Imágenes de páginas

this change that accounts for the disorder, disorganization, and confusion of our most rapidly growing large American cities. Only a few historical names of local communities remain, like Gramercy Park, Chelsea, and Greenwich Village in New York, or Hyde Park, Lawndale, and Lake View in Chicago, but how different are the districts still so denominated from the flourishing neighborhoods of the past!

Because of these changes, because of the rapid growth of cities, and because of the consequent increasing complexity of urban life, it has come to pass that the city—or, at least large areas of it—has become an unknown land, terra incognita. The typical inhabitant of the city knows only two of its areas: the neighborhood in which he resides, and the downtown business center. All the remainder of the city is almost as unknown to him as was America to a European in the days of Columbus. Many persons in Chicago are familiar perhaps only with the block on which their apartment is located, and with merely the department stores, theaters, and "Boul Mich" of the loop. Otherwise the city is a bewildering maze of streets and boulevards and an endless succession of houses, apartments, churches, theaters, stores, shops, and skyscrapers. The impressionistic, not to say cubist, pictures of the city mirror quite accurately the confused image of the city in the minds of many of its residents.

In our studies during the past ten years in Chicago I have been searching, like Diogenes, unsuccessfully, for a certain man. Unlike Diogenes, I have not been hunting for an honest man, but for a man who really knew the city. I have failed to find him. I have come to the conclusion that he probably does not exist. But I have found many persons who do know a great deal about certain aspects of one or two localities. First, of course, is the old resident living in his memories of the past, unreconciled and unreconcilable to the actualities of the present. I wish it were possible to pool the information of the old residents and so to reconstruct the Chicago of the past. Then there is the politician. He really knows a great deal about his neighborhood; he has to know his constituents, or lose his job. The knowledge that he has of human nature and local conditions should be pooled and pondered over by all the well-wishers of progress through legislation or other forms of immediate action. Then there is the real estate man; he is interested in his locality in a vital way, particularly with reference to trends. From him data can be obtained valuable for predicting the futures. The social worker also goes into the community, comes to know conditions of poverty and problems of behavior and of family life. This material ought to be funded into our common store of knowledge about the city. Then, too, there are the statistics of our social agencies, our police departments, our courts, our health departments, which also should be assembled in one great central depository.

Yet all this collection of knowledge about the city is not of much practical importance unless we know something of the distribution of these facts over the community. To say that 2,500 boys were brought into the juvenile court in

eighteen months on the charge of delinquency is not nearly as significant as a map showing, by nationality of the parent, the homes of each of these boys. For that reason a division of the city into local areas, into districts, is of prime importance. For the city can only be described and understood in terms of its component parts. Chicago is not alone the lake front region, with its Gold Coast, its residential hotel zones, its long line of apartment house territory, parks, and· boulevards; nor the West Side, crowded to overflowing with diverse immigrant colonies; nor Packingtown, with its circle of dependent districts; nor the Calumet region, with its gigantic steel mills and industrial population; but it is all of these fused into the common life of a modern American city. Chicago, like any other city, must be analyzed into its parts in order to obtain a conception of the community as a whole.

What, then, are these divisions or parts of the city that may be taken as the natural units of its economic, social, and civic organization?

At the present time social, civic, and governmental agencies must perforce use districts in order to carry out their work. But, as if the city were a corpse, instead of a living being, each agency carves it into districts, in almost utter disregard of the lines of separation which naturally have developed in the physical and social structure of the city itself. The United States Census has its system of tracts and enumeration districts. The city has its arbitrary ward lines, changing every ten years, almost perversely, before the volume on population appears, with figures for the old wards. The police precincts follow a still different, but quite as arbitrary, pattern. The city health department has five or six different kinds of districting. The five departments of the juvenile court have five types of districts. The county agent has his own districting plan. Among the social agencies under private auspices the United Charities, the Visiting Nurse Association, the Infant Welfare Society, each has its own system of dividing up the city into districts.

The social, civic, and governmental agencies of a city apparently must have districts. In a changing city what is the natural unit upon which a workable district structure may be based? As a result of several years of study the conclusion has been reached that the most serviceable natural unit is the one which inheres in the physical structure of the city itself. The great lines of division laid out in the physical make-up of the city are rivers, railroad lines, industries, parks, and elevations, those natural lines of demarcation which separate the different sections of the city from each other. A map of railroads flanked by industry gives the basic anatomy of the city. For Chicago a second map, showing in black railroad property and property zoned for heavy industry, pictures even more unmistakably how these main lines of transportation and centers of basic industries like iron and steel, lumber and meat packing, give the crude outline form of the city.

But inevitably the question will arise, Why take this physical formation of the city as indicating the natural units for social and governmental agencies?

More important by far is the economic and business organization, and most important is the cultural and civic organization. This is a valid point, but it can be answered in a way to capture even the most ardent advocate of this contention.

In our studies of Chicago, and I venture the same will apply to other large cities, it is found that the intersections of street car lines determine business centers of local communities. Since Chicago was laid out by section lines, these business centers have developed almost uniformly a mile apart, and have usually a trade area of one square mile. At the same time, and this is the point of the discussion, these trade areas fall within the main natural lines of division shown on the maps of property zoned for railroad and industrial use. Therefore at the present time, and increasingly in the future, the business and economic organization of the city will fall within lines determined by its physical structure.

The same may be said—with somewhat less finality, it is true-for the cultural and civic organization of the city. By its cultural areas are meant the different organized "states of mind" found in the city. First of all there is the "Chicago state of mind," which distinguishes the patriotic inhabitant of the Windy City from the patriotic Bostonian or Clevelander. Boston still, I believe, regards itself as the intellectual hub of America. The New Yorker is convinced that the metropolis is the only real city on this continent; that all the other cities are only villages filled with "hicks" and "rubes." The state of mind of Chicago had never been so well articulated as by Carl Sandburg, in his famous personification of the spirit of this city of the Middle West:

Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of

Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player
with Railroads, and Freight Handler to the Nation.

Just as cities are essentially "states of mind," so are their component parts. The Gold Coast is a state of mind, an identification of the old and successful families of the city with financial and social leadership, with the business and cultural development of the city, with satisfaction in general with the existing order, and with philanthropic ideals of social welfare for the poor and unfortunate of the community. Hobohemia is a state of mind, of revolt against the capitalistic system and of wild dreams of a new and better society in which the capitalistic wolf will lie down with the proletarian lamb. Little Italy is a state of mind, hypersensitive because of the criticism in the press on the prevalence of gunmen deaths among those of Italian stock, but growingly conscious of the solidarity of their community. The cultural center of the Poles in America is to be found in Little Poland, in Chicago's northwest area. Hyde Park, within the city limits, and Evanston, outside to the north, are rivals for the position of the Boston of Chicago. Other cultural centers, and at the same time states of mind, are Chinatown, Bohemia, with its artist colonies and radical religious and aesthetic cults, the Black Belt, and the Ghetto. But these cultural areas, these

states of mind, whether those of immigrant groups, or of economic classes, or of all the other social groupings, in the long run coincide, or fall within these areas that are marked off so strikingly by the physical structure of the city.

It is true that these cultural areas may, and do, shift. Indeed, the movement of these areas is now being studied, and is found to follow the order of a regular process which is called succession. For example, the movement of a nationality is generally out from the center of the city along one of its main business arteries. Thus, on the North Side, the Germans and the Swedes have marched north along Lincoln Avenue. The Poles have found in Milwaukee Avenue a thoroughfare that has determined their drive northwest. The Italians have migrated westward following the turns in the direction made by Grand Avenue. The West Side Negroes have moved out along Lake Street toward the city limits. The Russian Jew has overrun the territory along Roosevelt Road to the city limits. The Bohemian has taken Twenty-Second Street as his highway, from Pilsen through South Lawndale out into the neighboring community of Cicero. The Irish from the old settlements of Bridgeport and Hamburg have driven south along South Halsted Street. The Negro has found in South State Street an open gate to a penetration, more or less peaceful, of the South Side.

In this movement from the center to the circumference of the city, nationality and racial groups have pressed hard upon each other. Hull House neighborhood has been inundated by successive waves of nationalities, first the Irish and the German, then the Bohemian, recently the Italian and the Greek, and now the Negro. Types of succession other than those of nationality are to be observed. In the decline of a neighborhood the following stages of deterioration have been worked out: first, the stage of residential home ownership, with a high degree of community spirit; second, the stage of tenancy, with a decline of neighborhood loyalty; third, the invasion of business; fourth, the rooming-house stage; fifth, the entrance of a racial or nationality group of imputed inferior cultural status; sixth, the intrusion of vice and crime; seventh, the stage of social chaos; and eighth, the final stage, when business or industry takes full possession of the area. This is the general cycle of the life-history of the neighborhood. There are, of course, certain variations in this pattern, as when a residential area of single homes is transformed into an apartment house or residential hotel, area.

However, these movements of population, these successions of nationality and racial groups and of types of residential areas, are influenced and conditioned by the basic structural pattern of the city. These barriers of railroad track flanked by industry often stand as almost impenetrable walls between racial and nationality groups. For a generation the Pennsylvania Railroad lines have separated the Negro and the Irish. The lines of the Burlington and the Northwestern along Fifteenth and Sixteenth streets have been serving almost as well as an impassable barrier between the Jews and Italians to the north, and the Lithuanians and the Bohemians and the Poles to the south. In other words,

in the long run the movement and the distribution of nationality and other cultural groups in the city is determined by the natural units of its physical pattern.

By the civic organization of the city is meant the forming of persons into groups, associations, and societies for the promotion of their common interests. Many of these organizations, of course, are city-wide, like the Association of Commerce, the Federation of Labor, and the Church Federation. But many of these are local, as district business men's associations, neighborhood improvement clubs, community federations of churches, local Kiwanis and Lion's clubs. Mr. E. L. Burchard made a list of over 1,300 of these organizations in Chicago which he classified in thirty-nine local communities.

The districts of social agencies and of the municipal government I would call administrative, in contrast with these local institutions which are here called civic, those organizations predisposed to act to promote the welfare of their own members and the welfare of the community. One of the functions of social agencies is, I take it, to put at the disposal of the underprivileged, the handicapped, and the unfortunate any and all of the resources of the community. The work of many of these agencies is, and must be, localized. Is it not almost self-evident that in the planning of districts due consideration be given to the natural formation of the city?

More and more, as social work advances from its early form of relief-giving to a professional art of adjusting personal, family, and group relationships, will recognition be given to the increasing value of the knowledge of the community to the development of the technique and sympathy of the individual social worker. City life is new to all of us. Modern society itself is experimenting on this great urban adventure. The demand is imperative that those who are acting as guides in directing the conduct of other persons and their affairs have all the knowledge available, and all that may be made available, on the present and future trends of city life.

All that has been said may be summarized in a few words. The city is a growth. In that growth it subdivides naturally into units determined by its outstanding physical features. In this form the processes of economic, cultural, and civic growth take place. If social and governmental agencies are to base their work upon a knowledge of city life, their administrative districts should be changed in conformity with the basic pattern of the city.


Helen I. Clarke, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Recently I visited the Chicago Social Service Exchange and found the secretary puzzling over some interesting and significant facts. Since 1915 the A. family, with its four chidren, has lived in at least eighteen different places

« AnteriorContinuar »