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The Old Neighborhood: What We Lost in the Great Suburban Migration, 1966-1999
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The Old Neighborhood: What We Lost in the Great Suburban Migration, 1966-1999

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  81 ratings  ·  11 reviews
"Life in the city, for the millions who lived it, was once something less than the sum of their lifestyle choices: they woke up, they ate, they shoveled coal, loved, hated, prayed, mated, reproduced, died. For most, the home was not a display object but a place to keep the few things they had managed to hold on to from the surpluses produced by their labor. Their material ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 10th 1999 by Free Press
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Dan C.
I have a real fondness for books about our modern age. The only trouble is, as I have mentioned before, that there is so frequently a temptation to write about a period of history before a sufficient amount of time has elapsed to really see it objectively. I found this to be a bit true with Ray Suarez' The Old Neighborhood: What We Lost in the Great Suburban Migration: 1966-1999. For the 1966 part, yeah, I think we have good perspective but not so much for the 1999 part - especially considering ...more
A little dated (DC population is back up some since this was written, for instance) but overall an informaive survey of the impact of depopulation of big cities in the northeast and midwest from 60's to 90's. Some interesting interviews with residents or former residents to concretize the discussion. Not much of a macro perspective except for the "white flight" angle. For example, he doesn't really discuss the environmental implications of more people moving to the suburbs, often farther from th ...more
Wow! What a disappointment. I'm a fan of Ray Suarez (PBS Newshour) and as a student of urban life and history I looked forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, I waited about a decade too long because this 1999 book is badly dated now. I expected a book praising the virtues of neighborhoods--old or new--as cohesive communities. This book, however, is just gloomy about the demise of the old ethnic neighborhoods (he mostly writes about big, old Midwestern and Northeastern cities), block bustin ...more
Mark Mikula
I was disappointed that the author didn't cover Detroit or Minneapolis-St. Paul. (Detroit was the bigger oversight.) Regardless, I enjoyed the book. Maybe the author felt that the Midwest was adequately covered because of the attention he gave Chicago.

As a resident of Minneapolis in a neighborhood that is trending downward, I was curious to see what types of issues are at play with losing population bases to the suburbs. As expected, the complicated issue of race is a heavy focus for this book.
This book was a fascinating read. Suarez provides the history of the flight from American cities and the subsequent suburban sprawl mostly through interviews with the people involved. It's an in-depth look at racism, organizing, politics, crime, and neighborhoods. The book covers multiple cities' individual stories as well as the national picture. I highly recommend it.
I read The Old Neighborhood as part of my research for a term paper on urban sprawl during my junior year in college. It turned out to be so much more fascinating than I had anticipated. In addition to being a great work of non-fiction, The Old Neighborhood has a lot of heart. Anyone with an interest in socio-economic issues would find this an enjoyable read.
It's more than I expected from Ray and he packs a little punch. It's great to read about Chicago in context of other cities experiencing white flight and gentrification--to understand similarities and differences based on geography and history. Why doesn't goodreads have spelling and grammar check?
Dec 24, 2008 Christine added it
Shelves: gave-up-on
Got halfway through ... it was a good book, but wasn't adding many new insights for me. I recommend it though for people who haven't done as much thinking about urban flight and renewal as I have.
MB Pickard
Feb 04, 2008 MB Pickard marked it as to-read
Just bought this one over the weekend too. Looks great. The guy that hosts "Talk of the Nation" (Ray Suarez) from NPR wrote it. Which pretty much means I'll love it.
"The Old Neighborhood: What We Lost in the Great Suburban Migration, 1966-1999 by Ray Suarez (1999)"
A fascinating subject, but this book almost drowns in unedited interviews & academese.
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