Chapter

New York City and the Institutions of Liberal Reform

in Robert Clifton Weaver and the American City

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780226684482
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226684505 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226684505.003.0009
New York City and the Institutions of Liberal Reform

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Social, political, and economic change in the 1940s led to an invigorated civil rights movement that could no longer be ignored by the country's political elite. While progress was slow, legal and political victories, as well as personal successes became increasingly common in the post-World War II years. The effort against housing discrimination is a crucial, yet neglected, aspect of the broader civil rights movement, and Robert Weaver was the leader. As the center of American liberalism, New York City was the best place to reform the nation's system of residential segregation. After several decades of lobbying from urban planners and other activists, by the 1940s “slum clearance” initiatives (they would later be given the more positive-sounding name of “urban renewal”) were under way. Advocates argued that their efforts would eliminate the chaos of the tenement neighborhoods and replace them with modern, efficient communities. This initiative would rebuild large sections of the city while reshaping New York's racial geography.

Keywords: Robert C. Weaver; civil rights movement; housing discrimination; segregation; liberalism

Chapter.  8315 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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