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Not in my neighborhood : how bigotry shaped…

Not in my neighborhood : how bigotry shaped a great American city (edition 2010)

by Antero Pietila

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583288,407 (4.06)4
Title:Not in my neighborhood : how bigotry shaped a great American city
Authors:Antero Pietila
Info:Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, 2010.
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned

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Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City by Antero Pietila

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    Dropsie Avenue by Will Eisner (alexa_d)
    alexa_d: Dropsie Avenue is a fictionalized graphic novel about the evolution and decay of a single street in New York City over several decades, reflecting the changing demographics and depiciting the forces behind both de facto and de jure segregation of racial and religious minorities.… (more)

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For some reason, I am fascinated by Baltimore. Any drive through streets of once proud but now vacant and crumbling stores, or a walk around Mount Vernon Square, Calvert Street, or environs reveals one of the most incredible collections of great, old architecture you could ask for. Not only that, but ventures into Baltimore's other regions reveal more delights--and horrors. But how did it get that way? This well-written book helps to explain why. It discusses in detail how Baltimore was desegregated neighborhood-by-neighborhood, only to have the presence of the first black homeowners trigger a tidal wave of white flight that was spurred on by real estate developers (blockbusters, actually) who were happy to pay panicked white families less than their property was worth and re-sell it at an inflated price (and with inflated weekly payment terms) to black families trying to find a better place for their kids. Meanwhile, as the city became more and more black, Baltimore County, protected by its own racist politicians, grew precipitously in size, but remained overwhelmingly white. This book depicts a collection of politicians, real estate tycoons (including Joseph Myerhoff, whose name graces the Baltimore Symphony's concert hall), numbers runners, civil rights campaigners, and folks just caught in the middle. It does it with style and with detail. Pietila often names specific house numbers where people moved, and given that it is Baltimore, most of them are still there. You'll find yourself putting down the book, perhaps too often, to take a stroll down a street using Google Maps. Some areas still look amazing. Baltimore is graced by numerous parks and lakes. Other areas have weird gaps and crumbling buildings where it looks like a grenade went off. In other places, things are getting better. There are few cities in America with the history or character of Baltimore. Its story is fascinating, and Pietila does a great job of portraying one aspect of it. ( )
  datrappert | Aug 22, 2018 |
This is a very well researched book about how race relations affected the demographics of Baltimore during the twentieth century.

I was first curious to read this book because I grew up in Baltimore, having been brought there by my parents in 1948 as an eight-month old infant and lived there through the time I left the city in 1968. I always lived in a mostly Jewish neighborhood, and never thought much about it. I just assumed that Jewish refugees of Nazi Germany who ended up living in Baltimore simply wanted to live near people they knew. What I didn't know for the entire time I lived in Baltimore was how race and religion were deeply embedded (even legally, in the beginning) in real estate sales. By this, I mean that blacks and Jews were actively prohibited from buying real estate in areas that were white and gentile. I also experienced firs-hand the white flight that took place among Jews when a black family would move into the neighborhood.

This book clarified for me the term redlining, in which real estate agents would color code single blocks on a Baltimore map to determine the price of a house by whether or not it was in a black or Jewish neighborhood rather than by the condition of the house. I was already familiar with the term blockbusting, but never knew that it had originally been against the law to do this (e.g. have a black family move into a white block or vice versa). Black families living in a neighborhood caused home price values to go down. Jewish families were considered just one step above black families in this respect.

I found the whole subject of this book mortifying. When I now return to Baltimore from the diverse community in which I currently live, I feel as if I'm entering a time warp. I pretty much agree with what the author learned from his research except that I don't agree with the author's premise at the end of the book. He basically intimated that because the "mutt" (biracial) Barack Obama, had been elected president in 2008, we entered in a new era of race relations. I would love for that to be true, but I don't believe we're anywhere close to that now nor will we be any time in the near future. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Sep 23, 2017 |
xiii, 320 p., photos
  BmoreMetroCouncil | Feb 9, 2017 |
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Baltimore is not usually a prominent part of the American urban narrative. It should be. In 1910 the city enacted the first law in American history that prohibited blacks from moving to white residential blocks, and vice versa. (p. x)
The Supreme Court's unanimous 1917 decision in Buchanan vrs. Warley nullified the Louisville segregation law and Baltimore's as well. It supported an owner's right to sell real estate to whomever he or she wished, even if that person was black and a local law prohibited such a transaction. (p. 31)
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Baltimore is the setting for (and typifies) one of the most penetrating examinations of bigotry and residential segregation ever published in the United States. Antero Pietila shows how continued discrimination practices toward African Americans and Jews have shaped the cities in which we now live. Eugenics, racial thinking, and white supremacist attitudes influenced even the federal government's actions toward housing in the 20th century, dooming American cities to ghettoization. This all-American tale is told through the prism of Baltimore, from its early suburbanization in the 1880s to the consequences of "white flight" after World War II, and into the first decade of the twenty-first century. The events are real, and so are the heroes and villains. Mr. Pietila's engrossing story is an eye-opening journey into city blocks and neighborhoods, shady practices, and ruthless promoters.… (more)

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