A Haven and a Hell: The Ghetto in Black America

By Lance Freeman

The black ghetto is often thought of as a place of urban decay and social disarray, a space of confinement imposed on black America by whites, a home to a marginalized underclass. Yet while black urban neighborhoods have suffered from institutional racism and economic neglect, they also have been places of refuge and community. Lance Freeman, professor of architecture and urban planning, traces the evolving role of predominantly black neighborhoods in northern cities from the late 19th century to the present day and reveals forces that caused the ghetto’s role as haven or hell to wax and wane. Offering timely planning and policy recommendations, he provides a new understanding of urban black communities at a time when the future of many inner-city neighborhoods appears uncertain.