Leah Efken: Socioeconomic Differences, St. Louis; Cincinnati

Introduction

The United States faces a host of problems, many of which are not a singular burden for this nation alone. However, the U.S. is behind peer nations in establishing racial equality. Numerous protests—both violent and peaceful—of the months spanning 2014 and 2015 have highlighted the pent-up frustration of many American citizens. Expressions of anger and sadness at the unfortunate deaths of multiple victims due to racism and inequality have persisted in the headlines for months.

Despite a legal end to racial segregation in this nation decades ago, evidence of racism still exists in housing, income rates, and levels of health or quality of life. These disparities can be found at the national level, but also at a much smaller, more local level. In many cities, there is a pattern of race correlating with income; African-Americans earn far less than their white counterparts. And this discrepancy translates into norms that all but dictate where certain groups are allowed to live—based on their race, but hidden behind an economic excuse.

Metropolitan areas throughout the United States exhibit similar patterns of organization and development: an urban business hub, a midtown with a mix of housing and business, and sprawling residential suburbs. Cincinnati, Ohio, and St. Louis, Missouri, are two such metropolises, but unlike many American cities, the changes between the urban, midtown, and suburban areas are not gradual between wealth and race. Cincinnati and St. Louis both recognize neighborhoods as defined areas with different community organizational patterns and methods to enact political change—much like other cities consist of municipalities or townships inside the city limits. These neighborhoods feature characteristics and landmarks that make them special and unique, but there is a distinct lack of continuity or unity between them. In both Cincinnati and St. Louis, there may be mere blocks or streets that separate the rich from the poor, the black from the white; neighbors seeing out their windows just how the other half lives, while not living that way themselves. These neighborhoods—Evanston and Hyde Park in Cincinnati and Vandeventer and the Central West End in St. Louis—and their differences are the subjects of this analysis, specifically, how the disparities arose between the neighborhoods, and how they and their effects and consequences compare between the two cities.

Historically, the effects of changing transportation systems, housing policies (both federal and state level), social movements, and city planning for urban development post-World War II helped shape the neighborhoods’ cultures, characteristics, and demographics. Over time, these demographics have come to define the residents’ abilities to achieve certain outcomes—particularly of health, education, and income levels. These determining factors—i.e. your birthplace’s influence on your life expectancy—are different between the neighborhoods, but the same across the two cities. Understanding how these factors originated, as well as their human effects constitute the body of this analysis. On a forward-looking level, it is also important to question why these factors still persist even after decades of legal and judicial change. The resultant consequences—namely incidents of violence and unrest, movements for change, and damage to city pride—cause residents to question the purpose of a city, and to wonder how their city can be its best for all citizens.

Cincinnati

Cincinnati’s fifty-two unique neighborhoods create an overall eclectic mix of citizens, although the variances are not evenly distributed. Numerous different religious, ethnic, and racial groups contribute their diverse and lively qualities to the Queen City, further revealing differences between the city’s neighborhoods. It is easy to see differences between the neighborhoods; a quick drive around the city reveals striking dissimilarities in housing quality and races of residents walking about their neighborhood. Each neighborhood has official status in city government proceedings—including their own Community Councils—with the Cincinnati City Council members promising to keep each one in mind during policy- and decision-making while running the city. Although this style of organization is not uncommon across the nation, it certainly leads to variance in the governance of each neighborhood, as well as complicating the city’s direction and leadership as a whole. The complications are due to the differences between the neighborhoods and their peoples’ needs; citizens of Evanston are bound to have drastically different needs than the needs of their neighbors in Hyde Park. A fuller description of these two neighborhoods’ demographics can be found in the table later in this section, but Figure 1[1] provides a visual description of the differences throughout Cincinnati’s neighborhoods.

Efken Fig 1
Figure 1: This map depicts the economic divisions across the city of Cincinnati, using Median Household Income from 2011. The placement of numerous pink regions bordering orange regions, while the purple only directly borders orange once, reflects the lack of income integration throughout the city.

Xavier University, one of two major institutions of higher education in the Cincinnati area, is located in Evanston and somewhat contradicts the case study at hand. The private Jesuit University and its students and faculty, on the whole being whiter and wealthier, tend not to fit the average demographics of Evanston. However, the University tries to instill the Jesuit mission of being men and women for others, including goals of social justice and equity. To that end, the University stands to offer insight and assistance to any process geared towards making Cincinnati more equal.

(from evanstoncincinnati.org)

In 2005, a group of Xavier University scholars wrote a piece highlighting Cincinnati’s different community layouts and organization in “Religion, Race, Conflict, and Civic Pluralism in Cincinnati.”[2] The study by Anas Malik and other political intellectuals from Xavier University explains that various neighborhoods reacted differently to city and national events, reactions that were dependent on, or at least related to, the demographic makeup of each neighborhood. These local scholars’ article reveals the effects of the municipalities’ differences on the city, asserting that differing reactions to events may be the result of “polarizing cleavages [which] exist when groups are separate and package a variety of attributes exclusively in their members, such as race, income level and profession, and religion.”[3] Acknowledging the existence of social divisions and their effects is the focus of their study; local recognition of the discrepancies supports the idea in this analysis that the social divisions are problematic for city unity. Even without such insightful studies as Malik’s (et al), it is not difficult to see the striking differences between Cincinnati’s neighborhoods: “casual visitors to Cincinnati often note such diversity, and frequently comment on the apparent ethnic homogeneity in some neighborhoods.”[4] Just as the freshman at Xavier University notices the stark contrast between the neighborhoods and becomes accustomed to it, so the average tourist will undoubtedly notice it as well—each neighborhood seems to have a ‘type’, and these types may sit bordering one another, without mixing, without interacting.

The differences in Hyde Park and Evanston, for example, are extremely noticeable. The existence of a wealthy, beautified,[5] educated population, which is situated immediately next-door to a poorer and less educated population living in more neglected properties is both mind-boggling, and almost illogical. The common image for city population is a gradual progression from rich to poor, often in a linear fashion or in concentric circles, as once was the norm. For decades, the most common school of thought on city spreads was called the ‘zonal’ or ‘concentric ring theory,’ proponed by Chicago sociologist E.W. Burgess during the 1920s and 1930s. His theory stated that “based on assumptions that included a uniform land surface, universal access to a single-centered city, free competition for space, and the notion that development would take place outward from a central core…the city would tend to form a series of concentric zones.” There existed three zones, a Central Business District, a transitional zone and a commuter zone; Figure 2 depicts and describes these zones.[6]

Figure 2: Burgess explained the three zones in the following manner: CBD—a central core, outward from which development would take place. Transitional—a region where older private houses were being converted to offices and light industry or subdivided to form smaller dwelling units; succeeded by a zone of working-men’s homes, which included some of the oldest residential buildings in the city and stable social groups. Beyond this, newer and larger dwellings were to be found, occupied by the middle classes. Commuters—extended beyond the continuous built-up area of the city where a considerable portion of the zone’s population was employed.

However, Cincinnati’s demographic mix appears as a sporadic, darts-thrown-on-a-board ‘pattern’ (see Figure 1). Taking the two neighborhoods of Hyde Park and Evanston, here are selections of the latest census demographics:

Total Population

Median Household Income

Caucasian Population

African-American Population

Population in Poverty

GED or Higher

Evanston[7] 9,158 $23,637 29% 67% 17% 79%
Hyde Park[8] 13,356 $74,053 91% 3% 21% 97%

It is clear that differences, and inequalities, exist between these two neighborhoods. But how did Hyde Park and Evanston come to be so drastically different? Much of the story comes down to the urban development and city planning after World War II.

Prior to the 1930s, Evanston had been a primarily white community, which was annexed into Cincinnati in 1903. During the 1950s, as wages, employment, and housing prices changed, the “whites left Evanston at a rate of over 1,000 people per month while blacks migrated to Evanston at a rate of over 1,200 people per month.”[9] At that rate, by the time that I-71 was completely built, Evanston was more than 75% African-American; the newly-constructed highways directly aided this period of ‘white flight’. In the second half of the twentieth century, individual transportation was on the rise thanks to the popularity and accessibility of the automobile, and scores of cities were expanding their road systems. Mass-produced automobiles eased and incited the flight of wealthier families to move beyond the city center.[10]

Nationally, the reach of the interstate highway system increased by leaps and bounds, and hardly any major city was left without highway travel options. Cincinnati was no exception. In 1947, the route for I-71 was created, and building began in 1951. By 1948, development for I-75 had begun, and was completed in 1963; I-71 was finished in 1974.[11] I-71 is particularly relevant to the Evanston development story as it runs right through the neighborhood. The highway physically tore through the neighborhood, destroying the historic Evanston community. Businesses and homes were removed, and residents had a harder time accessing things they needed such as grocery stores, laundry facilities, and their jobs. As life grew more difficult in Evanston, the community declined into lower economic standing, including increased poverty rates and decreased levels of income.

Hyde Park Square (from Legendary Custom Homes)
Hyde Park Square

Directly to the east lies Hyde Park, the wealthier of the two neighborhoods in this analysis, and among the wealthiest in all of Cincinnati. Referencing the above table, it is clear that Hyde Park is well off, and faring far better than the Evanston population, according to common societal ideals of success such as income or educational attainment. There is a reason why regional news articles focus on the poorer neighborhoods for discussion, and why affluent places like Hyde Park are not usually the center of attention when it comes to finding leading examples of community building or problem-solving. A neighborhood like Hyde Park has the capability—financially, educationally, and organizationally—of driving change and solving problems when they arise. Other, less unified, neighborhoods are not so lucky, as their compositions—perhaps a lack of business due to an unwelcome highway, for instance—are less capable of financing their needs, as illustrated in Figure 3.[12]

The discrepancies between neighborhoods are not going unnoticed by all local Cincinnatians. The August 2015 issue of CityBeat featured a remarkable analysis of economic and racial segregation still existent in Cincinnati. The article, “That Which Divides Us: Pervasive economic segregation in predominantly black neighborhoods continues to oppress many Cincinnatians,” lists Hyde Park as the neighborhood with the fourth highest median household income throughout all of Cincinnati.[13] According to the Census 2010 data, Hyde Park has an almost totally Caucasian population (91%, recall from the earlier table).

Figure 3 The image above shows the highest and lowest 10% of socioeconomic status in Cincinnati from 2010. The red shape on the left, Evanston, features some of the lowest 10% socioeconomically of Cincinnatians, while its neighboring red shape on the right, Hyde Park, is totally comprised of the highest 10% of Cincinnatians, from a socioeconomic standpoint.
Figure 3: The image above shows the highest and lowest 10% of socioeconomic status in Cincinnati from 2010. The red shape on the left, Evanston, features some of the lowest 10% socioeconomically of Cincinnatians, while its neighboring red shape on the right, Hyde Park, is totally comprised of the highest 10% of Cincinnatians, from a socioeconomic standpoint.

Author Nick Swartsell correctly acknowledges, “Cincinnati’s economic segregation doesn’t always cleave to neighborhood names.”[14] However, there is something to be said for the instantaneous connotation understood when someone mentions Hyde Park; the mind makes a connection between “Hyde Park” and ideas like ‘wealth, white, rich, fancy, pretty, smart, employed’.

Certainly no one is condemning or shaming the wealthy for having earned what they have, or having worked hard towards their education, or taking pride in a beautiful home or neighborhood. However, if Hyde Park can be rich and Caucasian whilst neighboring Evanston is poor and African American, then the connection between race and income is clear. Even today, in the 21st century, persistent segregation and racism continue to pervade many cities throughout the U.S., built on decades of infrastructural changes and damaging public policies. Swartsell’s piece helpfully explains the federal and state policies that led Cincinnati to where it is today—the racism in housing legislation and predatory financial practices, to name a few.

In the period before World War II, the federal government tried to assist the efforts of numerous cities across the country that were trying to revamp their downtown business or urban districts, to implement public housing projects, or to revitalize the city as a whole. The most influential piece of legislation was the 1934 Federal Housing Act, “which put federal backing behind private bank lending, [and] mandated surveys categorizing neighborhoods based on their riskiness.”[15] Out of this act grew the procedure known today as ‘redlining’, where “black or integrated neighborhoods, seen as volatile, were marked out in red on insurance maps, and financing for homes and businesses in these areas was more difficult and expensive to obtain, if it could be obtained at all.”[16] The Federal Housing Act thus had underlying motives for racial and class segregation, but went even further by requiring all new public housing units to be racially divided.[17]

Challenges of housing reform persisted even after World War II, prompting cities like Cincinnati to rethink certain urban areas, particularly ghetto and slum areas. While the new public policies for zoning and housing codes were introduced with good intentions like preventing spread of decay and improving quality of life and housing, the policies resulted in further segregation. As historic Cincinnati expert Charles Casey-Leininger explains, there was a “Cincinnati metropolitan master plan of 1948,” aimed at achieving two goals: one “called for leveling most of the basin’s slums and replacing them with lower-density private and public housing”; the other goal “was a network of limited-access superhighways linking all parts of the metropolitan area.”[18] As we have seen, the highways were successfully built, but that added infrastructure and the leveling of the basin resulted in “the elimination of thousands of units of housing and the displacement and relocation of huge numbers of people,”[19] causing city officials and public planners to scramble for more zoning and housing codes to fix the problems. What actually developed was the creation of the Second Ghetto; further racial segregation in Cincinnati.

Federal and state changes such as legislation and infrastructural reforms—I-75 and I-71 specifically—played clear roles in Cincinnati’s organization and demographic spread. Returning to the topic of the influence of transportation further explains how Cincinnati’s neighborhoods came to be so split. City analysts, economists, and historians such as University of Chicago scholar Mehmet Yorukoglu have seen patterns of transportation technology’s effects on a city over time, in cities like Cincinnati. As transportation technology improves, the wealthy are the first to have access to it, and it is the lower income groups—historically divided racially—who do not get to take advantage of it. This was evident in the invention of the automobile; the wealthy that purchased cars could then afford to live farther from their work, thus beginning the suburbanization movement, and the beginnings of economic separation. In 1969, for instance, of the poorest 20% of American households, only 45% owned a car; in contrast, 97% of the richest 20% of American households owned a car.[20] Yorukoglu explains that as this technology dropped in price and became more widely accessible, it allowed the lower income groups to move farther out as well, driving[21] the wealthy people back into the city, which was undergoing revitalization and gentrification. This relationship between transportation and income equality (or lack thereof) is incredibly important to a city’s developmental history.[22]

Cincinnati Streetcar Map (from Metro Cincinnati)

Cincinnati has experienced this pattern repeatedly during multiple periods of its history. The aforementioned interstate highway system certainly facilitated the exodus of wealthy white residents away from downtown, into Evanston, and then again later out of Evanston into wealthier, less black, areas. Still today, the city’s neighborhoods are experiencing an advent of new transportation technology leading to demographic alterations. For instance, the Streetcar will bring professionals—predominantly younger and white—back towards Cincinnati’s Central Business District and Over-the-Rhine, because these individuals will have the purchasing power to ride the Streetcar. However, a side effect will be—and already has been for a few years—the gentrification of OTR; the displacement of some native residents and others who will be unable to use the Streetcar at its first introduction. On the other hand, the introduction of new residents and their incomes may improve the neighborhood in terms of diversity and property value, as some authors suggest gentrification does less harm to original residents than is commonly assumed.[23]

Transportation, legislative, and economic or financial changes in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries each contributed to Cincinnati’s current demographic breakdown as factors that combined to create a city with racial and economic disparities. The two neighborhoods of Hyde Park and Evanston have residents who lead drastically different existences from their neighbors, despite living mere streets or feet away from their fellow Cincinnatians. Transportation, urban, and infrastructural planning all contributed to the distinctions of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods, creating inequalities between residents of the same city. However, Cincinnati is not alone in facing these challenges.

St. Louis

Comprised of more than 75 distinct neighborhoods, the City of St. Louis exhibits a diverse spread of social, cultural, political, religious, and economic characteristics. In some respects, St. Louis is similar to Cincinnati; for instance, both cities were settled alongside major rivers—the Mississippi and the Ohio, respectively. Additionally, both cities are part of a larger metropolitan county area—St. Louis County and Hamilton County—that has captured much of each region’s population and economic wealth. However, there are also a number of differences between the two cities: St. Louis feels, and is, more sprawling, whereas Cincinnati is denser; Cincinnati’s seven hills give the region a unique character, whereas St. Louis is far flatter.

But the more important aspect of comparison between the two cities is a shared trait of sporadic demographic inequalities. As was explored in the Cincinnati section, the demographic spread found in St. Louis is just as unequal; St. Louis’ neighborhoods vary greatly in their economic and racial characteristics. Furthermore, the jarring differences between adjacent neighborhoods in St. Louis closely resembles the same pattern explored in the Cincinnati neighborhoods of Evanston and Hyde Park. This section focuses on the demographic differences between Central West End (predominantly Caucasian and upper-middle income) and Vandeventer (majority African American and low-income).

Arguably, the demographic divisions in St. Louis’ neighborhoods are somewhat more gradual. Figure 4[24], below, shows a map of St. Louis with similar income breakdowns to Figure 1 in ‘Cincinnati’; a slight pattern of concentric rings is visible in the St. Louis income distribution, unlike the ‘dart-board’ style of neighborhood wealth found across Cincinnati’s neighborhoods. Topographically, this difference could be attributed to Cincinnati’s many hills, whereas St. Louis’ is more flat; Burgess’ theory assumes uniform landscape as a key part of how a city may develop in concentric circles.

Figure 4: This map of St. Louis shows the graduated rings of income level throughout the city. Neighborhoods and municipalities are highlighted according to their average household income level in 2011. Orange represents incomes of $45,247 or less, pink corresponds to incomes between $45,248 and $80,000, and purple represents incomes of $80,001 or greater.
Figure 4: This map of St. Louis shows the graduated rings of income level throughout the city. Neighborhoods and municipalities are highlighted according to their average household income level in 2011. Orange represents incomes of $45,247 or less, pink corresponds to incomes between $45,248 and $80,000, and purple represents incomes of $80,001 or greater.

Of course, the pattern is not perfect, but there are some levels of commonality visible in the spread of income throughout St. Louis. The orange areas are all adjacent, and the pink regions enter steadily, staying with one another until the purple areas begin to emerge. On the contrary, Cincinnati’s neighborhoods featured far fewer levels of gradation in their change in income.

To turn to the two specific St. Louis neighborhoods in analysis, the Central West End and Vandeventer exhibit similarly striking disparate characteristics as Hyde Park and Evanston. Central West End sits directly next to Forest Park, one of St. Louis’ most prized attraction areas, featuring acre up acre of open green space, a zoo, the art museum, an outdoor theater, golf courses, and a history museum. Inside the Central West End are fine dining, independent shopping, a Catholic Cathedral and middle-to-upper income-level housing; the area is undeniably upscale.

Situated directly east from the Central West End (hereafter referred to as CWE), is Vandeventer. Like many other features of St. Louis, its name is the only truly French characteristic that remains from the days of French settlers. Vandeventer is often an afterthought, overshadowed by its successful and intriguing neighbor. The disparities between the two neighborhoods are evident, particularly by race, as the table below depicts.

Total Population

Median Household Income[25]

Caucasian Population

African-American Population

Population in Poverty[26]

GED or Higher[27]

Vandeventer[28] 1,682 $34,030 1% 95% 36.4% 69.4%
Central West End[29] 14,471 $34,991 58% 28% 28.9% 77.8%

While the differences in population size undoubtedly has an effect, the percentages of each neighborhoods’ demographics speak volumes. It is hard to believe that two places could really be so absolutely segregated—albeit unofficially—in the 21st century.

The factors that help explain the demographic spread of St. Louis are common threads throughout many American metropolitan areas. In the post-World War II era, St. Louis, like many other cities, undertook urban renewal development projects. Along St. Louis’ riverfront in 1940, construction changed the waterfront district forever, soon followed by the building of the historic and symbolic Gateway Arch.[30] This period of expansion and revitalization between 1940-1980 helped establish the pattern of demographic disparities in existence even today, decades later. It was a time “characterized by rapid metropolitan expansion, massive white flight, deepening poverty and segregation in the inner city, and a gripping pandemic of disinvestment from the city’s manufacturing, commercial, and residential”[31] sectors. The white flight and poverty increases are evident by the city’s demographic factors; even just the two neighborhoods of CWE and Vandeventer themselves support this historic shift. St. Louis University professors Joseph Heathcott and Máire Agnes Murphy further explain that public policies for postwar development or investment culminated in growth in “a highly uneven spatial array”[32] across the metropolis. Presently, it will be clear that the CWE received far more of the resources and investment activity, in ways like Forest Park’s numerous activities and venues, while other St. Louis neighborhoods like Vandeventer were not assisted by the regional development plans.

St. Louis (from Wikimedia Commons)

In 2004, economic scholars Richard C. D. Fleming and Linda G. Leonard wrote about the uniqueness of the government and economic networks in the metropolitan area of St. Louis. The Missouri Constitution determined the city’s boundaries in 1876, and later reflected the decision to separate the City of St. Louis from St. Louis County.[33] This is far different from the majority of United States cities, and certainly from Cincinnati, where the city limits are contained within the county’s border; even despite the three ballot measures throughout the 20th century, proposing to merge the two, this separation has sustained.[34]

Why is this distinction important? Many of the attractions and tourist venues in the St. Louis region are located in the City of St. Louis, but also enjoyed by County residents; the issue of funding thus reveals a need for both city and county to contribute to the upkeep and development of the city. Fleming and Leonard explain that the “exodus of population from St. Louis City to the county had eroded the financial basis for the city’s chief cultural institutions,”[35] and some solution was needed to ensure the preservation of the wonderful pieces of St. Louis culture. Thus, in 1970, the Missouri General Assembly voted in approval of creating the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District; as its own tax district (known as ZMD Tax District), the area was give the ability “to tax property owners to provide financial support for the Saint Louis Zoo and the Saint Louis Art Museum. Voters in the city and the county then approved identical tax proposals to fund the district.”[36]

Returning to the CWE’s prominence and profitability over Vandeventer. With all of the collaborative financing for Forest Park and its many attractions—including the ZMD Tax District—the surrounding city neighborhoods, like Vandeventer, missed out on the revitalization, and have fallen behind in economic success, among other metrics. In 2000, voters in the St. Louis metropolitan area approved a measure to “improve the environment and economic development,”[37] known as Great Rivers Greenway. The purpose was to promote civic space and protect the environment. As the executive director of Great Rivers Greenway, David Fisher, stated: “‘Our waterways and green spaces have a profound power to unite our region. These natural features join our shared interests and need not be seen or experienced as boundaries.”’[38] Fisher was correct, and the improvements made to St. Louis regional parks, waterways, and open spaces since the 2000s have been truly transformational. The CWE directly benefits from the ZMD Tax District, because of its proximity, almost residing inside of the CWE. However, problems still remain throughout St. Louis, the effects of which often become a burden to those who cannot afford to fix them.

The 2010 data from the Urban Institute, as presented for Cincinnati in Figure 3, also exists for the St. Louis metropolitan area. Below in Figure 5, it is clear that within the City of St. Louis, some of the lowest ten percent of socioeconomic status live in the neighborhood of Vandeventer, the red outline on the right, or easternmost. And while none of the highest ten percent of socioeconomic status live in the CWE, those residents are far closer to the wealth than Vandeventer’s. Access to civic spaces like Forest Park and its many attractions may be seen as a form of wealth as well; through this lens, CWE residents are vastly better off than Vandeventer, for they have easier accessibility and closer proximity to these gathering spaces, spaces in which St. Louisans foster community and civic life.

Figure 5: The city limits of St. Louis, not shown on the map, extend just to the West of CWE, the left outline. While it is true that there were no members of the highest 10% living in the CWE in 2010, it is far wealthier still than Vandeventer, which had some portion of the lowest 10% of socioeconomic status St. Louisans living in that neighborhood (the right outline).
Figure 5: The city limits of St. Louis, not shown on the map, extend just to the West of CWE, the left outline. While it is true that there were no members of the highest 10% living in the CWE in 2010, it is far wealthier still than Vandeventer, which had some portion of the lowest 10% of socioeconomic status St. Louisans living in that neighborhood (the right outline).

Admittedly, the differences between these two neighborhoods are less drastic than the differences found between Evanston and Hyde Park in Cincinnati. However, the effects of the differences are the same across both cities. These further effects, results of the twentieth century policies and decisions that created the disparities between St. Louis’ neighborhoods, are examined in the next section in conjunction with Cincinnati’s effects, due to their similarities.

Effects and Conclusion

The differences between neighborhoods’ races and income levels—among other factors—undeniably exist. But what exactly are the effects of these disparities that have been explored in detail? To start, one feels a sort of internal dissonance when traveling between the neighborhoods, at times looking in the face of poverty, their own wealth a symbol of others’ desires. This internal conflict often translates into bigger, external problems. For one, the city as a whole is segregated, not unified; a lack of city pride might cause citizens to question what a city is, or further, what makes a good city?

This is not to suggest that neither Cincinnati nor St. Louis residents do not have pride for their cities. In fact, quite the opposite is evidenced by love of sports teams, famous people from the area, perhaps their alma maters, and just general hometown pride. However, the level disaccord between citizens’ internal ideals and the harsher realities of their city’s problems can result in disheartening and even wrong unjust practices or events.

By this time, it is hard to find someone who is unfamiliar with the incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, which is situated just on the northern edge of St. Louis. The death of an African-American teenager, Michael Brown, Jr., at the hands of a Caucasian police officer, Darren Wilson, caused serious uproar and questioning of justice not only in St. Louis, but across the United States, and even made some international news.[39] Examining the situation more closely, one important factor may be that the police officer did not live in the area of his jurisdiction; he lived about seventeen miles south of his policing region (Ferguson). Perhaps this division between his wealthier home-place and the poorer state of his workplace had an effect on the events of that fateful August day in 2014. While acknowledging the fact that the Ferguson incident does not perfectly align to the neighborhood contexts previously analyzed, it is relevant nonetheless. Ferguson may not border the municipality of Crestwood—former Officer Wilson’s area of residence—but within the St. Louis region, there is certainly a wide pattern of segregation of race and income. The southern part of the region is inhabited primarily by Caucasian residents, and the northern region by African-American residents.

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/michael-brown-shootingn572381
Protesters in St. Louis, October 2014 (from NBC News)

On the one hand, the incident of Michael Brown, Jr.’s death leaves a terrible blemish on the pages of St. Louis’ history. Alternatively, the city can—and has already begun to—use this unfortunate event as a turning point to overcome multiple types of inequality in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon organized the Ferguson Commission—an independent group—in November of 2014, charged with conducting “a ‘thorough, wide-ranging and unflinching study of the social and economic conditions that impede progress, equality, and safety in the St. Louis region.”’[40] For the duration of one year, the Ferguson Commission researched, analyzed, and synthesized findings of problems and potential solutions to the St. Louis region; in particular, they examined the following key considerations: racial equity, generational change, and health equity.[41] The Ferguson Commission published their report in September of 2015, a report which presented some truly alarming findings, many of which mirror problems in the Cincinnati region, to be addressed shortly.

Overall, the idea of generational change was at the forefront of the Commission’s endeavors. The hope of the Ferguson Commission is that change for the future will benefit coming generations, and that problems of the past, developed over several generations, will remain in the past. For the topic of racial equity, the group reported that out of the fifty largest metropolitan areas in the United States, St. Louis is the fifth most racially segregated. Differences in health equity speak volumes of the disappointing state of disconnects between pockets in metropolitan areas; the report states that “the life expectancy for a resident of zip code 63105 (Clayton), whose population is 9 percent Black, is 85 years. The life expectancy for a resident of zip code 63016 (North St. Louis), whose population is 95% Black, is 67 years old.”[42] Clearly, there is an injustice at work when a person’s zip code—perhaps one they will keep for their whole life—determines every outcome for them: income, education level, even how many years they can reasonably expect to live.

St. Louis undoubtedly has a number of serious problems. However, they are not the only metropolitan region to face these grave challenges. In 2001, Cincinnati faced its own wave of violent, race-based riots. This unrest began with the “police shooting of unarmed 19-year-old Timothy Thomas,”[43] which left the Cincinnati community feeling angry at the injustice and prevalent segregation in the region. Again, even as recent as the summer of 2015, the city received “national attention over the shooting death of a black man by a white University of Cincinnati police officer.”[44] Sadly, racism and physical segregation are not new to Cincinnati. However, the recent movement of #BlackLivesMatter have called into question the persistence of systematic racism and income inequality throughout the nation, which has brought awareness and even some small victories of change to regions of racial conflict (as partly inspiring to gubernatorial reviews like the Ferguson Commission).

Cincinnati also exhibits its share of health inequities between regions of different incomes and races. In 2015, Hamilton County—within which the city of Cincinnati is located—had its public health department conduct an examination of the county’s “well-being.” In the report, it found “a 17-year difference in life expectancy depending on ZIP code.”[45] Between the regions of Norwood (a neighbor to Evanston of the previous analysis) and Indian Hill (not far to the East of Hyde Park of the previous analysis), the life expectancy differed by as much as 17 years. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the national life expectancy as 78.8 years old; but the public health department of Hamilton County found the life expectancy in Norwood to be between 69.9 and 73.3 years old. Contrarily, in Indian Hill, the life expectancy averaged between 81.8 and 87 years old.[46] As aforementioned, there is a growing discomfort among residents—of all cities—that someone’s zip code can codify the events and outcomes of their lifetime.

Disparities between residents’ health and quality of life, income levels, and whether or not they face daily racism—all based on a person’s neighborhood or region of residence—are real, existing problems facing many metropolitan regions in the United States today. It might be easy to blame past generations or policies for the creation of these situations, but it is unacceptable to sit idly by and let them continue for another century or so. Residents in both the St. Louis and Cincinnati regions seem to be questioning the systemic injustices of their towns; optimistic conversations and policy changes are coming into effect, and will hopefully create lasting change for the better of future generations. The idea of what makes a city good, appears to be on the minds of numerous members of the millennial generation who want their peers—regardless of race or ethnicity or religion—to have the benefits they have, to live in a more just city, a world that is fairer to all people.

Notes

[1] Wholtone, Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4497367.

[2] Malik, Anas, et al. “Religion, Race, Conflict, and Civic Pluralism in Cincinnati.” International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities & Nations 5, no. 3 (December 2005): 7-14. SocINDEX with Full Text, EBSCOhost (accessed September 3, 2015).

[3] Malik, et al. “Religion, Race, Conflict, and Civic Pluralism in Cincinnati.” 7.

[4] Malik, et al. “Religion, Race, Conflict, and Civic Pluralism in Cincinnati.” 9.

[5] Readers will find this this term applies both to the residents’ physical appearances and to the condition of their properties; fashion boutiques and detailed landscaping are equally normal in Hyde Park.

[6] Dear, Michael, and Steven Flusty. “Postmodern Urbanism.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 88, no. 1 (March 1998): 50-72. JSTOR (2563976).

[7] “Evanston: Statistical Neighborhood Approximation.” Department of Planning and Buildings, City of Cincinnati (Census 2010) (April 2012): 1-10.

[8] “Hyde Park: Statistical Neighborhood Approximation.” Department of Planning and Buildings, City of Cincinnati (Census 2010) (April 2012): 1-11.

[9] Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning, The History and Effects of I-71 & I-75.

[10] LeRoy, Stephen F., and Jon Sonstelie. “Paradise Lost and Regained: Transportation Innovation, Income, and Residential Location.” Journal of Urban Economics 13 (1983): 83-87.

[11] Xavier University, The History and Effects of I-71 & I-75, designed and edited by the students in Dr. Gabriel Gottlieb’s course “The Future of Justice” (Cincinnati: The James and Delrose Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning, Spring 2015).

[12] Pendall, Rolf, and Carl Hedman. “Inequality isn’t just about money; it’s also about where you live.” Urban Institute. http://datatools.urban.org/features/ncdb/top-bottom/index.html#7/40.250/-91.428.

[13] Swartsell, Nick. “That Which Divides Us.” CityBeat, August 26, 2015, 2.

[14] Swartsell, “That Which Divides Us,” 3.

[15] Swartsell, “That Which Divides Us,” 5.

[16] Swartsell, “That Which Divides Us,” 5.

[17] Swartsell, “That Which Divides Us,” 6.

[18] Casey-Leininger, Charles F, “Making the Second Ghetto in Cincinnati: Avondale, 1925-70,” in Race and the City: Work, Community, and Protest in Cincinnati, 1820-1970, ed. Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 240. http://fclresearch.com/publications/MakingtheSecondGhetto.pdf.

[19] Casey-Leininger, “Making the Second Ghetto in Cincinnati,” 240-241.

[20] LeRoy, and Sonstelie. “Paradise Lost and Regained,” 87.

[21] No pun intended.

[22] Yorukoglu, Mehmet. “The Decline of Cities and Inequality.” American Economic Review 92, no. 2 (May 2002): 191-197. America: History & Life EBSCOhost (accessed September 6, 2015).

[23] Cortright, Joe. “In Defense of Gentrification.” The Atlantic, October 31, 2015 http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/10/in-defense-of-gentrification/413425/.

[24] Wholtone, Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4497367.

[25] City-data, “Vandeventer neighborhood in St. Louis” (2013) and “Central West End neighborhood in St. Louis” (2013), http:// http://www.city-data.com/neighborhood/Vandeventer-Saint-Louis-MO.html.

[26] City-data, “Vandeventer” and “Central West End” (2013).

[27] City-data, “Vandeventer” and “Central West End” (2013).

[28] City of St. Louis, MO, Census Results (2010): “Vandeventer,” US Census Bureau, 2010.

[29] City of St. Louis, MO, Census Results (2010): “Central West End,” US Census Bureau, 2010.

[30] Heathcott, J., and M.A. Murphy. “Corridors of flight, zones of renewal: industry, planning and policy in making of metropolitan St. Louis, 1940-1980.” Journal Of Urban History 31, no. 2 (January 1, 2005): 151-189. Social Work Abstracts, EBSCOhost (accessed September 3, 2015).

[31] Heathcott and Murphy. “Corridors of flight, zones of renewal,” 151.

[32] Heathcott and Murphy. “Corridors of flight, zones of renewal,” 153.

[33] Fleming, Richard C.D., and Linda G. Leonard. “Regional collaboration and economic development, St. Louis style.” Economic Development Journal 3, no. 2 (Spring2004 2004): 11-20. Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed September 3, 2015). 11.

[34] Fleming and Leonard. “Regional collaboration and economic development, St. Louis style.” 11.

[35] Fleming and Leonard. “Regional collaboration and economic development, St. Louis style.” 13.

[36] Fleming and Leonard. “Regional collaboration and economic development, St. Louis style.” 13.

[37] Fleming and Leonard. “Regional collaboration and economic development, St. Louis style.” 14.

[38] Fleming and Leonard. “Regional collaboration and economic development, St. Louis style.” 14.

[39] The Ferguson Commission. Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity. St. Louis: The Ferguson Commission, 2015. September 14, 2015. https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2413166/fergusoncommissionreport-091415.pdf 12.

[40] The Ferguson Commission, Forward Through Ferguson, 12.

[41] The Ferguson Commission, Forward Through Ferguson, 15.

[42] The Ferguson Commission, Forward Through Ferguson, 15.

[43] Swartsell, “That Which Divides Us,” 1.

[44] Swartsell, “That Which Divides Us,” 1.

[45] Saker, Anne. “Report breaks down life expectancy in county.” The Cincinnati Enquirer, August 17, 2015.

[46] Saker, “Report breaks down life expectancy in county.”

Leah Efken (Class of 2016) graduated with an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and the Public and a minor in French. She was involved in a number of student organizations, including Alpha Sigma Nu, Phi Beta Kappa, French Club, and the Xavier University Chamber Orchestra. She will begin work as a Social Research Analyst at 1919 Investment Counsel in Cincinnati this summer. “Disparities and Consequences: Racial and Socioeconomic Differences Between Neighborhoods in St. Louis and Cincinnati” was advised by Dr. John Fairfield, of the History Department.

Sources Referenced

Casey-Leininger, Charles F, “Making the Second Ghetto in Cincinnati: Avondale, 1925-70,” in Race and the City: Work, Community, and Protest in Cincinnati, 1820-1970, ed. Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 232-257. http://fclresearch.com/publications/MakingtheSecondGhetto.pdf.

City-data, “Vandeventer neighborhood in St. Louis” (2013) and “Central West End neighborhood in St. Louis” (2013), http:// http://www.city-data.com/neighborhood/Vandeventer-Saint-Louis-MO.html.

City of St. Louis, MO, Census Results (2010): “Vandeventer,” US Census Bureau, 2010.

City of St. Louis, MO, Census Results (2010): “Central West End,” US Census Bureau, 2010.

Cortright, Joe. “In Defense of Gentrification.” The Atlantic, October 31, 2015 http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/10/in-defense-of-gentrification/413425/.

Dear, Michael, and Steven Flusty. “Postmodern Urbanism.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 88, no. 1 (March 1998): 50-72. JSTOR (2563976).

“Evanston: Statistical Neighborhood Approximation.” Department of Planning and Buildings, City of Cincinnati (Census 2010) (April 2012): 1-10.

Fleming, Richard C.D., and Linda G. Leonard. “Regional collaboration and economic development, St. Louis style.” Economic Development Journal 3, no. 2 (Spring2004 2004): 11-20. Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed September 3, 2015). 11-20.

Heathcott, J., and M.A. Murphy. “Corridors of flight, zones of renewal: industry, planning and policy in making of metropolitan St. Louis, 1940-1980.” Journal Of Urban History 31, no. 2 (January 1, 2005): 151-189. Social Work Abstracts, EBSCOhost (accessed September 3, 2015).

“Hyde Park: Statistical Neighborhood Approximation.” Department of Planning and Buildings, City of Cincinnati (Census 2010) (April 2012): 1-11.

LeRoy, Stephen F., and Jon Sonstelie. “Paradise Lost and Regained: Transportation Innovation, Income, and Residential Location.” Journal of Urban Economics 13 (1983): 67-89.

Malik, Anas, et al. “Religion, Race, Conflict, and Civic Pluralism in Cincinnati.” International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities & Nations 5, no. 3 (December 2005): 7-14. SocINDEX with Full Text, EBSCOhost (accessed September 3, 2015).

Pendall, Rolf, and Carl Hedman. “Inequality isn’t just about money; it’s also about where you live.” Urban Institute. http://datatools.urban.org/features/ncdb/top-bottom/index.html#7/40.250/-91.428.

Swartsell, Nick. “That Which Divides Us.” CityBeat (August 26, 2015): 1-15.

The Ferguson Commission. Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity. St. Louis: The Ferguson Commission, 2015 (September 14, 2015): 1-198. https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2413166/fergusoncommissionreport-091415.pdf.

Xavier University, The History and Effects of I-71 & I-75, designed and edited by the students in Dr. Gabriel Gottlieb’s course “The Future of Justice” (Cincinnati: The James and Delrose Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning, Spring 2015).

Yorukoglu, Mehmet. “The Decline of Cities and Inequality.” American Economic Review 92, no. 2 (May 2002): 191-197. America: History & Life EBSCOhost (accessed September 6, 2015).

Additional Resources

Casey-Leininger, Charles F. et al., “Going Home: the struggle for Fair Housing in Cincinnati, 1900-2007,” distributed by Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc. (HOME): (Winter 2008).

Evans, J.W. “A Brief Sketch of the Development of Negro Education in St. Louis, Missouri.” The Journal of Negro Education, 1938., 548, JSTOR Journals EBSCOhost (accessed September 3, 2015).

Hurley, Andrew. “Fiasco at Wagner Electric: Environmental Justice and Urban Geography in St. Louis.” Environmental History 2, no. 4 (October 1997): 460-81. JSTOR (3985609).

Karp, Michael. “The St. Louis Rent Strike of 1969: Transforming Black Activism and American Low-Income Housing.” Journal of Urban History 40, no. 4 (July 2014): 648-670. America: History & Life, EBSCOhost (accessed September 3, 2015).

Maciag, Mike. “Where Neighborhood Inequality is Most Severe.” Governing.com (June 30, 2015). http://www.governing.com/templates/gov_print_article?id=310975821.

Murray, Barbara B. “Metropolitan Interpersonal Income Inequality.” Land Economics 45, no. 1 (February 1969): 121. Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed September 6, 2015).

Pearce, Matt. “In Ferguson’s shadow, two lawsuits focus on inequalities.” Los Angeles Times (CA), December 19, 2014., Points of View Reference Center, EBSCOhost (accessed September 6, 2015).

“St. Louis Fed Report Finds Dramatic Rise in Income Inequality,” PR Newswire. July 28, 2008.

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