Emergent Ghettos: Black Neighborhoods in New York and Chicago, 1880-1940

John R. Logan, Brown University
Weiwei Zhang, Brown University
Miao David Chunyu, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

This study revisits and revises the widely held view that before the Great Migration blacks in the urban North did not experience the segregating processes that later created black ghettos. It relies on both new and rarely used data sources to study segregation in New York and Chicago in the period 1880 and 1940. Crucially 1880 census records have been geocoded to specific addresses. Hence segregation patterns and processes can be studied at any geographic scale. It is shown that segregation was much higher at an earlier time than was previously reported, that blacks were unusually highly isolated in 1880 given their small share of the total population, that neither higher class standing nor Northern birth had much effect on whether blacks lived within or outside black neighborhoods in 1880 or 1940, and that a trend toward class separation within black neighborhoods was in evidence already in 1880.

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Presented in Session 63: Migration, Neighborhoods and Segregation