The Working Mans Reward: Chicagos Early Suburbs and the Roots of American Sprawl

Hardcover | May 15, 2014

byElaine Lewinnek

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Between the 1860s and 1920s, Chicago's working-class immigrants designed the American dream of home-ownership. They imagined homes as small businesses, homes that were simultaneously a consumer-oriented respite from work and a productive space that workers hoped to control. Leapfrogging out oftown along with Chicago's assembly-line factories, Chicago's early suburbs were remarkably diverse. These suburbs were marketed with the elusive promise that homeownership might offer some bulwark against the vicissitudes of industrial capitalism, that homes might be "better than a bank for a poorman," in the words of one evocative advertisement, and "the working man's reward." This promise evolved into what Lewinnek terms "the mortgages of whiteness:" the hope that property values might increase if that property could be kept white. Suburbs also developed through nineteenth-century notions of the gendered respectability of domesticity, early ideas about city planning andland economics, as well as an evolving twentieth-century discourse about the racial attributes of property values. Because Chicago presented itself as a paradigmatic American city and because numerous Chicago-based experts eventually instituted national real-estate programs, Chicago's early growthaffected the growth of twentieth-century America. Framed by two working-class riots against suburbanization in 1872 and 1919, spurred from both above and below, this work shows how Chicagoans helped form America's urban sprawl and examines the roots of America's suburbanization, synthesizing the new suburban history into the diversity of America'ssuburbs.

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From the Publisher

Between the 1860s and 1920s, Chicago's working-class immigrants designed the American dream of home-ownership. They imagined homes as small businesses, homes that were simultaneously a consumer-oriented respite from work and a productive space that workers hoped to control. Leapfrogging out oftown along with Chicago's assembly-line fac...

Elainne Lewinnek is Associate Professor of American Studies at California State University, Fullerton.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:May 15, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199769222

ISBN - 13:9780199769223

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: "Chicago is America's Dream, Writ Large": Forging the Suburban Dream in Early Chicago1. "Vast and Sudden Municipality": Boosting and Lamenting Chicago's Growth2. "Domestic and Respectable": Property-Owner Politics after the Great Chicago Fire3. Lake and Jungle: The Assembly-line Factory as a Force for Suburbanizatio4. "Better than a Bank for a Poor Man": Worker's Strategies for Home Financing5. Mapping Chicago, Imagining Metropolises: Reconsidering the Zonal Model of Urban Growth6. The Mortgages of Whiteness: Chicago's Race Riots of 1919Conclusion: The City of the Twentieth CenturyNotesBibliographyIndex