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How Was The Ghetto Created History Essay

Info: 3699 words (15 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 2015 in History

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Ghetto (an area in Venice; from 1516 it was an isolated place of Jews residence) is the area of big city, where ethnic minorities live, voluntarily or forcibly, in a more or less stringent conditions (Jargowsky. 1998).

In the U.S. the word “ghetto” is often used in the reference to the cities, populated by minorities (such as African Americans, Latinos, Hispanics, etc.).

The most common phenomenon is a black ghetto; it is more spread all over the United States. Talking about a black ghetto, which is known as the hood or the inner city, we mean the part of an American city where almost everyone is black. Usually most ghettos are poor, but not all of them. For example, there are some black parts of Queens in New York, which are richer than some of the white parts there.

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For a lot of people who live in black ghettos, racism seems like something important. All institutions, such as the police, the schools, the courts, the hospitals, the mass media, and the housing market seem to be based on the idea that the life of the black man life is not important at all. All things are second-rate or some kind of broken (A Raisin in the Sun.1961).

So, when whites see a black ghetto they imagine drug dealers, hookers, crack heads, bad fathers, poor people, and so on. In some way it is true, but still such ghettos are part of a larger American society.

Here is an example: may be there are people who are sure that city services are the same all over the city. It is not so. The services are worse in black ghettos. So, even in the black middle-class parts of a city it is not so great. Such things like trash pick-up, ambulance service, street repair, schools and police protection are not controlled by ghetto (Black Ghetto. 2008).

Talking about the ghettos of America, I should mention about the vivid and bright example of the ghetto in Detroit, Michigan.

Detroit is a city on the north of the U.S., in Michigan. It is located in the southeastern side of the state, on the Detroit River, on the border with Canada.

It was founded on the 24th of July, 1701 by French manager Lome Antoine de la Mont Cadillac as the place for the fur trade with the Indians. Currently it is a big automotive industry center.

Over the past 40 years, because of the exodus of white residents and the influx of blacks, the population declined more than doubled from 1,849,568 in 1950 to 886,671 in 2005, and with suburbs it is 4.4 million people (Shaw. 2009).

According to Forbes rating, Detroit is the most dysfunctional city in the U.S.

Detroit has the highest crime rates in the U.S., the city has the second highest number of unemployed and there is a bad environment.

The second place ranking the ten worst cities was taken by city Stockton (Calif.), third – Flint (Michigan). The fourth line of the rating took New York. Fifth – Philadelphia, the sixth – Chicago, while the seventh – Los Angeles (Badenhausen. 2008).

Currently, the bulk of the city is almost completely destroyed and burnt by blacks who live there. The adjacent to the Detroit industrial zones constitute a major auto industry center.

Detroit and its suburbs is one of the main centers of Arab Americans population resettlement. Also there are the headquarters of General Motors in Detroit; the headquarters of Ford Motor Company are in the suburbs of Detroit, in Dearborn; and in Auburn Hills there is a head office of Chrysler.

But not everything is so great in Detroit. Just now this city is in ruins and seems to be like one big ghetto. There are 80,000 abandoned buildings; 75 out of Detroit’s 135 square miles are abandoned. 1 person out of 47 is homeless. The median home price is $ 6,000. The unemployment rate is officially 29%, but is estimated at near 50%. Unsolved murder rate is of 70%. There is the lowest high school graduation rate in the country, which is only 21% (Shaw. 2009).

Studying the history of the Detroit ghetto and trying to understand the reasons of creation the ghetto, there is a need to start from the very beginning of the Detroit’s history.

The name the city has received from the Detroit River. Sometime in the 17th century traveling up the Detroit River on the ship La Sall, a Catholic priest Louis Hennepin noted that the northern coast was ideal for the settlement. Here in 1701, Antoine de La Mothe Lome-Kadiyyak with a group of 51 French Canadians founded the Fort Detroit. By 1765 the white population of Detroit was 800 people; s it was one of the largest French settlements in America at that time, the same as Montreal and St. Louis. However, in 1760 and Montreal, and Detroit had surrendered to the British and became a part of the British colonial empire (Jargowsky. 1997).

In 1763, the fort was besieged by rebelled Indians of Pontiac. The British government forbade the English colonists to found new settlements to the west of the Appalachian Mountains, which led to the American Revolution. After the revolution, Detroit has long remained a Canadian town and moved to the U.S. only in 1796. In 1805 the most part of Detroit was burned in a fire.

From 1805 to 1847 Detroit was the capital of the territory, and then the new state of Michigan. At that time its population increased greatly. In 1812 it was again occupied by the British during the Anglo-American War (1812-1815); a year later it was recaptured by the Americans and was granted the city status in 1815 (Katzman. 1975).

Before the Civil War, Detroit was one of the key points of the “underground railroad” which was used by black slaves to go from the U.S. to Canada. During the war, many citizens as volunteers joined the army of northerners. George Armstrong Custer formed the famous “Michigan Brigade” of them.

Many buildings and mansions of the city were built in the late 19th – early 20 century, when Detroit came to “gilded age”. At that time it was called “Paris of the West” for the splendid architecture and Washington Boulevard, brightly lit by Edison bulbs. The advantageous location on the waterway of the Great Lakes made the city a major transportation hub. The basis of the urban economy in the middle of the 19th century was the shipbuilding. At the end of that century, the emergence of cars inspired Henry Ford to build its own models and Ford Motor Company (1904). Ford factory, Durand, brethren Dodge, Packard and Chrysler have made Detroit the automotive capital of the world (Zunz. 2000).

During the “dry law” the smugglers used the river for transportation the alcoholic beverages from Canada. In the 1930s with the advent of trade unions Detroit became the scene of fighting union workers with automotive employers. In the 1940s there was built one of the first American highways M-8 through the city, and due to economic boom since the Second World War, Detroit was called “the arsenal of democracy”. The rapid economic growth in the first half of 2oth century was accompanied by the influx of population from the southern states (mostly black) and Europe. Although discrimination in hiring (and it was strong enough) was fragile, but there still were the problems, and this led to racial riots of 1943, in which 34 people were killed (25 of them were black) (Hilfiker. 2003).

In the 50s of 20th century, Detroit was one of the major engineering centers in the U.S. and at that time it promoted the program budget and public vehicles. The country’s largest car factories (Ford, General Motors and Chrysler) were focused in Detroit and the city experienced a boom in its development, becoming one of the richest cities in North America. Since the mid 20-ies with the development of automobile industry a large number of private cars appeared in the city. Detroit became one of the first cities where a network of expressways highways and road junctions were built. On the other hand, the public transportation system was not developed. In contrast, automobile corporations lobbied the elimination of tram and trolleybus lines. At the same time there was a campaign that touted the acquisition of a personal car, so the public transport was not prestigious as it was “for the poor.” Such spread of personal vehicles influenced the relocation of population from the center of Detroit to its suburbs. And then there was an oil crisis, and after the crisis a small, fuel-efficient Japanese cars appeared. They were not like the classic American big cars which needed a lot of gasoline. And the companies began to go bankrupt one after another. Factories were closed. Elegant skyscrapers happened to be without the owner and are abandoned, gradually eroded.

It was possible to see such a picture: a 30-storey building with broken windows, broken walls of which the trees grow. And on the opposite side there was a flourishing and elegant, luxurious pretentious live store. On one hand there were the lighted windows and on the other – buildings with the holes from stones, debris and crap inside.

Skilled workers began to disperse, the cost of real estate was falling and a free place quickly began to gather a crowd of blacks who were living thanks to the unemployment benefit. That time there were left in fact only two large companies – General Motors and Daimler Chrysler. The life was active around them and there were alive some parts of suburbs. The rest part of the city was frankly frightening.

The outflow of the white population, which started in 1950, continued in the next decade. By the way, it was strengthened by the fact that in many institutions, including schools, there was the abolition of racial segregation. More and more representatives of the middle class sold their homes in the city and went to the suburbs; so only those who could not afford to move were left in the city, such as lumpens, unemployed or low-paid workers, etc. The centers of large cities were rapidly turning black. The culmination was in July 1967, when confrontation between whites and blacks resulted in some of the most violent riots in U.S. history, which lasted for five days, and became known as the turmoil on 12th street (the12th Street Riot).

So, ultimately, the population of Detroit in its administrative borders decreased from 1.8 million in early 1950 to 950 thousand by the end of 1990. Since the most creditworthy people moved away, the financial problems began in the city. This spurred the departure of remaining there the middle class. Jobs were disappearing, shops / banks / doctors were beginning to move there, where there was an effective demand. Racial clashes began to happen more often. It was the time when Martin Luther King, Black Panther (1966) and other appeared. By the 1990’s, Detroit has got the notoriety as one of the “black” and dangerous cities in the U.S. All these events influenced the appearance of ghettos on Detroit (Ford. 2006).

According to U.S. Census Bureau, in 2005, there were 11% of the white population and 82% black in Detroit, and there is one of the biggest ghettos in the USA (Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000).

Detroit takes the first place in the list of the most destroyed cities of the USA. In addition to the exodus of white people, blacks created a tradition called the “Devil’s Night” that has spread to other cities. It is a custom to burn and destroyed the parts of the city at the night before Halloween.

A huge non-white population, combined with annual arson, bankruptcy, crime and decay, turned Detroit, which was the center of the U.S. automobile industry, in the ruins comparable to the ruins of ancient civilizations. One of the reasons is the creation of black ghettos in Detroit; the replacement of white people that built the city, by a new black population.

The decline of Detroit followed the demographic change that has transformed Detroit from a prosperous white city into a criminal and a poor black city, which is living thanks to the government subsidies, assistance and gifts of corporations operating in a spirit of righteous atonement to the Negroes (Anyon. 1997).

The lack of support and vandalism continue to turn much of Detroit in more and more broken down place every year. As a patient with chronic disease dangerous for life, but who is wearing a nice suit, well-groomed nails, artificial development of the center of Detroit comes against the backdrop of a coming day when cranes and bulldozers will demolish the bad end of the former living and dying factory areas, which occupy a large part of the city.

Michigan Central Station which is situated in ghetto was the main in the state. Today it has become a huge multi-storey ruin, since the white people long gone from here. It stands as a monument to a terrible life in the former white town. Now it is an unused skeleton, possibly is one of the most illustrative examples of the destruction of the once great city.

The life of ghetto shows that the more blacks are there, the higher crime level is. And, as a consequence, there is the mass exodus of whites from the city. The main factors that led whites to leave their situations of displacement were the domestic violence on the streets and in schools their children attended. In the result of the spread of tolerance and integration, blacks began to arrive from distant parts of the city in white areas and schools, where they attacked passers-by, killed, robbed, beaten white children in schools. They were allowed, and any retaliatory actions of white in their defense were understood as racist and were cruelly punished by the courts.

Ghettos exist not only in Detroit, but in other big cities.

New York. According to official census figures for 2000, the white population of New York is 44%. In 1981, in Harlem, there were officially registered 6500 cases of robbery (How New York Cut Crime. 2002).

At the beginning of the 21st century the situation with crime in Harlem had not improved. So in April 2006, a white student at New York University was killed in Harlem by black teens who pursued him shouting “Grab a white”.

Another hotbed of crime in New York is Bronx district, directly across the river from Harlem. The unchecked influx of immigrants from South America since the mid 1960’s led to increased crime, drugs and murder. The white population again as in other cities fled from their homes and inhabited neighborhoods. According to official census figures for 2000, the white population of the Bronx was 23% (Thabit. 2005).

Chicago is also famous for its ghettos. According to the 2000 census, non-white population of Chicago is equal to 68%. The white population was concentrated in the suburbs and the central and main part of the city was abandoned at the mercy of blacks and other minorities (Warren. 2008).

When in 1970 the government began construction of entire residential areas for blacks and other minorities in the white areas, where the middle class lived, and children of blacks began to attend school, the white population began to hastily sell their houses because of the deteriorating quality of life and worsening crime situation in the school attended by their children. Property prices have fallen sharply, the whites left, and their place was taken by blacks. All this happened within a few short years (Hirsch. 1998).

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Philadelphia is also known for its ghettos. According to the 2000 census, non-white population of Philadelphia was equal to 58%. The white population was concentrated in the suburbs and the central and main part of the city as well as in other cities, was abandoned on the arbitrariness of blacks and other minorities; the decline and collapse came there. The reason was the same: the disappearance of the white population. The northern part of Philadelphia is almost completely color: Afro-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Pakistanis and Arabs. Most people in this part of the city live below the poverty line, and crime is spread in their neighborhoods (Weale. 2009).

Washington also has ghettos. According to official census figures for 2000, non-white population of Washington was 60%. The white population was forced to move far beyond the line of American capital in Maryland and northern Virginia. At night the white people are almost absent in the city center.

By the brilliance of the White House, the Capitol and monuments, there is hiding the real situation of the city. 2/3 of the city population is non-white, so robberies, drugs, murders are committed by blacks every day. But all this is left unsaid in the official media, in order to give Washington a decent view of the nation’s capital (Jacoby. 2000).

St. Louis has the same problem. According to official census figures for 2000, non-white population of St. Louis was 57%. The same as the other American cities, St. Louis was unable to avoid the loss of the white population, which in the second half of 20th century took out of the city to the suburbs. This again was caused by the growth of the Negro population, creation of ghettos and the attendant increase of crime and chaos in the residential neighborhoods (Ford. 2006).

Sir Peter Hall, the professor at University College London, Honorary Member of the Royal Institute of Urban Development, a member of the British Academy said that in American cities, racial ghettos have been existed for decades. But now we increasingly see the selection in the ghetto not by the color of skin or nationality, but income level. For example, in South African cities (Johannesburg), Latin America (Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires), the rich are increasingly separated from the poor, building really high fences. In the USA, the rising price of real estate most of the social housing goes to people with very low incomes. And they build the border between rich and poor, growing social tensions among these groups (Venkatesh. 2002).

Here is the real situation in nowadays ghetto in the USA. The employees of Brookings Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley describe the deplorable state of affairs in Detroit which looks like a ghetto nowadays. For 60 years the population declined in more than 2 times, to 900 000 people. One-third of the city is abandoned; it is 80 000 houses. Between depressive core part of the city, where up to 90% of the population is black, and the suburbs, where there are mainly whites live, the huge wasteland was formed. Such segregation is not found anywhere else in America, but only in Detroit ghetto.

The unemployment has reached 28%, corruption is widespread, and public services are deteriorating. The answer to the 911 call people have to wait for 20 minutes. The city can not establish even a normal bus service: it is referred to the conduct of several municipal districts that can not agree on how to deal with such issues. Last year, Detroit has received more than $ 18 billion of federal money, but it was used in the wrong way.

So, ghetto (the cities or the parts of the cities, which are populated by minorities) can be found all over the United States. The most vivid examples of ghettos are Detroit, New York, Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia and some other big cities. The reasons of ghetto appearance are usually poor economy and the abolition of racial segregation. White population leaves their houses in the central part of a city because the violence committed by blacks is spread all over and it is dangerous to live in the area. At the same time the representatives of minorities move to the central parts of the cities, but it usually has a negative impact on the economy and standard of living. Nowadays ghetto is a part of American life and the amount of ghettos will only increase in the nearest future.

Work Cited:

Anyon, Jean. Ghetto Schooling: A Political Economy of Urban Educational Reform. (1997). p. 45. Print.

A Raisin in the Sun. Movie. Columbia Pictures Corporation. Chicago, Illinois, USA. (1961). DVD.

Badenhausen, Kurt. Worst Places. America’s Most Miserable Cities. Forbes. (January 30, 2008). Retrieved from http://www.blogcatalog.com/blog/detroits-ghetto/927ebeaf31c467ec9aaf4678f1120026

Black Ghetto. (2008). Retrieved from http://abagond.wordpress.com/2008/08/13/black-ghetto/

Ford, Tierre F. The Products of the American Ghetto. (2006). p. 15. Print.

Hilfiker, David., Edelman, Marian Wright. Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen. (2003). p. 47. Print.

Hirsch, Arnold R. Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago 1940-1960 (Historical Studies of Urban America). (1998). pp. 36-38. Print.

How New York Cut Crime. Reform Magazine. (2002). p.11. Print.

Jacoby, Tamar. Someone Else’s House: America’s Unfinished Struggle for Integration. (2000). p. 32. Print.

Jargowsky, Paul A. Poverty and Place: Ghettos, Barrios, and the American City. (1998). p. 28. Print.

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Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000. U.S. Census Bureau, Census. (2000). Retrieved from http://www.hellodetroit.com/Census.Cfm

Shaw, Todd C. Now Is the Time!: Detroit Black Politics and Grassroots Activism. (2009). p. 54. Print.

Thabit, Walter., Piven, Frances Fox. How East New York Became a Ghetto. (2005). p. 78. Print.

Venkatesh, Sudhir Alladi., Wilson, William Julius. American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto. (2002). p. 74. Print.

Warren, Ronald. Politics and African-American Ghettos. (2008). p. 16. Print.

Weale, Belinda Guest. Ghetto Revival. (2009). p. 42. Print.

Zunz, Olivier. The Changing Face of Inequality: Urbanization, Industrial Development, and Immigrants in Detroit, 1880-1920. (2000). pp. 26-28. Print.


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