Richard Wright, Introduction to Black Metropolis (Drake and Horace Cayton, 1945)
“Chicago is the known city; perhaps more is known about it, how it is run, how it kills, how it loves, steals, helps, gives, cheats and crushes than any other city in the world. Chicago is a new city; it grew to be bigger in one hundred years than did Paris in two thousand.”
By 1945, the second largest African American city in the world and probably the most segregated—still true today.
Reasons Blacks Looked North: “The Promised Land”
The living conditions of blacks did not significantly improve after the Civil War.
Sharecropping led to debt peonage.
Plessy vs. Ferguson Case – 1896
Changes in southern agriculture
The Great Migration to Chicago:1890-1960 (especially 1940-1960)
Chicago Population Growth: 1890-1960
Physical Ghetto: The First Black Ghetto, 1890-1945
When the Black migrants began to come to Chicago in large numbers during World War I, there wasn’t a huge problem with segregation. As the Black population increased Whites began to close the housing market off to Blacks. These White reactions created a physical ghetto.
By the end of World War II, Black population approaching 10%; drastic overcrowding of ghetto, landlords subdividing buildings into kitchenettes. All social classes crammed together.
The Making of the Second Ghetto:1945-1960: Hirsch
Conflicts as Black residents tried to move into adjacent neighborhoods: white rioting. Blockbusting and violence.