American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto

American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto

Sudhir Venkatesh William Julius Wilson / Oct 16, 2019

American Project The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto High rise public housing developments were signature features of the post World War II city A hopeful experiment in providing temporary inexpensive housing for all Americans the projects soon became

  • Title: American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto
  • Author: Sudhir Venkatesh William Julius Wilson
  • ISBN: 9780674008304
  • Page: 295
  • Format: Paperback
  • High rise public housing developments were signature features of the post World War II city A hopeful experiment in providing temporary, inexpensive housing for all Americans, the projects soon became synonymous with the black urban poor, with isolation and overcrowding, with drugs, gang violence, and neglect As the wrecking ball brings down some of these concrete monoHigh rise public housing developments were signature features of the post World War II city A hopeful experiment in providing temporary, inexpensive housing for all Americans, the projects soon became synonymous with the black urban poor, with isolation and overcrowding, with drugs, gang violence, and neglect As the wrecking ball brings down some of these concrete monoliths, Sudhir Venkatesh seeks to reexamine public housing from the inside out, and to salvage its troubled legacy Based on nearly a decade of fieldwork in Chicago s Robert Taylor Homes, American Project is the first comprehensive story of daily life in an American public housing complex.Venkatesh draws on his relationships with tenants, gang members, police officers, and local organizations to offer an intimate portrait of an inner city community that journalists and the public have only viewed from a distance Challenging the conventional notion of public housing as a failure, this startling book re creates tenants thirty year effort to build a safe and secure neighborhood their political battles for services from an indifferent city bureaucracy, their daily confrontation with entrenched poverty, their painful decisions about whether to work with or against the street gangs whose drug dealing both sustained and imperiled their lives.American Project explores the fundamental question of what makes a community viable In his chronicle of tenants political and personal struggles to create a decent place to live, Venkatesh brings us to the heart of the matter.

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      Published :2019-07-12T07:53:09+00:00

    About "Sudhir Venkatesh William Julius Wilson"

      • Sudhir Venkatesh William Julius Wilson

        Sudhir Venkatesh is William B Ransford Professor of Sociology, and the Committee on Global Thought, at Columbia University in the City of New York.His most recent book is Gang Leader for a Day Penguin Press Gang Leader received a Best Book award from The Economist, and is currently being translated into Chinese, Korean, Japanese, German, Italian, Polish, French and Portuguese His previous work, Off the Books The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor Harvard University Press, 2006 about illegal economies in Chicago, received a Best Book Award from Slate 2006 as well as the C Wright Mills Award 2007 His first book, American Project The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto 2000 explored life in Chicago public housing Venkatesh editorial writings have appeared in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post He writes for Slate, and his stories have appeared in This American Life, WIRED, and on National Public Radio His next book, under contract with Penguin Press, will focus on the role of black market economies from sex work and drug trafficking to day care and entertainment in the revitalization of New York since 1999.Venkatesh is completing an ethnographic study of policing in the Department of Justice, where he served as a Senior Research Advisor from 2010 2011 Venkatesh s first documentary film, Dislocation, followed families as they relocated from condemned public housing developments The documentary aired on PBS in 2005 He directed and produced a three part award winning documentary on the history of public housing for public radio And, he recently completed At the Top of My Voice, a documentary film on a scholar and artist who return to the ex Soviet republic of Georgia to promote democracy and safeguard human rights Venkatesh received his Ph.D in Sociology from the University of Chicago He was a Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows, Harvard University from 1996 1999, and an NSF CAREER award recipient in 2000 He holds a visiting appointment in Columbia University s Law School and he is a voting member of the Institute for Research in African American Studies.


    240 Comments

    1. I like how it's rated fairly low on because the reviewers' attitudes can be summed up this way: "I hate poor people, so I hate this book too."The major themes are "he doesn't demonize single mothers enough" and "stop portraying victims as victims! they should get over it!"Based on the preview I got from these reviewers, I was looking forward to reading this book. Given that many of my friends growing up lived in not projects, but subsidized housing and low-income neighborhoods, I feel like thes [...]


    2. Venkatesh's field ethnographic study of Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes is interesting, but suffers from plodding academic prose. The Taylor Homes were America's largest housing project, built in post-modern, plain high-rises. This study tries to understand why the Taylor Homes failed, they famously were torn down in the 1990's.The architecture and spatial dimensions of the projects were a major problem. Racism forced Chicago's black residents into a small "Black Belt" of dilapidated housing that [...]


    3. This is the third book I've read over the past few months on the American ghetto and perhaps my rating - probably 2.5 stars - partially reflects some fatigue with the material. American Project isn't a terrible book but it's not amazing either. In American Project, Venkatesh chronicles the lives of the tenants of Chicago's infamous Robert Taylor Homes in the 1990s and their struggle with gang activity in the housing project. Like Wacquant, Venkatesh does give a sense of the broader systemic issu [...]


    4. This book marks the high point of Venkatesh's scholarship so far. It is also, unfortunately, his first effort.This volume is a readable description of a segment of American society that exists in parallel to the world most of us see, but that only comes to the surface in short glimpses from car windows and the violent highlights of the evening's news. What is most useful and engaging about this book is that Venkatesh presents the residents of the Robert Taylor Homes as people, and manages to hol [...]


    5. An important work of ethnography, American Project is both a history of how and why the Robert Taylor Homes came to be, how the choices made from the very beginning doomed the viability of the program, and is also the social history of some of those who lived there. The government agencies that built the projects were unwilling, from the beginning, to provide adequate maintenance. Ineffective policing strategies pitted residents against those who were to have provided their security. Some famili [...]


    6. Similar to the Code of the Street, Sudhir Venkatesh’s, “American Project,” is an in the field ethnographic study of the Robert Taylor public housing projects in Chicago. Over a period of ten long years, Venkatesh studied the community, the gangs, violence, and the everyday struggles of those living within. Going further than just an outsider looking in, Venkatesh went so far as to develop relationships with almost everyone inside, making himself a member of the community. Through his obser [...]


    7. Academic look at the history of the Robert Taylor Homes public housing complex in Chicago. The author basically does a sociological study at the lives and struggles of the residents, how they fight for police protection, city services, and apartment repairs from the housing authority. He details the split between tenants who want to work with gang members to keep violence down and solve other problems and those who repudiate the gangs and don't want to work with them. I liked the book but though [...]


    8. This book is a beautiful account of life in the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago, the largest housing project (since torn down) in the United States. Too often housing projects are seen as terrible because of either negligent welfare queens and their dysfunctional families or because of hapless poor people treaded on by the government and a racist society. Venkatesh avoids both of these pitfalls by looking at Robert Taylor through the eyes of its inhabitants and evaluating its successes and failur [...]


    9. Everytime I rode the Red Line from Hyde Park during my undergraduate years, there would be one fewer building of the Robert Taylor projects. It was always amazing to me that people lived in these buildings, and that while its inhabitants suffered greatly at the hands of societal indifference, they still associated with Robert Taylor Homes some good memories.The Venkatesh gets buried in the CHA/gang politics at times. Nevertheless fascinating.


    10. While I thought it dry at times, and not nearly as fast a read as "Gang Leader For A Day" by the same author, this was a fascinatingly well researched book that really looked at the state of affairs at the Robert Taylor Homes, which was already in decline as I entered my teenage years. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the factors that contributed to the decaying project lifestyle, and in what factors attribute to the rise of "gang culture"


    11. Unfortunately, I just finished Ghettoside and this book does not even touch Jane Leovy's book. I would recommend that and the Pruitt Igoe documentary if you have an interest in large scale housing projects. This books also feels more dated than it should, probably due to the gang chapters that seem to drag on. I kept waiting for some grand conclusions about the projects, but found none. I wanted this to be interesting, but it just wasn't.


    12. An insightful book that shows the reasons behind why Robert Taylor public housing was a failure - but, also shows the efforts taken by the residents to NOT make this happen. Very interesting look into the way that our society approaches public housing. Immediate follow-up: Sudhir Venkatesh book on "Gang Leader for a Day" - which talks about his friendship with a gang leader (out of his experience at Robert Taylor) over the last 10 years.


    13. The book is mostly the history of the Robert Taylor complex in Chicago, from its creation to its end. It focuses a lot on the dynamics in the relations between the Chicago Housing Authority, the police, the tenants and the gangs, the different conflicts and events and the politics involved.The language makes the book a bit hard to read.


    14. Finishing this one almost killed me. Way to take a topic and academicize the last gasping breath of interest out of it, Venkatesh. I don't know why I finished it, I really don't. Anyway, if you've any inclination to pick this up, rent The Wire instead. Same story, much more enjoyable way of taking it in.


    15. The writing is a bit stilted and grad student-ish, but the history and data conveyed are so complete and worthwhile. This is the serious scholarly work which complements Venkatesh's memoir "Gang Leader for a Day." I almost have to recommend them together- I feel like I really got the whole picture reading them back-to-back.


    16. Interesting look into the culture of the Robert Taylor Homes.I struggled with reading the book at times because the chapters just flow one into the other. It also felt at times like I was reading the same thing over and over again. I found Gang Leader for a Day a more enjoyable read, but perhaps less educational.



    17. Not finished yet, but I'd go so far as to suggest you put down what you're currently reading and pick this up. This is painful to read, in parts, but one-of-a-kind insightful.


    18. I read this and then watched the first season of The Wire. Same exact thing. Both excellent views into a reality we'd all probably rather ignore.


    19. Sleep-inducing academic prose, incisive analysis mixed in with boosterism, fascinating historical story that devolved into a boring analysis of insitutional power dynamics.A definite meh.




    20. Excellent book that looks at the development of Chicago high-rise housing projects, the goals of the planners and what actually happened. A real eye-opening read!




    21. I am really interested in the subject of this book and I got the feeling I would like the guy who wrote it if I met him…but for some reason I got really bored and stopped reading.


    22. I didn't expect to like this book and I certainly have some critiques of Venkatesh, but overall it was easy to read and I learned things.


    23. Oh! So that's how the projects started as a novel concept but ended up failing miserably. 90% funding cuts in the '80's didn't help any either


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