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A Nation of NeighborhoodsImagining Cities, Communities, and Democracy in Postwar America$
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Benjamin Looker

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226073989

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226290454.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 03 August 2021

The Specter of Blight

The Specter of Blight

The Neighborhood under Siege

(p.70) Three The Specter of Blight
A Nation of Neighborhoods

Benjamin Looker

University of Chicago Press

Within a few years, these conflicted yet intermittently progressive neighborhood aspirations were muscled from the stage. Through the 1950s, powerful real-estate interests inflamed fears of steadily advancing neighborhood blight. Across the postwar decades, chapter 3 relates, media images proliferated of the city neighborhood as an encampment under siege. These popular narratives, in turn, drew upon a body of real-estate theory that suggested the near-inevitability of urban neighborhood decline. But, working against dominant theories on decay's causes, numerous African-American civic organizations developed grassroots anti-blight campaigns, aimed at discrediting ingrained white suppositions about the link between black residency and neighborhood decay. As this chapter concludes, the contending neighborhood narratives in anti-blight drives of the 1950s simultaneously stoked white fear and white flight and foreshadowed more aggressive drives for community equality in the decade ahead.

Keywords:   blight, decay, decline, real-estate, neighborhood, theory, integration, African-American

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