Chapter

Coming Home

in Citizen Hobo

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780226143781
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226143804 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226143804.003.0008
Coming Home

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This chapter discusses the decline and fall of skid rows. During the postwar economic boom, when the family-wage system enjoyed greater authority than it ever had before or ever would again, skid row seemed to represent a strange exception to the general rule of mobility. With Americans moving upward into the middle class and outward to the suburbs, the men of skid row appeared to be stagnating. Skid row men elicited pity during the Cold War era, but they also evoked disgust and not a little fear. Skid row homelessness represented a blatant affront to the nuclear family ideal, an ideal which held such extreme sway in postwar culture that the few who deviated from it escaped without sanction. Far from being an isolated ghetto, skid row hosted men of various racial, ethnic, and age groups and saw a great deal of interaction with surrounding black, Latino, and other working-class neighborhoods.

Keywords: skid rows; family-wage system; postwar economic boom; suburbs; postwar culture

Chapter.  9651 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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