Chicago's Block Clubs: How Neighbors Shape The City

Paperback | September 6, 2016

byAmanda I. Seligman

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What do you do if your alley is strewn with garbage after the sanitation truck comes through? Or if you’re tired of the rowdy teenagers next door keeping you up all night? Is there a vacant lot on your block accumulating weeds, needles, and litter? For a century, Chicagoans have joined block clubs to address problems like these that make daily life in the city a nuisance. When neighbors work together in block clubs, playgrounds get built, local crime is monitored, streets are cleaned up, and every summer is marked by the festivities of day-long block parties.
            In Chicago’s Block Clubs, Amanda I. Seligman uncovers the history of the block club in Chicago—from its origins in the Urban League in the early 1900s through to the Chicago Police Department’s twenty-first-century community policing program. Recognizing that many neighborhood problems are too big for one resident to handle—but too small for the city to keep up with—city residents have for more than a century created clubs to establish and maintain their neighborhood’s particular social dynamics, quality of life, and appearance. Omnipresent yet evanescent, block clubs are sometimes the major outlets for community organizing in the city—especially in neighborhoods otherwise lacking in political strength and clout. Drawing on the stories of hundreds of these groups from across the city, Seligman vividly illustrates what neighbors can—and cannot—accomplish when they work together.

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What do you do if your alley is strewn with garbage after the sanitation truck comes through? Or if you’re tired of the rowdy teenagers next door keeping you up all night? Is there a vacant lot on your block accumulating weeds, needles, and litter? For a century, Chicagoans have joined block clubs to address problems like these that ma...

Amanda I. Seligman is professor of history and urban studies at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She is the author of Block by Block: Neighborhoods and Public Policy on Chicago’s West Side and is an editor of the Historical Studies of Urban America series.

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Kobo ebook|Jan 27 2012

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:312 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.6 inPublished:September 6, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022638585X

ISBN - 13:9780226385853

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“Most scholars ignore the lowly block club. Seligman remedies that oversight in her magisterial account of their history and importance in Chicago. . . . She proves that Chicago and urban history more generally need to be rewritten to include these clubs that ‘make strangers into neighbors.’ Like community organizations and political movements, they should not be overlooked by scholars, city planners, or community organizers.”