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Black CitymakersHow The Philadelphia Negro Changed Urban America$
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Marcus Anthony Hunter

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199948130

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199948130.001.0001

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The Night the Roof Caved In

The Night the Roof Caved In

(p.69) 3 The Night the Roof Caved In
Black Citymakers

Marcus Anthony Hunter

Oxford University Press

This chapter takes up discussion of a key issue in examining urban black residents, public housing. Following the deadly collapse of a dilapidated tenement in the Black Seventh Ward, there was a mass movement to develop race-based public housing policy and construction in Philadelphia. The chapter shows how, inadvertently, black residents’ quest for affordable housing became complicit in the demise of the Black Seventh Ward and subsequent shifts in the institutional and racial geography of Philadelphia. The chapter demonstrates the significance of black agency for the development and construction of urban public housing, highlighting the intraracial dynamics precipitating such urban change. Ultimately, the chapter illustrates the interdependency of urban black neighborhoods and the proactive and reactive ways that black Philadelphians responded to housing reform. This case demonstrates that patterns of urban and neighborhood change often emerge from critical events within black neighborhoods and their residents.

Keywords:   race relations, housing reform, public housing, Black Seventh Ward, political agency

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