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The industrial suburb is dead, long live the industrial slum: suburbs and slums in Chicago and Montreal, 1850–1950

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The typical story of central-city slum formation focuses on middle-class residential mobility out of the older central core areas to the new zones of the urban fringe. In this story, the housing left behind by the well-to-do as they moved to the suburbs is seen as filtering down to the poor or being demolished to make way for non-residential functions. Among other things, once fashionable districts were turned into slum neighbourhoods with their poor housing and environmental conditions, and high levels of poverty and unemployment. There is little doubt that this was one element of central-city change after 1850. The purpose of this paper is to show that while the conversion of central-city middle-class districts was one route to the slum, another was the recasting of the nineteenth-century industrial suburb. The discussion begins with an outline of the changing idea of the industrial suburb as a solution to central-city problems. This is followed by an examination of examples taken from Chicago (Packingtown and Bridgeport) and Montreal (Saint-Henri and Saint-CuneĀ“gonde) which illustrate how twentieth-century central-city slums had their origin not as central city middle-class districts but as nineteenth-century industrial suburbs.
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Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: 2002-04-01

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