Quotes from Burgess, "Residential Segregation in American Cities"[a]

On the Varying Reactions of Ethnic Groups to "Negro Invasion" [b]

"Every residential community offers resistance to the intrusion of a new group of imputed inferior status whether on the basis of race, economic standing, or cultural difference. This resistance may manifest varying degrees of intensity. In the face of Negro invasion it may go to the extremes of violent opposition.

"This antagonism in northern cities appears to have been particularly intense with the Irish and at an earlier period with the Germans. Carter G. Woodson in his volume A Century of Negro Migration notes the rise early in the nineteenth century of race prejudice in northern cities against the free Negro.

"The first exhibition of this prejudices was seen among the lower classes of white people, largely Irish and German, who, devoted to menial labor, competed directly with the Negroes. It did not require a long time, however, for this feeling to react on the higher classes of whites where Negroes had settled in large groups.[7: Woodson, Carter G., A Century of Negro Migration, p. 41]

"At any rate, no instance has been noted in the literature where a Negro invasion succeeded in displacing the Irish in possession of a community. Yet, frequently, as notably in New York and Chicago, Negroes have pushed forward in the wake of retreating Jews. At the present time the Negroes in Chicago are invading two new areas, the Ghetto on the West Side and Little Sicily on the Lower North Side. It is rather significant to point out in passing the frequent propinquity of Negroes and Italian settlements in our large cities. The proximity of Negro and Italian communities in New York and Chicago is well known. Three of the other four cities, namely, Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, analyzed above for concentration of population groups, contained a ward with over over 10 per cent of the total Italian and Negro population of the city. In no one of the six cities, however, were wards found containing 10 per cent of both the Negro and the Polish population.

"This contrast suggests the importance of further study of the relative resistance of different immigrant groups in determining the direction of the movement of Negro population in northern cities." (112)On the Effect of "Negro Invasion" on Land Values and Success of Invasion in Areas of Resistance[b]

"3. A Study of Changes in Land Values Incident to Negro Invasion of an Area.--

"The entrance of the Negro into a white community results in an immediate apparent depreciation in land values.[9] This also results, but not always so rapidly, from any other racial or immigrant intrusion or from commercial and industrial encroachment. No study has, however, been made of the long time effect upon land values of Negro settlement. A cursory examination of the trend in land values from 1912 to 1928 as entered in 'Olcott's Land Values Blue Book' of Chicago seems to indicate that in time residential values tend slowly to recover from their losses, but that commercial values with little or no check, forge rapidly ahead.

"The fact is that Negroes frequently acquire sites in the direction of business and industrial growth. A Negro once owned property on Wall Street in New York. Two Negro churches with locations in and near the loop in Chicago were able to realize on the sale of their property enough to clear their mortgages and to purchase suitable sites further south in districts to which their parishioners had migrated. In the case of the Bethel American Methodist Episcopal Church this was only possible through the generous assistance of a wealthy white friend who advanced the sums necessary to prevent foreclosure of the mortgage.[10]

"More frequently, however, Negro property owners are not in position to take advantage of the future rise in land value. They have not been able in New York, for example, to profit as have certain institutions which have moved several times because they were able to hold the property until they could capitalize on each occasion upon the increase in land values.

"In certain cases where clashes have occurred upon the invasion by the Negro of a white residential area, a period of quiet follows in which it would seem the Negroes have been kept out. But actual study shows that in many cases the reverse is true. The Negro really had acquired property and his progress of penetration continued peacefully until he had obtained possession of the neighborhood. These situations merit further investigation." (114)

From: Ernest W. Burgess, "Residential Segregation in American Cities," in American Academy of Political and Social Science, The Annals: The American Negro, Volume CXXXX, November, 1928, 105-115, quotes on page 112 and 114.


[a] Alphabetical footnotes are those of the creator of this WWW page. Numerical footnotes are from the Burgess text itself.

[b] This title is assigned by the creator of the WWW page, and is not included in Burgess.

[9] "'In analyzing responsibility for depreciation, it is difficult to determine to just what extent the Negroes are there because of prior depreciation, and to what extent present depreciation is due to their presence. At present the fact stands out that Negro occupancy is an unmistakable symptom of depreciation--an indication that the value of property has fallen to their economic level, as well as an aid to depreciation in its last stages.' The Negro in Chicago, 1922, pp. 204-5."

[10] "Moore, R.E., History of Bethel A. M. E. Church, Chicago, Chicago, 1915, pp. 39-44.

This WWW page was created by Wendy Plotkin (wendy.plotkin@asu.edu) in 1998 and updated on 1 September 2003.