The subsidization of suburban sprawl, the de-industrialization of Milwaukee, and the great migration from down South combined to give rise to a “central city” Milwaukee marked by what the economists termed “disinvestment.” There were fears when I showed up in the early 1970s that Milwaukee would go the way of Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis, with immense swaths of old city neighborhoods allowed to decay and serve as “breeding grounds” for all kinds of “urban pathologies.” It is true that there were lots of really run down houses and neighborhoods. It is also true that there was, in remains, quite a lot of big city crime to be dealt with. But despair, in my view, never rooted deeply in the consciousness of the people, from whatever identity group or social class. Milwaukee developed a very expansive “civil society” filled with people who dug in and began to organize the city out of its malaise.

Last edited by Godsil.   Page last modified on November 27, 2004

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