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Saturday, March 2

Gapers Block

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This week's question was submitted by Michael.

Q: Someone told me that Lincoln Park was gang turf many years ago and that Wicker Park was also a bad neighborhood in the 1980s. I'm not a native and gentrification seems to work in strange ways here. I was wondering where I could find out more about [the] history of redevelopment anywhere on the North or Northwest part of town.

Thanks so much for your question. As a librarian, I love answering questions that require me to pull together a bibliography or pathfinder on a particular topic. In a real library setting, I would have been able to get feedback from you to target exactly the kinds of resources you're looking for. Instead, here I've just done my best to capture a broad range of materials that touch on your topic to give you an idea of the variety of information available in the hope that something here will peak your interest.

Except where noted, most of the books listed can be found at the Chicago Public Library.


This collection of titles deals with gentrification in the narrowest sense possible. You'll see they are all dissertation manuscripts, but if you want to know how gentrification works in Chicago, these may be a good place to look.

Kalkstein, Melissa. "Gentrification: The Effect of Local Government on Neighborhood Renovation in Chicago neighborhoods." Diss. Illinois State U, 1998.

Metzgar, Judd. "The Effects of Gentrification on Housing Displacement in the Wicker Park Community." Diss. DePaul U, 1999.
This thesis paper is available at the DePaul University library.

Patton, Mary Alice. "Gender and Gentrification: Who Moves In, Who Stays and How They Differ." Diss. Depaul U, 2002.
This thesis paper is also available at the DePaul University library and focuses specifically on the North Side of Chicago and the neighborhoods of Rogers Park, Edgewater, Lakeview and Lincoln Park.

Urban Renewal and Community Development

Although these are still fairly "academic," the following books deal a little more broadly with the idea of neighborhood change in Chicago. The first few titles were written by the late Ed Marciniak, a national expert on public housing and champion of a number of social justice issues. A life-long Chicagoan, Marciniak taught at Loyola University Chicago and was president of the school's Institute of Urban Life from 1973 until his death this past May.

Marciniak, Ed. Reclaiming the Inner City: Chicago's Near North Revitalization Confronts Cabrini-Green. Washington, DC: National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs, 1986.

Marciniak, Ed. Reversing Urban Decline: The Winthrop-Kenmore Corridor in the Edgewater and Uptown Communities of Chicago. Washington, DC: National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs, 1981.

Marciniak, Ed. Reviving an Inner City: The Drama of Urban Change in East Humboldt Park in Chicago. Chicago: Department of Political Science, Loyola University, 1977.

Warren, Elizabeth. Chicago's Uptown: Public Policy, Neighborhood Decay, and Citizen Action in an Urban Community. Chicago: Center for Urban Policy, Loyola University, 1979.

Welter, Gail Danks. The Rogers Park Community: A Study of Social Change, Community Groups and Neighborhood Reputation. Chicago: Center for Urban Policy, Loyola University, 1982.

Housing in Chicago

The next group of books contains more general histories of Chicago through the lens of ethnic groups, immigrant communities and housing. They don't necessarily focus on the North Side of Chicago, but they do give a broad overview of the history and changing faces of Chicago's neighborhoods.

Bigott, Joseph C. From Cottage to Bungalow: Houses and the Working Class in Metropolitan Chicago, 1869-1929. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Bowly, Devereux. The Poorhouse: Subsidized Housing in Chicago, 1895-1976. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1978.

Hirsch, Arnold R. Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940-1960. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Philpott, Thomas Lee. The Slum and the Ghetto: Neighborhood Deterioration and Middle-Class Reform, Chicago, 1880-1930. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.

Online Resources

The Greater Chicago Housing and Community Development website compiled a list of links to reports and white papers online that address to housing and gentrification issues. However, many of them are national reports and do not specifically discuss Chicago.

Library Resources

As I mentioned in the beginning, many of these books are available through the Chicago Public Library. You can check their catalog online, from the comfort of your own home, for exact holdings and location information.

You can also search for newspaper and periodical articles online. The Chicago Public Library subscribes to many databases,including online access to the Chicago Tribune archives and other Illinois newspapers. You just need your library card number to log on.

Also, don't forget about the Chicago Historical Society. Their research center is open to the public, and their website has lots of tips and tools for researching various Chicago history topics. In fact, the Historical Society also compiled a bibliography, titled "Gentrification in Lincoln Park," that includes many more books not listed above.

So, I hope this helps you get started. Good luck!

GB store


Sarah Spank / July 22, 2004 8:40 PM

I too am interested in this topic; I remember how different most of the city was in previous decades, and am very interested in finding photos of the north side in the 70s and 80s. I wonder if anyone has compiled anything like this... Photos of the changing face of the city, something like that? If anyone knows of any books like this, please post.

Alex / July 23, 2004 9:47 AM

this rocks. Thanks. Makes me think of this:

Alice / July 23, 2004 9:12 PM

Sarah, off the top of my head, I can't think of any photographic histories of the north side that focus specifically on the 70s-80s. However, you might be interested in the Images of America series, which includes dozens of pictorial histories of various Chicago neighborhoods and communities. You can check them out at the Chicago Historical Society giftshop website here:

And thanks Alex. :)

dce / July 27, 2004 9:20 AM

Gentrification in Chicago isn't a new phenomenon (meaning in recent decades). Some would argue that it's a natural cycle in urban areas . . . although nowadays, low income families are being pushed out of the city altogether. But this is a discussion for a different article.

Another book you might consider is The Gold Coast and the Slum. Written in 1929, it's not about gentrification per se, but gets to some of the fundamental issues regarding why neighborhoods change.

jack / July 28, 2004 4:47 PM

Here's another resource for Chicago neighborhood research- a new bibliography from the Newberry Library.


About the Author(s)

Alice Maggio is a real, live Chicago librarian. If you have topic ideas or questions you would like answered, send your suggestions to and it may be featured in a future column.

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