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Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City
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Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  575 ratings  ·  84 reviews
Eugenics, racial thinking, and white supremacist attitudes influenced even the federal government's actions toward housing in the 20th century, dooming American cities to ghettoization. The Federal Housing Administration continued discriminatory housing policies even into the 1960s, long after civil rights legislation. This all-American tale is told through the prism of ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Ivan R. Dee Publisher (first published 2010)
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Jeff Verthein
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
I moved to Baltimore 13 years ago, and have always been fascinated by the neighborhood complexities. I settled in East Baltimore (which Pietila grossly labelled a "slum") and marveled how the smallest houses I had ever seen were now the most popular neighborhoods to be in (easy to renovate, close to the endless strings of corner bars, I guess). I recall going to Franklin Square to look at a rental listing and being confused how any area with such magnificent houses could EVER have hit the skids ...more
Jana
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Really interesting read, particularly when you're familiar with Baltimore neighborhoods and can reference the current conditions. Completely changed my understanding of Baltimore communities and the years of racism and bigotry that have continued to shape its development. I only wish the historical accuracy had left me feeling a little more hopeful than this did.

While really interesting and informative, the text occasionally jumped around illogically, making it difficult to follow. It also could
...more
James Smyth
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After I visited Baltimore last month, this book soared to the top of my queue. I had to know more about why the streets and highways were like barriers and standards of living varied so drastically between places such a short distance from each other. In this meticulously researched yet readable and compelling history, Mr. Pietila confirmed my suspicions and then some, showing how the dystopia was not the result of a few evil men but rather the consequence of a system everyone participated in ...more
Elizabeth
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well researched and informative text of how the history of Baltimore City impacts Baltimore today.
Julie
Aug 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I’ve lived in Baltimore for 26 years. It is full of beautiful neighborhoods, many of which are organized around the greenways and streams that run through the city. I’ve always been struck by how segregated the city is, and knew that some history of housing policy and practices both legal and illegal shaped this. I didn’t know how comprehensive and overwhelming this history is until reading Pietela’s book.

In his thorough review of Baltimore’s bigoted housing practices in the late 19th and
...more
Asha
This book discuss housing segregation in Baltimore. Outside the limits of Jim Crow it explains how northern cities, similar to Philly, NYC, Chicago, used more clever methods to impose segregation policies. It also includes social theories and beliefs such as Eugenics, and how they promoted these policies. For this reason it is a good read.
However, where it falls short , it did not following the title. It doesn't explain how these policies ultimately "shaped baltimore" such as crime, poverty ,
...more
Bill Sleeman
Jan 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
I used this book as the core text in a class I team-taught this past fall. Pietila is a great storyteller and he really makes the subject come alive. I particularly enjoyed reading about how a garden street was purposefully turned into a truck route in order to inhibit the ability of African American residents to easily cross the street...to the white side of the neighborhood. While most people know the broad outlines of housing discrimination in Baltimore Pietila captures the petty indignities ...more
Steve
May 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
great storytelling that provides a detailed history of race, religion and real estate in Baltimore
Alice Lemon
This book was really interesting, both as a history of Twentieth Century Baltimore and as a study of white flight and mid-Twentieth Century housing turnover and failed integration in an American city. I will say that it would've helped a lot if I was more familiar with Baltimore before reading the book, especially its geography. I am too much of a Washington-focused Marylander who really doesn't know Baltimore well.

The degree of terror that seemed to motivate white homeowners to move when the
...more
Maksym
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An absolute must for those new and old to Baltimore. Provides incredible insight as to how west and northwest Baltimore formed through the years. Bravo to Antero! Tuhannet Kiitokset. Stealing a Finnish saying.
Danielle
Oct 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this book as part of one of Loyola's diversity reading groups for faculty and staff. The book is about the development of housing in Baltimore and how race and bigotry affected the way the city has developed. As I've mentioned many times before in my reviews I'm kind of sociology geek, so I found this book endlessly fascinating. The discussions we had surrounding it over the course of 6 weeks were also wonderful. I was trying to pace myself with the discussion, but found it really ...more
Jean
May 27, 2015 rated it liked it
No real startling revelations here, though things started much earlier than I had realized and the pervasiveness, severity and ferocity of some of the discriminatory practices were more extreme than I had realized. Nor was the writing particularly noteworthy--in fact, the book could have used some help in its organization in places. But the details were interesting, particularly the parts about the Jewish community, both as being discriminated against and as discriminators (even against other ...more
Allison
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Pietila's research is eye-opening. It is amazing to see how officials, government, and political powers that rose to influence manipulated the housing situation in Baltimore to reflect racism and discrimination. There are direct correlations to how segregated and "separate" the city feels today. I think for any resident of Baltimore past, present, or future this should be reading material. I also think anyone trying to understand the racial, economic, and social situations of American cities ...more
Elizabeth
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm not a big non-fiction fan, but I "needed" to read this book. It certainly gave me an introspective to how my grandfather probably thought. Being born in 1910 in Baltimore, this is how he grew up experiencing blacks and Jews - in a manner dictate by "civil gentile society" at the time. I don't excuse his bigotry, but feel I understand how it evolved. I only wish he were still alive so I could discuss the book with someone who lived this era in B-more.

The author takes a long, hard look at the
...more
Beth
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book was written in a very piecemeal fashion - and perhaps it was too disjointed for me. Instead of telling one over-arching the story, the author elected to tell a million tiny stories. He would introduce a character, talk about that character for one paragraph (or less), and then that character would disappear into oblivion. There has to be a better way to tell this story. It was a struggle for me to finish this book.
Kimberly
May 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a MUST READ for Baltimore residents. Seriously. Until we understand the past we can't understand the present or change the future.
Annie
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
for when you move to Baltimore and can't figure out what the fuck happened here
Jon Catherwood-Ginn
Jun 09, 2011 rated it liked it
I just read this while visiting West Baltimore... deeply researched and very convincing! It's a bit weirdly structured in places, but overall good.
Alexis
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: race, politics, history
This is an interesting look back at the history of housing segregation in one city. Baltimore makes a fascinating study because it operated a three tier system: white, Jewish, and black, and because of its history as a border city with a complicated history of segregation.

Pietila walks you through the history of Baltimore's attempt to segregate itself via means both official and unofficial--from attempts at legislating segregation via ordinance to restrictive covenants and the existence of
...more
Anne
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book explains so much about my adopted hometown, Baltimore, and the persistent damage of bigotry and racism. It ends on an optimistic tone after President Obama is elected. Oh well. If only. Maybe this is just a blip we're in now, 2019 as I type this.

I read the book front to back, every page, as did several members of my book club. If you find you cannot do this, you will learn enough by reading selectively, maybe scanning for the neighborhoods or names you are familiar with. There is a
...more
Lisa Giles
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Was feeling inspired to read a book about Baltimore after spending time home for the holidays. It covers how neighborhoods in Baltimore developed throughout the 1900s and into the early 2000s, focusing on blockbusting, redlining, the 'black tax' and real estate 'tiers'. Much of the book was eye-opening for me, particularly the level of discrimination Jewish people faced, and that Baltimore enacted the first law in American history to prevent blacks from moving into white residential blocks, and ...more
Kevin Genus
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I remember reading a newsletter from The University of Baltimore speaking about this book when it was first published. They claimed it was a must read, and after doing so three times, I would agree. If ever you wanted the truth about the cities in the United States, this is it, it's applicable to every major city in our borders. You may not like the facts and events presented here, they come straight out of Baltimore. It is an education in the ills of our society, you might find yourself sending ...more
Tashfeen
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
-Abraham Lincoln was an undivided racist.
-While both minority groups, Blacks were anti-Semitic, while Jews in turn hated Blacks.
-Redlining, Blockbusting, Covenants... discrimination terms that are defined in detail.

I was shamed in my ignorance in many of the facts I was exposed to while reading, a few of which I point out above. The book contains unnerving content that submerses into minute details, from the court documents down to the lineage and history of the ancillary persons involved.
...more
Esther
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfic
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It is fairly narrow in scope, but as a Marylander, I appreciated the local history and I do think it could be informative for people in other places as a case study into the history of residential segregation. I was a bit concerned that it would simply go over redlining, which I feel fairly familiar with at this point, but it in fact when much further, covering interesting zoning issues and explaining the political dynamics as well as private business decisions ...more
Brianne Roth
May 28, 2017 rated it liked it
This book contained a lot of eye-opening information about the extent of racial and religious discrimination in housing in Baltimore. It was really shocking and helps to explain why certain areas of the city ended up majority African American, Jewish, or white Christian.

That said, the book itself isn't that easy to read. The narrative is generally chronological, but the author jumps around a lot in time to provide backstory about people and places. This made a little difficult to follow but did
...more
Karina Mendoza
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
In an era of great urban gentrification, "Not in My Neighborhood" is a must-read for all Americans trying to understand why many historically disadvantaged communities may be put off by the trend. In his book, Antero Pietila captures, very articulately, how our racist economic and legal institutions (fatten by racist and classist sentimentality of those with power) kept (and I'd argue that continue to keep) cities and suburbs segregated. My review is a bit more politically charged than Pietila's ...more
Adam Cornish
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating read that helped me further understand how racism and bigotry has shaped Baltimore's development, as well as that of other U.S. cities. My only concern is that it is a bit disjointed in the storytelling, often making it difficult to tell exactly when certain events are occurring. Nonetheless, I was riveted and am glad to have read this book/while also now being motivated to push back further against the remnants of redlining and other tactics that repress racial ...more
Peter Horton
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Would recommend this book to all Marylanders. Details the sad, but surprisingly complicated history of racism and division within our largest city and provides a context to the entire state that was largely missing growing up in the DC suburbs. I sadly wasn't even surprised to learn towards the end of the book that our state anthem (now our "historical song" due to recent legislation) was a Confederate battle hymn. Maryland my Maryland...
Pamela
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading for all voters and political candidates in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, as well as for governors and members of the Maryland General Assembly. Too few people in the Baltimore region understand the realities of structural racism and its lingering effects in our communities.
Chris
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Not only was this book interesting in the investigation of race and politics and how bigotry and fear came to shape the places that different races live today, but it was particularly interesting to me as it focused on Maryland, and Baltimore specifically. There were a lot of things in the local history that I had no idea about until reading this book.
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