Two of the most celebrated black neighborhoods in the United States—Harlem in New York City and Bronzeville in Chicago—were once plagued by crime, drugs, and abject poverty. But now both have transformed into increasingly trendy and desirable neighborhoods with old buildings being rehabbed, new luxury condos being built, and banks opening branches in areas that were once redlined. In The New Urban Renewal, Derek S. Hyra offers an illuminating exploration of the complicated web of factors—local, national, and global—driving the remarkable revitalization of these two iconic black communities.
How did these formerly notorious ghettos become dotted with expensive restaurants, health spas, and chic boutiques? And, given that urban renewal in the past often meant displacing African Americans, how have both neighborhoods remained black enclaves? Hyra combines his personal experiences as a resident of both communities with deft historical analysis to investigate who has won and who has lost in the new urban renewal. He discovers that today’s redevelopment affects African Americans differentially: the middle class benefits while lower-income residents are priced out. Federal policies affecting this process also come under scrutiny, and Hyra breaks new ground with his penetrating investigation into the ways that economic globalization interacts with local political forces to massively reshape metropolitan areas.
As public housing is torn down and money floods back into cities across the United States, countless neighborhoods are being monumentally altered. The New Urban Renewal is a compelling study of the shifting dynamics of class and race at work in the contemporary urban landscape.