as a magnet for newcomers.
       d. Two key periods of migration and integration created a crisis of segregation, race,
          and poverty that characterized America’s cities and the 20th century: one around
          World War I (1914-1918) and another during and after World War II (1940-
       e. During World War I, more than a million blacks left the southern states for
          Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, New York City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and other
          cities of the industrial Midwest and Northeast. African Americans made up more
          than 2% of the population in only a handful of northern cities. By 1910, in
          Harlem in New York City, about one third of the population was black; in 1920
          but this proportion increased to 81% by the 1930s census. Three factors prompted
          the African-American exodus: the absence of employment opportunities, the
          intense poverty of southern agricultural life, and dissatisfaction with the racial
          caste system in South. During World War I, factory owners with lucrative
          armaments contracts but too few workers sent labor agents into the South with
          free train tickets to encourage laborers to move north. Whenever blacks
          attempted to move into white neighborhoods, they were harassed or violently
          assaulted. In the workplace, they were the last hired and the first fired. They
          were kept in the most menial occupations. Job opportunities were limited not
          only by employers but even more so by labor unions which generally prohibited
          blacks for membership. Because the North was more heavily unionized in the
          south, there were actually fewer opportunities in some occupations, especially for
          skilled laborers. Blacks found it difficult to adjust urban life. Hardly any of them
          had previously lived in the city. These conditions, when amplified by intense
          segregation in dilapidated overcrowded ghettos, led to astonishing levels of social
          pathology. Harlem’s infant mortality rate was 111 per 1,000 births, compared
          with the city’s rate of 64 per 1,000. Blacks moving into northern cities
          encountered hostility, racism, and discrimination nearly as bad as in South. In the
          infamous “Red Summer” of 1919, more than 20 cities experienced race riots, all
          of them involving attacks by white mobs on blacks. That same year more than
          300 blacks were killed by white mobs in Tulsa, Oklahoma – an incident covered
          up for almost 80 years. This period also saw immigration from Mexico into
          southwestern states.
      f. The second, a bigger way of black migration washed over the cities during World
          War II and did not let up until the late 1960s. Between 1940 and 1970, an
          estimated 5 million blacks left the South. Poverty and unemployment in the
          South provided the push, jobs in the north the pool. The Great Migration had two
          principal components: Blacks were becoming northern, and they were becoming
          urban. The decline of the coal industry in southern Appalachian Mountains and
          the Cumberland Plateau of Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky from the 1930s
          to the 1960s also prompted a massive movement of desperately poor rural white
3. Racial Conflict in the Cities: The Postwar Era
      a. The mechanization of Southern agriculture, in particular the widespread adoption
          of the mechanized cotton picker, threw hundreds of thousands of sharecroppers
          and farm laborers out of work. In 1940, 77% of the nation’s blacks still lived in
          southern states, compared with 87% in 1910. By 1950 only 60% lived in the
          South and in the next two decades that share declined to 56% in 1960 and 53% in
          1970. Nearly all the northbound migrants ended up in cities.
      b. By the mid-1960s white flight from cities had become a generalized phenomenon.
      c. As a result of these population movements – Blacks moving into the cities, white
          moving to suburbs – the racial makeup of the central cities changed quickly. The
          National Commission on Civil Disorders of 1967 (called the Kerner Commission
          after its chairman, Illinois Governor Otto Kerner) warned that the US was
          becoming “two nations, one black, one white – separate and unequal.”
      d. While center cities were becoming increasingly black, the suburbs remained
          mostly white. Blacks were not only crowded into inner-city slums, their plight
          was aggravated by the constant influx of new arrivals, by the ever present threat
          of the urban renewal bulldozer, and by their high rate of poverty. As more
          affluent blacks left the ghetto, the poverty level of many neighborhoods grew
      e. As a result of these trends, in 2000 the poverty rate in central cities was more than
         double the poverty rate in the suburbs. When 1990 census was taken, 71% of low
         income black central city residents lived in poverty neighborhoods compared with
         40% of low income white central city residents. The intense segregation of the
         poor interacted with the segregation of minorities to create a hyper-segregation of
         the minority poor.
      f. In the 1980s, sociologist William Julius Wilson used the term “underclass” to
         refer to people who were concentrated in low income areas and who are
         chronically out of work and out of the social mainstream. More recently, Wilson
         has used the term “the new urban poverty” and his main focus has turned to the
         high proportion of unemployed males in particular areas: poor segregated
         neighborhoods in which a substantial majority of individual adults are either
         unemployed or have dropped out of the labor force altogether. According to
         Wilson, the persistent joblessness among African-Americans can be traced to a
         steep decline of manufacturing jobs in the 1970s and 1980s.
      g. In the past, African-Americans filled a disproportionate share of blue-collar jobs;
         and even though their employment in the service sector rose sharply in the period
         of deindustrialization, those receiving full employment wages declined by 25 to
         30% by the mid-1990s. Even for the available service jobs, educational
         requirements had gone up, and the arrival of Latinos, Asians, and immigrants
         from elsewhere intensified competition for jobs that did not require a formal
         education. Another impediment was that many desirable jobs were located in the
         suburbs. Because transportation is expensive and inconvenient especially for
         working parents, it is doubly difficult for those living in inner-city areas to find
         work. Wilson drew the conclusion that joblessness, not poverty, is the main cause
         of social disorganization in African-American communities.
      h. The health of inner-city communities is also worse than suburban communities.
         The overall national infant mortality rate was about 10 deaths for every 1,000 live
         births in the late 1980s, but the rate for inner-city poverty neighborhoods
         approached that of developing countries. The intersection between health and
         poverty is equally obvious in the case of the AIDS epidemic, which is primarily
         an urban disease in the United States. Citing the fact homicide was the leading
         cause of death for black males aged 15 to 24 in 1990, the federal Centers for
         Disease Control’s stated the casualty rate was approaching that of war. A late
         1980s survey of school children in Chicago found that an astonishing 24% of
         them had personally witnessed a murder. Despite the fact that overall crime rates
         in the 1990s slowed, the level of random violent crime in low income minority
         areas has continued. Gang warfare is more or less a constant in such areas and
         innocent bystanders are frequently caught up in street-level violence.
      i. The discourse about the inner city and the urban underclass soon became our
         national morality play, a performance made up of sensationalized and exaggerated
         narratives of good and evil. Evil was located in the cities, the good in suburbs.
4. The Suburban Exodus
      a. Suburban development in the United States has passed through four stages: the
         railroad and streetcar suburbs of the 19th and early 20 centuries, the automobile
     suburbs of the 1920s, the bedroom suburbs of the 1940s through the 1960s, and
     the multiethnic suburbs and the rise of residential enclaves.
b.   The romantic suburban ideal: Commuter tickets on railroads were far too
     expensive for ordinary workers, and thus the railroad suburbs that prospered in
     the mid-19th century were restricted to the wealthiest classes; these suburbs
     looked like scattered buildings in the park. The electric trolley began to
     revolutionize urban transportation in the 1890s. It was the breakthrough that
     caused a sudden jump in the rate of suburban development. The romantic
     suburban ideal was only one side of a two-sided coin. The other side was not so
     attractive. Academic writers promoted the idea that our cities were full of junk,
     much of it human.
c.   The automobile suburb: in the beginning, suburban developments did not seem to
     constitute a threat to cities. Railroad and streetcar suburbs prospered, but the
     people who lived in them were still completely dependent on downtown jobs.
     The automobile changed all that. Through the introduction of the moving
     assembly line in 1913, Ford was able to reduce the cost of a model T from $950
     and 1910 to $290 1924. The construction of adequate roads lagged seriously
     behind car ownership, but this problem was eventually solved when automobile
     owners successfully pressed for massive state and federal funding, mainly through
     gasoline taxes. All through the affluent 1920s, office construction and retailing in
     central business districts boomed. Almost all white collar people worked and
     shopped in the old downtowns. The Great Depression slowed suburban
     development, but it even more drastically applied to break to central city
     population growth.
d.   The bedroom suburbs: the housing industry geared up to meet the pent-up demand
     from World War II and the depression, pushing single-family housing starts from
     only 114,000 in 1944 to 1,692,000 by 1950. Virtually all of this new construction
     took place in the suburbs. Utilizing mass production methods and sophisticated
     marketing techniques, big companies began to dominate the housing industry.
     After the war, the pent-up demand for housing ignited a gold rush to suburbs. In
     earlier decades, suburban development had been mainly an upper and middle
     class phenomenon, but now it filtered down to include working-class families.
     The homeownership rate increased from 44% in 1940 to 63% by 1970. The big
     cities in the industrial belt that stretched from New England through the Great
     Lakes states actually lost population. It was not only that the suburbs were
     growing faster than the cities, they were also pulling affluent white families out of
     them, leaving behind a segregated population made up of blacks, the poor, and
     other minorities: this is known as white flight.
e.   Multiethnic suburbs and the rise of residential enclaves: in recent decades, the
     suburbs have gradually transformed from fully dependent satellites of cities
     (places where people lived but not where they worked) to self-sufficient enclaves.
     Although suburban development historically has been primarily a residential
     movement, since at least 1948 jobs have decentralized even faster than
     population. Retailing moved out at a slower pace than did manufacturing and
     wholesaling because retailing is directly dependent on a nearby critical mass of
     buyers. However, after the suburban boom, suburban residents no longer needed
         to go downtown, and a historic link between city and suburbs was severed. The
         suburbanization of manufacturing employment was made possible by technical
         innovations that freed factories from a dependence on rail connections. Electric
         power made single-story plants on suburban land more economical than multi-
         story buildings that housed belt driven machinery powered by water or steam. In
         addition, manufacturers left cities because they viewed them as hotbeds of union
         organizing and unrest. Through accelerated depreciation of assets (which allowed
         manufacturers to take tax deductions when they abandoned inner-city factories)
         and investment tax credits (which allowed manufacturers to take tax credits for
         new plant and equipment) the federal government subsidized the flight of
         industrial jobs to the suburbs and Sunbelt. By 1970 a majority of the
         manufacturing jobs in metropolitan areas were located in the suburbs. The
         service sector was the last to suburbanize. Central business districts offered
         advantages to firms desiring face-to-face relations with clients and benefiting
         from the concentration of business services downtowns. However, in 1975, for
         the first time, the amount of office construction in suburbs exceeded the volume
         of office construction in cities. By 1980, twice as many people commuted from
         suburb to suburb as committed from suburb to central city.
      f. The historic urban form, in which a city is surrounded by dependent suburbs,
         began to break down and be replaced by the poly-nucleated metropolis,
         characterized by several nodes of concentrated land use the combined residential,
         retail, recreational, light industry, and service firms. What decentralized cities
         have in common is that they are today springing up as places where jobs, housing,
         light industry, retail malls, and recreation are concentrated, usually near freeway
         interchange or airports. Developers are especially keen to appeal to the fast-
         growing segments of the American population, such as young singles, childless
         couples, and the elderly.
      g. As the suburbs become more diverse, many of them also became urbanized in the
         sense that they began to exhibit the problems long associated with central cities.
         In the 1990s, many suburban residential areas became narrowly defined enclaves
         of like-minded people who are trying to sever all contact with central cities and
         even with nearby neighborhoods. There is such a heavy demand for gated
         communities in the Los Angeles suburbs that they are quickly replacing all other
         kinds of development. Enclave suburbs against enclave suburb: this conflict may
         be replacing the city suburban divide.
5. The Multiethnic Metropolis
      a. A modest reverse migration of blacks back to the South began in the 1980s.
         Most of the population increases among inner-city blacks after 1970 were due to
         natural increases (births) rather than to migration.
      b. By the 21st century, the segregation of blacks and whites was being supplanted by
         a new reality: America was becoming a multiracial and multiethnic society.
      c. The volume of immigration to the United States in the 1990s exceeded even the
         immigration floodtide from 1900 to 1910. The proportion of immigrants in the
         population was far less than in the late 19th and early 20 centuries, but a larger
         number of immigrants lived in the United States by 1990 than in any previous
         period in the nation’s history.
      d. The immigration laws in effect from the 1920s to the mid-1960s reflected fears
          that foreigners might overwhelm the country. The National Origins Immigration
          Act of 1924 allowed 2% of the base population of foreign-born nationality groups
          as recorded in census in 1890 integrate into the United States. This law
          accomplished its intended goal of drastically reducing immigration by all groups
          except those who are in Europe. Immigration by Slavs, Jews, Italians, Greeks,
          and other supposedly “inferior” peoples, most of whom entered the country after
          1890, was cut by more than 90%. By the 1960s, such a blatantly biased and racist
          formula became difficult to justify and in 1965 Congress essentially put
          immigrants from all countries on an equal footing and granted a high priority to
          family reunification, assisting political refugees from socialist and communist
          countries, and allowing in foreigners with job skills needed in the United States.
          In the mid-1990s, the United States was admitting more legal immigrants than all
          of the rest of the nations of the world combined.
      e. This meant that the United States was becoming remarkably racially and
          ethnically diverse, especially in the metropolitan areas receiving the largest
          number of immigrants. The census of 2000 showed that more than three fourths
          of Latinos lived in five southwestern states, plus Florida. Half of the Latinos
          residing in the United States lived in California and Texas, but the largest
          percentage increases in Latino population in the decade of the 1990s were in
          North Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Nevada.
      f. To deal with the problem of illegal immigration, Congress enacted the
          Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 which established stiff penalties for
          employers knowingly hired illegal immigrants. However, the benefits of hiring
          illegal aliens clearly outweighed the risk of getting caught, at least until
          enforcement tightened in 2005.
      g. Latinos as a group have lagged behind the US population generally on all
          indicators of economic well-being. The relative lack of educational
          qualifications, plus a measure of discrimination, this meant the Latinos have also
          occupied the lower rungs on the job ladder. A smaller proportion of people of
          Hispanic descent have moved into the middle class with respect to income,
          education, and occupational status, although this varies by country of origin, with
          some Hispanic groups faring better than others.
6. Has the Urban Crisis Disappeared?
      a. Many of the recent immigrants have been bypassing the central cities entirely and
          moving directly into suburbs. By 2000, 55% of Asians, 50% of Latinos, and 39%
          of blacks live in suburbs, and the proportions were much higher in many Sunbelt
          metropolitan urban regions. The movement to the suburbs has lowered the
          incidence of racial and ethnic segregation.
      b. Concentrated poverty has also decreased. There is evidence that the social ills
          that gave rise to the label “the urban underclass” have become much less
      c. Even in light of such evidence, it would be premature to conclude the urban
          problems of the past (high levels of segregation, inequality and poverty, and racial
          and ethnic tensions) are disappearing.
d. The urban crisis of the 20th century was defined by reference to the great
   city/suburban divide. And in that important sense, the old urban crisis is mostly a
   thing of the past. But problems previously associated with broad areas of central
   city ghetto neighborhoods are now appearing all over the place. Although
   concentrated poverty has declined somewhat in central cities, it has not fallen in
   the suburbs or in rural areas. The politics of urban areas and the nation will no
   longer be defined as black versus white or city versus suburb.
e. Even in the midst of downtown recoveries, cities continue to be repositories of
   serious social problems. Lower status service workers are indispensable to the
   working of a global city. Clerical workers, janitors and cashiers, cooks and
   busboys, maintenance and security workers, and a multitude of personal service
   specialists are taken disproportionately by immigrants and minorities. These jobs
   generally paid little, but with the result that inequality escalated upward.
f. Inequality: New York’s experience is revealing. In the late 1980s, the poorest
   20% of the population in the New York metropolitan region accounted for 5% of
   incomes, but the top 20% of wage earners had a 45% share. By 1997, the
   percentage of earnings claimed by the poorest fifth declined to just above 2%
   whereas the richest fifth received 56% of all earnings. Rising inequality is
   occurring not only in global cities but throughout American society. In 1980, the
   bottom fifth of the population earned 4.3% of all income, but only a few years
   later in 1998 the poorest fifth of wage earners accounted for just 3.6%.
   Meanwhile, from 1980 to 1998 the richest fifth increased its share from 44 to
g. It is unrealistic to suppose that rising inequality can occur without a simultaneous
   increase in social problems. Within urban areas extreme inequality is expressed
   in two ways: social disorder in the form of crime, riots, and family
   disorganization; and residential patterns of segregation. The urban patterns of the
   past are slowly disappearing and a new pattern – the fractured metropolis – has
   emerged, but the problems associated with the old urban crisis will remain largely
Week 7: Chapter Notes

Post-war urban policies (urban renewal, public housing, interstate highways), combined with
private housing policies established during the New Deal (the National Housing Act), were
major contributors to the urban crisis of the 1960s. This is the main point of this chapter. Judd
and Swanstrom argue that cities were already in a crisis because of the depression and war, with
crumbling infrastructure (in spite of New Deal public works programs) and especially decaying
housing stocks. Because of the lack of home building during the war, cities suffered from a
housing crisis immediately in the aftermath of the war. A political coalition formed in major
metropolitan areas, composed of real estate interests, construction unions, building trades, and
urban politicians, the goal of which was to bring federal dollars to cities to facilitate the renewal
of downtown areas. These policies did have housing component, but the terms of the public
housing acts meant that the buildings were not very desirable and were reserved increasingly for
the poorest of the poor; as a result of the second big wave of the Great Migrations, that meant the
decaying urban areas and public housing were associated with poor blacks. These “inner city”
populations (the term became code for black urban residents) were displaced by urban renewal
projects and highways, both of which destroyed the urban fabric and facilitated the flight of
middle class groups to the suburbs; this movement was subsidized by federal housing policies
that guaranteed home mortgages for new suburban construction. You can see how, as a result of
these trends, the anti-urban bias of American culture will find renewed expression in the 1960s,
but not because cities were full of immigrants as in the 1920s (remember that immigration
restrictions resulted in the steady decline of the number of foreign born citizens, so that by 1970
fewer than 5% of the population was foreign-born), but because cities were now associated with
poor African-Americans.

I suggest you keep in mind a couple of caveats as you read this chapter. First, recall that prior to
1950 or so, even suburbs were fairly diverse. Although Judd and Swantrom make it sound as
though only white middle and upper income groups moved to the suburbs, earlier lectures
emphasize that all sorts of groups lived in suburbs: the working class, immigrants, African-
Americans. But those suburbs were hardly uniform and were built without substantial federal
assistance and often without the participation of large-scale builders. Post-war suburbs were
often times mass produced by large builders and thus required more formalized mortgage
systems, such as those provided by the federal government. As a result, post-war suburbs tended
to be less diverse. Second, urban renewal coalitions were interested in the physical and
economic aspects of cities. Urban renewal, public housing, and highways are often referred to as
“bricks and mortar” programs, which is to say that they are about building structures. They are
not primarily “social programs” in the sense that they invest most of their resources directly in
people (through health and education, for example). Those sorts of programs are associated with
the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson and do not emerge until after 1964. In fact, Great Society
programs were prompted, in part, by the perceived failure of urban renewal to deal with the
human side of urban problems. However, public housing and urban renewal did have a social
component and certainly they had social objectives. Judd and Swanstrom make it seem as
though no one was interested in the poor folk who lived in dilapidated housing, but the videos for
this week suggest that such programs, in spite of the resistance to them, were sincerely directed
at bettering the lives of urban residents, even if, in the end, they did more harm than good.

Chapter 7: National Policy and the City-Suburban Divide

   1. The Unintended Consequences of National Policies
         a. By the end of World War II (1945), cities were suffering from several major
             problems: neglect of basic infrastructure during the Great Depression and the war
             could be observed in the decay of business districts, the dilapidation of older
             housing stock, and the tattered state of roads, bridges, and parks. There was also
             a major lack of housing after the war.
         b. Through the 1949 Housing Act and subsequent legislation, federal programs
             made available massive volumes of public funds for America’s cities. But federal
             policies tended to exacerbate urban problems by promoting the segregation of
             inner-city blacks from suburban whites, isolating the middle class from the poor,
             and destroying the physical and social fabric of inner cities, thus contributing to
             the urban crisis of the 1960s.
         c. The federal government helped finance a suburban housing boom the promoted
             patterns of residential segregation that separated the central cities and suburbs,
             differentiated inner ring suburbs from the new subdivisions spreading inexorably
             outward. In 1956, the federal government expanded its role in cities enormously
             with the Defense and Interstate Highway Act, which was intended to create a
             42,000 mile national system of interstate highways; however, the results of this
             policy only sped the exodus to the suburbs while tearing through urban
         d. It is thus inaccurate to use the phrase national urban policy when referring to the
             policies that have influenced urban development in the United States. There
             never has been national policy for the cities. Instead, a mixed bag of policies has
             been adopted at various times and the contradictions and problems with these
             policies have, in many cases, hurt cities rather than helping them.
   2. The Politics of Urban Redevelopment
         a. Urban renewal programs were supported by different groups for very different
             reasons. Public authorities and planners believed that such programs were
             beneficial because they were supposed to help families and individuals living in
             slums to begin improving their lives, thus lowering the level of social disorder in
             inner cities. Realtors, developers, financial institutions, and local business elites
             were not concerned so much about the conditions of life for slum dwellers as for
             their own investments in inner-city property.
         b. Through housing and home finance agencies, the federal government offered
             grants-in-aid to help local urban renewal agencies absorb the cost of a “right
             down” on the sales price of the land that had been configured for slum buildings.
             The “right down” was the difference between the local agencies’ cost of
             assembling and clearing the site and the below-market price subsequently paid by
          private developers; in other words, private developers paid local urban renewal
          agencies less for land than it originally cost the agencies to purchase, clear, and
          assemble the land in the first place – in this sense, the federal government was
          subsidizing land costs for the private sector.
      c. The legislation authorized the production of 810,000 government subsidized
          housing units over a six-year period (although fewer than this number were
          actually built): 10% of the estimated national need for new low-cost dwellings.
          Per room per unit cost limitations were imposed to prevent extravagance and
          unnecessary amenities. Rent levels and tenant eligibility requirements were
          regulated to minimize competition with private housing market and to ensure that
          public housing benefited only the neediest families. These features of the policy
          were intended to prevent the federal government from competing with the private
          sector and thus to increase political support for the measure.
3. Urban Renewal as Good Politics
      a. Local political and economic elites were far more concerned about the economic
          decline of central business districts than they were about slum residents. Right
          from the beginning low-income housing was sacrificed to commercial
      b. Slum clearance and economic redevelopment added up to good politics. Seizing
          on redevelopment as a way to secure federal funds, enterprising mayors could
          simultaneously advance their political fortunes and improve the public image of
          their cities. Real estate and business interests in central business districts,
          metropolitan newspapers, and construction trade unions supported urban renewal,
          thus comprising a local urban renewal coalition the goal of which was primarily
          to bring federal dollars to decaying downtown areas, rather than helping the poor.
      c. The members of the urban renewal coalition needed one another. Local officials
          needed investment capital and the public prestige the business community
          possessed. The government’s power of eminent domain, which allowed it to
          condemn blighted property for a higher public use, was crucial for land assembly
          because individual property owners could not otherwise be compelled to sell to
          private owners. Finally, the unique ability of local agencies to receive the
          necessary “right down” subsidies and loans from the federal government made
          local governments indispensable to business leaders who wanted urban
      d. Sometimes, neighborhood groups did object to urban renewal policies, but they
          were often powerless in the face of pro-urban renewal coalitions. Neighborhoods
          opposing urban renewal were basically trying to protect their own turf, so it was
          difficult for them to make common cause and oppose the pro-renewal coalitions.
          By astutely selecting renewal and redevelopment sites, urban renewal
          administrators found it easy to pursue a politics of divide and conquer.
      e. Because urban renewal had a disproportionate influence on black neighborhoods,
          it was derisively called “negro removal.”
      f. Because of the destruction caused by misguided renewal programs, some slum
          areas grew faster than the renewal projects could eliminate them.
4. Racial Segregation and the Projects
      a. In core areas of the cities, poverty and race were inextricably linked; as a result,
          most urban renewal program seemed to have racial or racist overtones.
      b. Nationwide, nonwhites accounted for 38% of all public housing tenants in 1952;
          by 1961, this percentage had risen to 46%.
      c. In retrospect, it now seems clear that three key elements of the public housing
          program insured that it would fail. The first and perhaps most important problem
          was that eligibility was restricted for those who could not afford any other kind of
          housing. The real estate lobby would not tolerate any other policy. This policy
          tended to concentrate poor families together. The second flaw was related to the
          fact that public housing projects almost always were built on slum land that had
          been cleared for that purpose; almost never were they built outside ghetto areas
          and never in the suburbs. The third fundamental problem flowed from the cost
          and design restrictions that guaranteed most units would be undesirable,
          especially as they aged.
      d. Public housing and urban renewal met their effective demise in the 1970s. In
          1974, urban renewal was merged into the Community Development Block Grant
          program. Public housing was allowed to wither away under Ford and Carter. A
          few years later, it was essentially abandoned when the Reagan administration
          eliminated low income housing built by the government in favor of programs to
          subsidize landlords.
      e. The politics of urban renewal and public housing programs undercut their
          announced social objectives. Public housing projects became cultural symbols of
          blacks on welfare. The white middle class developed the habit of associating
          declining property values with an invasion by blacks.
5. National Policy and the Suburbs
      a. Suburban growth would have occurred with or without government policies to
          hurry the process along, but it would have been far slower and more unpredictable
          if it had depended on housing market alone. But two federally funded programs
          accelerated suburban development: the Federal Housing Administration loans
          established by the National Housing Act of 1934 and the Veterans Administration
          loans made available GIs by the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944.
      b. The Great Depression prompted the federal government to aid the housing market
          because employment in construction was a significant part of the national
          economy, second only to agriculture as an employer. 63% of the workers in the
          housing industry were unemployed in 1933.
      c. The National Housing Act of 1934 created the Federal Savings and Loan
          Insurance Corporation. Section 203 of this act created the basic home mortgage
          insurance program under which the bulk of Federal Housing Administration
          insurance has been written up to the present day.
      d. Despite the impression one might get from reading the legislation, new
          construction under FHA came to mean housing outside the cities. Almost all of
          the new homes bought with government loans were built in the suburbs. FHA
          administrators actively promoted the idea that housing and therefore
          neighborhoods should be racially and ethnically segregated. The federal
          administrators advised the developers of residential projects to use restrictive
          covenants barring sales to nonwhites before they applied for federal insurance
         financing. When the Supreme Court ruled in 1948 that racial covenants attached
         property deeds could not be enforced in courts of law the FHA was forced to
         change its policies but it did nothing to reverse the effects of its previous policies
         and took no actions to discourage real estate agents, developers, or lending
         institutions from discriminating against blacks. Until the passage of the Housing
         Act of 1968, it was still legal for real estate agents and mortgage institutions to
         discriminate on the basis of race. With the Civil Rights Act of 1968, Congress
         outlawed racial discrimination in housing, thus opening the suburban housing
         market to African-Americans.
      e. Suburbanization undoubtedly expanded housing choice for blacks, but those who
         moved to the suburbs in the 1970s and 1980s remained about as segregated from
         whites as they were before. Blacks moved mostly into older and inner ring
         suburbs where they displaced white residents much as they had previously in
         central cities. These older suburbs tended to have many of the same problems as
         central city neighborhoods. Most suburban whites continue to have little contact
         with suburban blacks.
      f. Racial discrimination in housing continued even though legislation had outlawed
         it, in part because the enforcement provisions of the 1968 legislation were weak.
         Enforcement improved somewhat under Ronald Reagan, when HUD took steps to
         publicize the remedies available under the 1968 civil rights legislation.
6. Suburbs, Highways, and the Automobile
      a. National transportation policies also encouraged suburban growth and central city
      b. Although other advanced industrial nations have embraced the automobile, they
         also maintain modern systems of mass transit as workable alternatives. In the
         United States as a whole, only 4% of workers used public transit to commute to
         work in 2000.
      c. The 1956 Defense Highway Act was justified partly on military grounds: to aid
         the movement of troops and supplies, and to help evacuate American cities in the
         case of a nuclear attack. The main rationale, however, was that freeways would
         stimulate the economy by creating a national system of super highways linking all
         the major metropolitan areas in the nation. Within urban areas, expressways were
         expected to solve the growing problem of traffic congestion by decentralizing
         American urban areas. In 1956 legislation placed federal gasoline taxes and new
         excise taxes on tires and heavy vehicles into a federal highway trust fund and used
         that money to pay for 90% of construction.
      d. The interstate highway system was designed for efficiency, but construction often
         meant that urban neighborhoods were destroyed, urban residents were displaced,
         and downtown areas divided and cut off from their waterfronts. As a result of
         freeway revolts began to proliferate.
      e. By the 1980s, the final price tag for building the interstate system exceeded $100
         billion. Although highway building received huge subsidies year in and year out,
         urban mass transit was starved. In an effort to remedy the damage from these past
         policies, in 1992 Congress passed the Intermodal Surface Transportation
         Efficiency Act which took substantial authority over interstate highway funds
         from politically insulated state transportation departments and put decisions about
         urban transportation systems in the hands of metropolitan planning organizations;
         the idea was that by putting transportation planning in the hands of metropolitan
         governments, they would be more sensitive to the real needs of cities and their
         residents. This legislation encouraged regional transportation planning by
         “flexing” federal highway funds, a process that allowed a portion of motor vehicle
         taxes to be spent on mass transit and even bicycle and pedestrian uses, if local
         transportation planners chose to do so.
      f. In spite of these changes, urban transportation systems are well established and
         computing habits are basically fixed, largely because land use patterns and
         transportation policies over the last century have caused cities to sprawl. Change,
         therefore, will come slowly if at all.
7. The Damaging Effects of Urban Policy
      a. The urban programs initiated after World War II contributed to racial segregation
         and discrimination. While urban renewal clearance programs bulldozed slum
         housing, public housing projects segregated blacks more than ever. Meanwhile,
         the white middle class was paid in essence to move to the suburbs, and expensive
         new freeway systems eased their commute to their jobs in the center city.
      b. The fact that national programs work at cross purposes for questionable results
         left a legacy of distrust that lingers to this day for decades. Millions of white
         middle-class families were able to secure loans guaranteed by the federal
         government that allowed them to move into new suburban developments. Despite
         significant progress in breaking down racial barriers in recent decades, family
         wealth (which is determined largely by housing) remains one of the enduring
         differences between blacks and whites in America. This gap was created in
         substantial measure by the federal government’s housing policies.
Week 8: Chapter Notes

This chapter describes the growth and decline of the sort of urban social programs that we
associate with the Great Society and War on Poverty. Although Judd and Swanstrom make it
seem like these programs were all about politics, it is also true that they were motivated by a
perceived need to aid people in distress, both because of the urban rioting of the 1960s and
because of a legacy of active government inherited from the New Deal and the Progressive Era
which suggested that the great problems of urban areas could be addressed by enlightened public
policies. The videos you have seen suggest just how optimistic advocates of government urban
and social policies: people in cities were virtuous and hard working; they were suffering with
hardships that prevented them from realizing their full potential; government could help free
them from those constraints and make them more productive citizens.

This chapter also describes the backlash against these programs. Here too the authors describe
the shift as a political matter brought about mainly by the movement of voters to the Sunbelt and
suburbs and away from older central city. Suburban voters, who increasingly looked at cities as
dangerous places full of undesirable residents, wanted policies that addressed their own
problems: high-quality infrastructure, low-cost homeownership, low taxes. These trends were
apparent before 1980, but the election of Ronald Reagan resulted in dramatic changes to urban
policy. Previous policies were cut back or eliminated and new emphasis was placed on policies
that encouraged cities to find ways to attract private capital: rather than investing in people, as
many Great Society programs had done, the new emphasis was on providing incentives to
private capital to undertake projects in cities. This trend toward private investment and a more
conservative approach to social policy was continued through the Clinton administration, largely
because appealing to more conservative suburban voters was the key to winning national

The relatively brief lifespan of urban social programs suggests that there is more than
demographics at play in these changes: that is, it is not the case that American suddenly became
suburban between Johnson’s overwhelming victory over Goldwater in 1964 and Reagan’s defeat
of Carter in 1980. The image of cities changed dramatically during this period. Inner-city
poverty had long been considered a matter of the white working-class; during the Great
Depression, poverty was seen as a problem of white working and middle class citizens. The
videos you have seen suggest just how sympathetically these folks were viewed: they just needed
a little help so that their natural energy and desire to work hard for their families could produce
better results. Over the course of the 1960s, inner-city came to mean black, and conflicts between
whites and blacks over housing, schools, and resources led to increasing friction over the issue of
race. Rioting in the mid-1960s made it easy to think of inner-city African Americans as violent
and ungrateful, and it also made it easy to see social programs as either ineffective or as
“rewarding the rioters.” American culture already had a deep element of racism and this was
quickly turned against urban areas. Republicans and conservative Democrats capitalized on this
resurgence of anti-urban bias (recall that in earlier decades, anti-urban bias was directed
primarily at immigrants), now identified with race, and over time that bias was translated into
less support for urban policies and more support for suburban voters.

Finally, consider what rioting did to the image of cities that were still undergoing urban renewal.
Those urban areas had been described as decaying, blighted, obsolete, undesirable, and now they
were burned out. Suburbs began to look even better as a result, and because so much business
activity had already moved out of downtown areas, it is no surprise that cities began to lose the
sympathy of policymakers.

Chapter 8: Urban Policy and the Politics of Race

   1. The Brief Lifespan of the Inner-City Programs
         a. The problems of racial segregation and discrimination, poverty and inner city
             decline burst onto the nation’s political agenda in the 1960s amid a growing
             recognition that previous programs that were not doing the job. Especially within
             the Democratic Party, there was a consensus that a comprehensive strategy was
             needed to address social and urban problems. For a brief time, urban problems
             became the main focus of national policy, but political support for such programs
             proved to be short lived, and therefore it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to assess
             their potential for success.
         b. For most of the programs of the Great Society, Lyndon Johnson’s campaign
             slogan in the 1964 presidential race, were passed in a two year period from 1965
             to 1967. By the 1968 election, spending for the Vietnam War had already begun
             to curb the Democratic Party’s enthusiasm for new policies, but racial divisions
             prove to be even more decisive.
         c. After 1964, Republican candidates began to win elections in the South for the first
             time since the Civil War. Richard Nixon’s victory in 1968 made it clear that it
             was impossible to divorce the issue of race from social welfare and urban
             programs. As long as the programs advanced by Democratic liberals did not
             challenge race relations in the South, Southern Democrats were willing to go
             along. But this tacit bargain ended with the civil rights legislation and the social
             programs of the 1960s. Urban programs vanished along with the alliance that
             Democrats had inherited from the New Deal years in the 1930s as the attempt to
             address the long-standing grievances of African-Americans alienated white
             Southerners and white working-class voters in urban areas.
   2. The Democrats and the Cities
         a. The Kennedy administration focused on poverty, racial segregation, juvenile
             delinquency and crime, bad schools, and a host of other social problems that were
             discovered, or rather rediscovered, in the 1960s. Many of these policies were
             continued and expanded during the Johnson administration. President Johnson,
         modeling himself on Franklin Roosevelt, declared an unconditional war on
         poverty in 1964.
      b. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination in public accommodations,
         effectively striking down Jim Crow laws in South that denied blacks equal access
         to bus stations, restaurants, lunch counters, theaters, sports arenas, gasoline
         stations, motels, motels, and lodging houses. It outlawed racial discrimination in
         hiring, firing, training, and promoting of workers. It outlawed discrimination in
         the administration of federal grants. One year later, Congress passed the Voting
         Rights Act, which not only outlawed literacy tests and other discriminatory voting
         restrictions but also provided that federal registrars could replace local registrars
         in counties where there had been a history of discrimination against black voters.
      c. The Democrats’ overwhelming victory in the 1964 presidential race set the stage
         for a period of legislative activism not seen sent Roosevelt’s fabled 100 days in
         1933. Between 1964 and 1966, Congress authorized 219 new programs. In 1965
         Congress approved Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for welfare recipients.
         The Elementary and Secondary Education Act provided federal grants to schools.
         Food stamps became permanent in 1966. New and expanded education and job
         training assistance was made available for the mentally and physically
         handicapped. The public housing and urban renewal programs were expanded.
         In 1966 Congress created the Department of Housing and Urban Development to
         administer urban programs. During this period local governments became
         increasingly dependent on intergovernmental transfers from federal and state
      d. Great Society programs created a revolution in local politics. Rather than work
         through local politicians who had repeatedly shown an unwillingness to mobilize
         the votes of inner-city blacks, federal administrators try to work directly with
         organizations and leaders in black communities. In many cases, local
         administrators of anti-poverty programs led protest actions against mayors,
         welfare departments, and school boards, demanding implementation of programs
         that responded to complaints from the black community.
3. The Republicans and the New Federalism
      a. Republican candidate Barry Goldwater and the Republican Party had been
         overwhelmingly defeated in 1964 but in 1968 Richard Nixon won the presidency.
         However, between 1969 and 1976 aid to state and local governments actually
         grew because Democrats controlled Congress and a powerful constellation of
         interest groups rallied to the cause. After a failed attempt to kill the War on
         Poverty in 1969, Nixon set a middle course and tried to reform rather than to
         eliminate social and urban programs.
      b. Ford and Nixon altered the practice of War on Poverty programs by lumping
         individual programs into block grants that gave state and local governments broad
          discretion in deciding how to use the money. Block grants, so called because they
          bundled several programs into a block with only a single application, gave
          Republicans the opportunity to rewrite legislation so funds would flow less to the
          central cities and more to smaller cities and suburbs where Republican voters
          lived. Nixon proposed a “New Federalism” and to restore a rightful balance
          between the state capital in the national capital. Revenue sharing programs gave
          local officials extraordinary latitude in deciding how to spend federal money.
          Congressional Democrats complained that the programs ignored the needs of
          disadvantaged populations but for Republicans but that was the whole point.
      c. The Community Development Block Grant program enacted by Congress in 1974
          and signed into law in 1975 is the only significant survivor of the major urban
          policies enacted in the pre-Reagan era.
      d. Distribution of federal monies by local authorities occurs along political lines. As
          one local official said, poor people don’t vote.
4. President Carter and the Democrats’ Last Hurrah
      a. President Carter attempted to give urban programs some of the flavor of the
          policies of the past but his difficulties showed just how much national politics had
          changed since the heyday of the cities. Carter tried to reward his electoral base by
          amending the community development act in order to increase aid to older cities;
          the existing formula for distribution of federal funds gave greater weight to cities
          with larger populations, which meant that older cities that were losing population
          would actually receive less money while Sun Belt cities which were growing
          would receive more. The attempt to change the legislation resulted in a feud
          between representatives from the Northeast and Midwest and Southern and
          Western states.
      b. Urban programs from the 1960s had placed a heavy emphasis on social purposes,
          but increasingly new programs began to stress a different goal: leveraging private
          investments in troubled cities and neighborhoods. In 1978, the Congress
          approved the Urban Development Action Grants program. Over the years,
          UDAG grants were used to build a festival malls, to expand convention centers, to
          build public infrastructure that might leverage private investments, conduct
          repairs to historic buildings, and to support neighborhood improvements. At this
          time, it became apparent that urban policies were retreating from any emphasis at
          all on social, as opposed to economic development, goals. The goal of helping
          the poorest neighborhoods conflicted significantly with the new emphasis on
          private investment. Although federal administrators rarely admitted it, they were
          now urging cities to follow a triage strategy when deciding how to spend block
          grant money: pouring money into deteriorated neighborhoods was a waste since
          they were too far gone to be salvaged. Local governments generally denied that
          they used the triage strategy, since admitting that such a policy was being
           followed would surely encourage protests from people living in the
           neighborhoods being written off as hopeless.
5. Republicans and the End of Federal Assistance
       a. In the campaigns of 1980 and 1984, the Republicans virtually wrote off the
           African-American vote. The Reagan administration also sets out to dismantle
           federal programs designed to help the cities and in eight years it largely
           succeeded. The administration tried to promote urban policies founded on the
           principle that cities should make themselves more attractive to capital investment
           by cutting taxes and offering incentives to spur local economic growth. Reagan
           suggested the residents of cities where unemployment was high should vote with
           their feet and move to more prosperous areas of the country. For the first time
           since national urban policies were first enacted in the 1930s, the judgment was
           made that individual cities were not valuable cultural, social, or economic entities
           except to the degree to which they contributed to the healthy national economy.
           Urban programs gave way to a new priority: tax cuts. The combination of tax
           cuts and massive increases in military spending created huge budget deficits that
           lasted into the late 1990s. Despite his opposition to urban programs, Reagan
           pushed for the passage of legislation meant to stimulate investment in troubled
           inner-city neighborhoods, such as the Urban Enterprise Zone Act, although this
           was not a fresh approach but a logical extension of past policies. Among urban
           programs the only real survivor of the Reagan cuts was the Community
           Development Block Grant program.
       b. In the 1992 election, the Bush campaign refined its racial appeals by resorting to a
           code language used in attacks on cities as a signifier of race and welfare state
           liberalism. Nevertheless, late in his term President Bush made some gestures
           mostly symbolic in the direction of urban policy, especially after rioting broke out
           in Los Angeles in 1992.
6. Political Reality and Urban Policy
       a. Presidential candidate Bill Clinton decided to concentrate on appealing to the
           white suburban middle-class and to assume that inner-city voters would support
           him anyway because they had no place else to go. The logic behind Clinton’s
           suburban strategy was compelling. By the 1990 census, 48% of the nation’s
           population lived in suburbs. In addition, a large proportion of suburban voters
           were so-called Reagan Democrats, blue-collar and middle-class voters who had
           abandoned the party to vote Republican in the three previous presidential
           elections. To bring them back to the fold, Clinton wanted to avoid identifying
           himself with policies that were targeted to cities, especially to blacks. Clinton
           succeeded in winning back many of the white suburban voters who had deserted
           the party in 1980 but still lost the overall white vote. He carried huge pluralities
           and the cities and capturing 82% of the African-American vote was crucial to his
          victory. The only significant new urban initiative that the Clinton administration
          enacted was the empowerment zones/enterprise communities program.
      b. Republicans and many conservatives had pushed for enterprise zones during the
          Reagan and Bush administrations because it was based on strategy of cutting
          taxes and regulations in inner cities with the intention of stimulating investment in
          depressed neighborhoods. The Clinton administration adopted this free-market
          approach and then grafted onto it some Democratic programs for education, job
          training, and child care. The philosophy underlying the empowerment zones
          program proved attractive to members of both parties because it emphasized
          investment and a decentralized administrative style.
      c. After the Republicans won Congress in 1994, the Department of Housing and
          Urban Development came under attack. During the Clinton administration,
          annual housing and urban development spending recovered slightly but this only
          enabled housing and urban development to meet past commitments for housing
          subsidies. Four programs of special interest to city governments, general revenue
          sharing, urban development action grants, local public works, and anti-recession
          fiscal assistance, were zeroed out and eliminated entirely.
      d. The welfare reform bill Clinton signed in August of 1996 also hurt cities by
          ending the 61 year federal entitlement welfare; the Personal Responsibility Act of
          1996 converted Aid to Families with Dependent Children to a block grant run by
          the states.
      e. At the same time, spending for programs benefiting low and moderate income
          people fell while federal assistance to homeowners rose steadily. Homeowner tax
          deductions are tilted toward higher income taxpayers.
      f. The trend in housing expenditures must be understood as only one of a series of
          policies designed to increase government assistance to wealthy households and
          reduce aid for the poor. Tax write-offs for mortgage interest, reduced rates on
          capital gains tax, and capital gains exclusion on home sales all benefit wealthier
          individuals and families.
7. The Political Influence of the Cities
      a. Abandoning urban policy makes sense for Republicans and Democrats alike. In
          the case of Republicans, party leaders have long sought to capitalize on white
          suburbanites’ disaffection from the Democratic sponsored civil rights and anti-
          poverty policies of the 1960s.
      b. The near invisibility of cities in national politics by the 21st-century can be
          explained by a simple fact: today, central city voters accounted for a very small
          percentage of the national electorate. Cities also lost representation in the US
          House of Representatives. It is generally assumed the suburbs now hold the key
          to winning national elections. President Clinton could take the urban base for
          granted since city voters had no other place to go.
      c. However, the suburban voting thesis assumes that suburban residents constitute a
         unified constituency with interests that differ from those of central city residents.
         In fact, however, suburbs are extremely varied. Older, inner ring suburbs have
         more in common with their symptoms cities than with wealthy suburbs on the
         fringe. Inner ring suburbs suffer from declining job bases, high rates of poverty,
         high crime, declining tax bases, and physical stress.
8. Did Urban Programs Accomplish Anything?
      a. The poverty rate fell by exactly half after the social programs of the 1960s were
         enacted, to 22.2% of the population in 1960 all-time low of 11.1% 1973. In the
         1980s when expenditures on programs for the poor were slashed, the poverty rate
         rose steadily, and by 1992 it had rebounded almost to pre-1960 levels.
      b. Some anti-poverty programs worked, such as head start, a federal program
         designed to enhance the skills of poor children before they enter school.
         Medicare and Medicaid improved health care substantially for the elderly and the

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