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  #1  
Old Posted Feb 15, 2018, 10:20 PM
Docere Docere is online now
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Who participated in "white flight"?

Well, white people obviously. But more specifically, it's most closely associated with working class Catholic ethnics in Northeastern and Midwestern cities who became Reagan Democrats.

My feeling is that there are different "eras" of white flight, with Jewish and middle class white flight occurring more in the immediate postwar era (say 1945 to the early 1960s) while Catholic and working class took off more in the late 1960s/1970s.
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Old Posted Feb 15, 2018, 10:34 PM
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my parents white-flighted out of rogers park (far northside chicago) to suburban wilmette in the mid-70s right before i was born, my sister was 3 at the time.

and though my parents are both catholic, both of them are college educated (though my dad was the first person in his family to achieve that) and our family was solidly middle class, with my parents eventually bordering on upper middle class due to their sick real estate deal in wilmette. they bought the house i grew up in in 1975 for $29,000. they sold it in 2005 for $675,000. i'd say that's a pretty decent return for 30 years of home ownership.

and i myself white-flighted back into the city as an adult, and have been here ever since as one of the legions of suburban white kids who've taken to city living and have gentrified the hell out of large swaths of chicago.

no matter where us white people go, we're always the problem, apparently.
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Old Posted Feb 15, 2018, 10:40 PM
IrishIllini IrishIllini is offline
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
my parents white-flighted out of rogers park (far northside chicago) to suburban wilmette in the mid-70s right before i was born, my sister was 3 at the time.

and though my parents are both catholic, both of them are college educated (though my dad was the first person in his family to ever achieve that) and our family was solidly middle class, with my parents eventually bordering on upper middle class due to their sick real estate deal in wilmette. they bought the house i grew up in in 1975 for $29,000. they sold it in 2005 for $675,000. i'd say that's a pretty decent return for 30 years of ownership.
This could be my parents but 20 years later, ha. They still own their house though and it's definitely not worth $675k.

My dad's family stayed in the city, but my maternal grandparents initially moved to the edge (literally Edgebrook) sometime in the late 50s and then a few years after that moved about 4-5 blocks to the north into suburban Lincolnwood. My grandpa's family has lived in Illinois since the late 1800s, I believe. He's catholic, but not really "ethnic"...His parents were British and Irish but born in the US...
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Old Posted Feb 15, 2018, 10:46 PM
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What would be some of the reasons for white flight? Want for more space and independence in the suburbs, bad race relations with incoming blacks from the great migrations, other factors, and/or a collection of these?
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Old Posted Feb 15, 2018, 10:55 PM
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What would be some of the reasons for white flight? Want for more space and independence in the suburbs, bad race relations with incoming blacks from the great migrations, other factors, and/or a collection of these?
in my parent's case, rogers park, specifically the part they were living in at the time in north rogers park near howard street, was becoming more black in the 70s, but my mom has told me the main reason they moved is that they were sick of renting an apartment and finally had enough money to buy a single family home with a yard. they looked at houses in rogers park, evanston, and wilmette, and just happened to fall in love with the wilmette house and recognized it as pretty good deal so they felt like they had to pounce on it. it turns out they were smart to do that. despite what she says, i still have to believe race at least played a supporting role in their decision, even if she's too progressive-minded to admit it.

incidentally, rogers park never saw full-scale white flight. it's one of the rare chicago neighborhoods that saw an influx of black and then latino residents throughout the 60s/70s/80s/90s, but the white population never abandoned it en masse. even today, the racial break down of rogers park is pretty remarkable given chicago's notorious racial segregation seen in most other neighborhoods across the city.

rogers park 2015:

white- 42%
black - 24%
latino - 24%
asian/other - 10%
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Last edited by Steely Dan; Feb 16, 2018 at 1:34 PM.
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Old Posted Feb 15, 2018, 11:46 PM
IrishIllini IrishIllini is offline
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
in my parent's case, rogers park, specifically the part they were living in at the time in north rogers park near howard street, was becoming more black in the 70s, but my mom has told me the main reason they moved is that they were sick of renting an apartment and finally had enough money to buy a single family home with a yard. they looked at houses in rogers park, evanston, and wilmette, and just happened to fall in love with the wilmette house and recognized it as pretty good deal so they felt like they had to pounce on it. it turns out they were smart to do that. despite what she says, i still have to believe race at least played a supporting role in their decision, even if she's too progressive-minded to admit it.

incidentally, rogers park never saw full-scale white flight. it's one of the rare chicago neighborhoods that saw an influx of black and then latino residents throughout the 60s/70s/80s/90s, but the white population never abandoned it en masse. even today, the racial break down of rogers park is pretty remarkable given chicago's notorious racial segregation seen in most other neighborhoods across the city.

rogers park 2010:

white- 40%
black - 25%
latino - 25%
asian/other - 10%
Rogers Park has an interesting history. I think it's trending towards more white these days. At least E. Rogers Park.
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  #7  
Old Posted Feb 16, 2018, 4:16 AM
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A lot of it had to do with rising crime inside of the cities. The writer Norman Podhoretz wrote a long piece back in 1963 about the Jewish experience in NYC in particular, and a lot of it was about crime - certain groups were seen as easy "marks" for muggings and robberies, and it became unsafe to walk around after dark. This is tracked to an extent in the rise in the US national murder rate over time, which increased every single year from 1963 to 1974 (from 4.6 murders per 100,000 to 9.8).
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2018, 4:25 AM
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A lot of it had to do with rising crime inside of the cities. The writer Norman Podhoretz wrote a long piece back in 1963 about the Jewish experience in NYC in particular, and a lot of it was about crime - certain groups were seen as easy "marks" for muggings and robberies, and it became unsafe to walk around after dark.
Podhoertz hailed from Brownsville, which was a poor Jewish neighborhood that rapidly transitioned to poor black from about 1955-1965.

White Flight is a complicated phenomenon, but there were both push and pull factors. Rising crime, racism (or simply racial division), worsening schools, deteriorating services and fear of lowered property values were all push factors.

But white flight also coincided with huge income gains and almost unmatched rises in living standards. So whites were pulled to newer, bigger homes in the suburbs. To take the Brownsville example, secular Jews were no longer poor, so why would they stay in public housing complexes (which is like 40% of Brownsville and which were very Jewish until about 1960)?
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2018, 4:27 AM
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I admit I expect a lot of humorous commentary here from people too young to have much real idea what they are talking about. Unlike them, I actually remember when my family moved to the surburbs (in 1949) and have a pretty good idea why. And beyond that, I remember well what lead up to the "civil rights era" and what took place during it.

For the rest of you, your assignment for tonight is to Google George P. Mahoney.
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  #10  
Old Posted Feb 16, 2018, 4:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Docere View Post
My feeling is that there are different "eras" of white flight, with Jewish and middle class white flight occurring more in the immediate postwar era (say 1945 to the early 1960s) while Catholic and working class took off more in the late 1960s/1970s.
The WASPs and Jews left first, because they could. The white ethnics were working class and couldn't just sell their homes at a loss. They had to fight back to protect their investments (or at least that's the counterargument to "it was just racism").

Detroit provides a good example. The West Side has always been the wealthier, nicer side. It experieced white flight much earlier than the East Side, because the WASPs and Jews were all on the West Side. The impressive brick homes of NW Detroit underwent racial transition 20-30 years before the modest bungalows of NE Detroit did the same.

You see the same phenomenon in the suburbs. NW suburbs are much wealthier than East Side suburbs, though also much blacker. Wealthy West Bloomfield has some majority black public schools, while some very working class East Side suburbs have almost no blacks. Cleveland has the same phenomenon, but sides reversed.
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  #11  
Old Posted Feb 16, 2018, 5:11 AM
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White flight took place all over the country starting after WW2 in the rush to the suburbs or suburban areas from crowded inner city neighborhoods. Many of these new neighborhoods were still technically within the boundaries of the inner city. Other neighborhoods were located in what is now considered to be "inner ring suburbs". This peaked in the 1950s and 60s. It was not just limited to northeastern and midwestern cities. This was probably more pronounced in those cities with large black populations where "block busting" real estate tactics created near panic selling among whites who did not want to live in integrated neighborhoods for reasons associated with racial prejudice, crime, and reduced property values. It accelerated greatly into ever more outlying areas following the court ordered imposition of school busing to achieve racial integration in the public schools. This was well underway by the 1970s. White enrollment in inner city schools began a steep decline, and it became common for most middle class white families with school age children to decamp to outer areas at that time. Existing neighborhoods in inner cities, many of them post war suburban style neighborhoods, changed dramatically. Most of the whites remaining in those neighborhoods were elderly or single. Immigration from non European countries also picked up steam during that period. Many of these older neighborhoods became ethnic enclaves for new arrivals from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. This was certainly true in large Texas cities like Dallas and Houston and their inner ring suburbs, and I suspect something similar played out all across the country. Meanwhile, the public school systems in most large cities lost its traditional middle class constituency. Rich kids still living in inner cities now mostly attend private schools.

Last edited by austlar1; Feb 16, 2018 at 5:34 AM.
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2018, 5:18 AM
Docere Docere is online now
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By the time "second generation" white flight (more Catholic, more working class) had taken off around 1970 or so, you were also starting to see the beginning of the "back to the city" movement among a sliver of college-educated professionals (although it was quite limited to a few enclaves for another generation).
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2018, 5:19 AM
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Originally Posted by austlar1 View Post
White flight took place all over the country starting after WW2 in the rush to the suburbs or suburban areas from crowded inner city neighborhoods in the 1950s and 60s. It was not just limited to northeastern and midwestern cities. It accelerated greatly following the court ordered imposition of school busing to achieve racial integration in the public schools. This was well underway by the 1970s. White enrollment in inner city schools began a steep decline, and it became common for white families with school age children to decamp to outer areas at that time. Many existing neighborhoods in inner cities, many of them post war suburban style neighborhoods, changed dramatically. Most of the whites remaining in those neighborhoods were elderly or single. Immigration from non European countries also picked up steam during that period. Many of these older neighborhoods became ethnic enclaves for new arrivals from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. This was certainly true in large Texas cities like Dallas and Houston, and I suspect something similar played out all across the country.
I agree with this and want to add that here was a fear that if a neighborhood had black people in it, it would soon be "red lined" and your property would be unsellable (to coin a term). The federal agencies at the time were several times more racist than they are now. *disclaimer, I work at a federal agency*
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2018, 5:20 AM
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Cleveland has the same phenomenon, but sides reversed.
Ironically, the West Side is now the "better side" of Cleveland, not so much because it's particularly affluent but just because the East Side has deteriorated so much. The eastern suburbs are more affluent than the western suburbs though.
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2018, 6:03 AM
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my parents left new york city in the late 60s for upstate new york, and then richardson (dallas), texas, and then san jose. white flight was part of it - new york approaching the 70s was going downhill fast in some ways, but it was also a question of economic opportunity. silicon valley was where it was at for a young engineer.

by the time i studied architecture and became an urban enthusiast, my dad's response to "let's go to new york" was "why would i want to go back to that sh1thole."

he never really changed his mind about that (although he loved the big japanese cities) but he did humor me from time to time for vacations in new york and eventually to visit me in san francisco, even appreciating just a little bit the pleasures of urban living. it took 35 years!
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2018, 6:06 AM
ThePhun1 ThePhun1 is offline
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I know of some towns in SoCal that have black flight.
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2018, 6:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
in my parent's case, rogers park, specifically the part they were living in at the time in north rogers park near howard street, was becoming more black in the 70s, but my mom has told me the main reason they moved is that they were sick of renting an apartment and finally had enough money to buy a single family home with a yard. they looked at houses in rogers park, evanston, and wilmette, and just happened to fall in love with the wilmette house and recognized it as pretty good deal so they felt like they had to pounce on it. it turns out they were smart to do that. despite what she says, i still have to believe race at least played a supporting role in their decision, even if she's too progressive-minded to admit it.
That’s really interesting. I don’t know enough about white flight, but in general neighborhood change and “gentrification” have been found to happen in similar ways. We have a tendency to think of neighborhoods being occupied by a static set of households but in reality there’s a constant churn.

And it’s often not that groups just up and leave so much as the same amount of “churn” continues while the composition of the flow changes. So maybe 5% of residents move every year already, but in a time of change that’s 5% low-income residents leaving and higher-income residents taking their places. Even more interestingly, as a neighborhood gentrifies low-income residents who become more wealthy for normal life-cycle reasons are less likely to leave than they were before, and so “gentrify” their own neighborhood.

White flight was obviously more dramatic but I wouldn’t be surprised if the moving rate wasn’t that much higher than normal (even very stable neighborhoods have churn of 3-5%). So I think it’s perfectly plausible that many white residents who left would’ve left regardless for normal reasons, but just weren’t replaced.
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2018, 10:40 AM
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I know of some towns in SoCal that have black flight.
I don’t get the sense that “black flight” is at all similar to white flight. I.e., it does not have the same underlying causes and motivations.
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2018, 12:38 PM
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I don’t get the sense that “black flight” is at all similar to white flight. I.e., it does not have the same underlying causes and motivations.
Yes and no.

Some blacks were driven away by other people, especially Latinos, because of fear or annoyance. I wouldn't say that's all that different.
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2018, 2:27 PM
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It seems most everyone here is forgetting about one of the most visible causes of white flight during the mid to late 1960's, that being the infamous race riots that occurred in quite a number of cities from coast to coast. While it wasn't the underlying cause itself, per say, the riots were a direct result of the underlying causes (essentially direct as well as indirect racism), and they essentially brought everything to the forefront in a very visible, violent way.

Thankfully, at least for the most part (yes, I'm generalizing a bit here), that terrible era has been put behind us, finally. Now the biggest issue that remains seems to be the educational achievement levels in urban school districts, and resolving that seems to elude even the most well-intentioned reformers, unfortunately. It's not just throwing money at the schools. Part of it is teacher, support staff and administrator training, part of it is definitely ensuring that urban schools have modern technology available just as suburban schools have, but a HUGE part of it boils down to ensuring students actually give a damn about learning, period. If students don't want to learn, if they don't want to put in the work, no matter how amazing the teachers are, it's simply not going to matter.

Frankly, the divides in our urban public schools are still the biggest problem getting families back into the core cities. Wealthier families pretty much always send their kids to private/parochial schools, while the working class/recent immigrants send their kids to the public schools, creating huge divides, both racially and economically. It's a huge issue, and one I'm not sure can ever truly be adequately resolved.

Aaron (Glowrock)
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