Cover image for House by house, block by block : the rebirth of America's urban neighborhoods
House by house, block by block : the rebirth of America's urban neighborhoods
Von Hoffman, Alexander.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xii, 306 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
The quest to save the inner city : a historical perspective -- Miracle on 174th Street -- Boston and the power of collaboration -- In the rust belt : can the ghetto be rebuilt? -- Olympic efforts in boomtown -- New immigrants transform the old city.
Reading Level:
1530 Lexile.
Electronic Access:
Table of contents
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HT175 .V66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Not long ago, neighborhoods such as the South Bronx, South Central Los Angeles, and Boston's Roxbury were crime-ridden wastelands of vacant lots and burned-out buildings, notorious symbols of urban decay. In House by House, Block by Block, Alexander von Hoffman tells the remarkable stories ofhow local activists and community groups helped turn these areas around. For sixty years, federal policy has attempted with little success to solve the problems of housing and poverty in America's inner cities. Yet increasingly, local organizations are picking up where Washington has left off. In a series of dramatic and colorful narratives, von Hoffman shows howthese groups are revitalizing once desperate neighborhoods in five major cities: New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. The unlikely heroes include: the tough-talking Bronx priest who made apartment buildings for low-income people glisten in the midst of ruins and despair; the "crazywhite man" who scrambled to save Chicago's historic Black Metropolis from the wrecking ball; the Boston cops who built a task force that put the brakes on youth gangs. Thanks to locally-based, bootstrap efforts like these, in inner-city neighborhoods across the country, crime rates are falling, realestate values are rising, and businesses are returning. Von Hoffman also shows that grass-roots work can't do it alone: successful revitalization needs the support of local government and access to business and foundation capital. Based on years of research and more than a hundred interviews, this book is the first systematic account of the dramatic urban revival now going on in the United States. House by House, Block by Block will be a must-read for anyone who cares about the fate of America's cities.

Author Notes

Alexander von Hoffman is a senior research fellow at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University and he teaches at Harvard's Graduate School of Design. He is the author of Local Attachments: The Making of an American Urban Neighborhood and he has written for publications such asThe Boston Globe and The Atlantic Monthly.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

America's blighted inner cities enjoyed a renaissance in the 1990s, with crime rates plummeting and employment, real estate values and population all rising for the first time in decades. The credit for the turnaround, according to this absorbing study of urban revitalization, belongs to local community organizations, whose David vs. Goliath fight against red-lining banks and insurance companies, all-devouring real-estate developments and neglectful city halls helped preserve and revitalize their neighborhoods. Von Hoffman, an academic and the author of Local Attachments: The Making of an American Neighborhood, studies urban disaster areas such as the South Bronx, where housing activists helped transform burned-out ruins into flourishing neighborhoods, and South Central Los Angeles, where an influx of hard-working, entrepreneurial Latino immigrants built a vibrant working-class community after the 1992 riots. His is a somewhat conservative brand of urbanism, favoring "the power of capitalism" over vast urban renewal schemes that, he says, often destroy the character of the areas they're meant to revitalize. Hope for cities, he argues, lies not in glitzy stadiums and civic centers or giant public-housing projects, but in smaller-scale public-private partnerships, subsidies and tax incentives that encourage local landlords and mom-and-pop businesses, the motor of inner-city revitalization. Urban development policy is a labyrinth of heavily acronymed programs, regulations, community groups and government agencies, but von Hoffman's lucid narrative, with its colorful activists, Machiavellian politicians and inspiring struggles, brings this potentially mind-numbing subject to life. This book deserves to be read by everyone concerned with the fate of America's cities. Photos. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. viii
Acronymsp. xi
House by House, Block by Blockp. 0
Introductionp. 1
1 A Historical Perspectivep. 7
2 Miracle on 174Th Streetp. 19
3 Boston and the Power of Collaborationp. 77
4 Can the Ghetto Be Rebuilt?p. 111
5 Olympic Efforts in Boomtownp. 159
6 New Immigrants Transform the Old Cityp. 207
7 Conclusionp. 251
Appendix I Inner-City Mortgage Borrowersp. 257
Appendix II Profile of Neighborhood Populations, 1970-2000p. 260
Notesp. 271
Indexp. 297