Analysis of David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric Introduction
Combining a detailed history of Chicago’s troubled northwest corner and the several, major demographic shifts the area faced, David Fleming evaluates the relationship between Chicago’s low-income, African-American community and the spatial imbalance the community encountered throughout the 20th century in his book City of Rhetoric. Focusing on the Cabrini Green Homes, a housing project funded by the city in 1941, Fleming paints the picture of a struggling community living under the poverty line, displaying the Cabrini Green Homes as the epicenter of penury and evolving demographics in Chicago’s rough, northwestern corner. As the area surrounding the Cabrini Green Homes became increasingly vitiated by extreme poverty and crime that encompassed the neighborhood in the mid-20th century, the city stepped in, attracting ideas of gentrification and revival for this piece of Chicago. Following the introduction of this idea of revival, Fleming details the three very different proposals that faced the community in the late-20th century. As Fleming works to help readers visualize this troubled corner of Chicago, he places emphasis on the demographic shifts that detailed the evolving, racial composition of the neighborhood and the three visions that factored into this new idea of gentrification for this area of Chicago.
Beginning in the mid-19th century, large numbers of Italians began populating the areas surrounding the Cabrini Green Homes. Following the Italians, the second great migration, detailing the northern migration of african-american communities in the south, took effect, as the area became increasingly crowded with lower-income minorities. By the 1960’s the neighborhood was predominantly african-american, as Fleming explained how the change created racially-focused tensions while adding a sense of cultural vibrancy to the region. This change seemed key, in Fleming’s eyes, as racial tensions paired with the sense of cultural vibrancy was seen to characterize the neighborhood for the coming decades. In addition to this idea, Fleming places emphasized idea that the several demographic shifts worked to shape the complications the region faced, such as the issue of spatial imbalance, connecting the future of area to the changes of racial composition within the community. Fleming continued to detail the ways the change of demographics impacted the region, citing the 80’s as a time of violence and economic disparity, prompting the city to take action and revive the struggling community located in Chicago’s troubled northwest corner.
As violence, extreme poverty, and high unemployment began to impact the area surrounding the Cabrini Green Homes, the city of Chicago was seen to step in and take an interest in improving the region. While affordable housing shortages and assistance cuts took effect, three proposals, presented in 2000, focused on the revival of the neighborhood. One proposal included disseminating the predominantly african-american community into the six county metropolitan area, attempting to prevent the isolation and concentration of one race in urban ghettos. The second proposal included reviving the inner-city itself, inviting higher-income earners to the area in order to create a mixed-income community. The third and final proposal included focusing on the existing community, attempting to empower the mostly female-headed families already living within the Cabrini Green Homes. Fleming details just how diverse the three proposals are, citing demographic and economic differences as the main characteristics that differentiate the proposals. This detailing is significant, as it deals with the very future of those living under the poverty line within this troubled corner of northwest Chicago. Fleming then connects the troubled past and uncertain future of the neighborhood to the world in which we live in, suggesting that the rebuilding process, present in the neighborhood during the start of the 21st century, is one that we could apply to our own world. Adding a sense of unity and hope for the future, Fleming visualizes the reconstruction process for readers, connecting the situation to the outside world.
Throughout the Introduction in David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric, Fleming is seen to effectively detail the history of the troubled northwest corner of Chicago while successfully displaying the relationship between Chicago’s low-income, African-American community and the spatial imbalance that occurred. By placing emphasis on the demographic shifts and the three visions that factored into this new idea of gentrification, Fleming worked to help readers visualize the situation more precisely, connecting readers to the hardships that faced the area surrounding the Cabrini Green Homes.
The End of Cabrini Green. Digital image. Content.Time. Time, n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.