Working Class and Suburbia

Seminar in Chicago on Dec 6

The Newberry Library Labor History Seminar co-sponsored by the University of Illinois at Chicago and Urbana.

"How the Suburbs Saved the City: A Reconsideration of Working-Class Housing in the Metropolitan Region"
Joseph Bigott
Purdue University Calumet
December 6, 2002, 3:00-5:00 pm

After World War II, most working-class Chicagoans avoided conflict in "racially" changing neighborhoods by moving to newer neighborhoods. This pattern was established early in the twentieth century when an abundance of land and increasing levels of affluence allowed working-class immigrants to segregate, avoid the harshest forms of conflict, and adjust to social change at a slower pace. Without question, racism was a major factor in American urban life. Rage and hatred existed in some working-class neighborhoods. However, this residential transformation began to occur well before the arrival of large numbers of African-Americans in Chicago. My paper will outline an alternative interpretation of affluence and racial change in metropolitan Chicago. It will show that immigrant, working-class populations such as the Poles avoided racial conflict for most of the twentieth century by developing remote, segregated areas within the metropolitan region. A majority of working-class neighborhoods changed slowly, without conflict because a younger generation could afford to move out and buy newer houses.

E-mail or call to receive a copy of the paper. We prefer to send papers as e-mail attachments. Please include your e-mail address with all correspondence. The seminar format assumes that all participants have read the essay in advance, and that those requesting the paper will attend the seminar.

Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.

We encourage faculty members to call the seminar to the attention of graduate students. The full schedule for this and other Scholl Center seminars is available at the website.

Contact information:

Rebekah Holmes
Scholl Center for Family and Community History
Newberry Library
60 W. Walton St.
Chicago, IL 60610
Phone: 312-255-3524
Fax: 312-255-3696
Seminar website: