moving right along, part 2

so at the end of the last post i discussed the white person travel east:west migration narrative of cincinnati.  the next major story is the Great Migration from 1900-1950:

cincinnati migration 1900-1950

cincinnati migration 1900-1950

when telling this segment of cincinnati, the city changes greatly (from the white person east:west story). from henry louis taylor, jr:

“the city had a dual personality, a schizophrenic northern and southern personality occupying the same urban body. across time cincinnati would feel this duality–a northern city, a southern city: two cultures, two unreconciled strivings: two warring ideals in a single city. and throughout cincinnati’s history these warring souls produced constant tension while simultaneously providing Cincinnati with a unique culture and way of life. this duality, this dialectic, this contradiction, is central to understanding the history of cinci and its african american population.”

(i like taylor a lot, and i think his use here of dubois’ ideas of double consciousness and striving is bee-you-tiful)

but look at this city! does it bear any relation to that found in holt’s quote [did i not cite her name? how am i supposed to reference her? the art historian was holt] in the last post?  i used taylor here because he talks pretty, but bunch-lyons writing on the african american migration to cincinnati in the first half of the 20th c, adopts this description from gates exactly to talk about her topic (although look, i can can be excused a little bit for thinking major african-american migration began in/around 1870, because major concern for major african american migration began then [post-civil war lotsa people were bigtime concerned about the flood gates opening — though some cincinnati republicans thought, hey great, labor!) some ideas from the above quote:

  1. cincinnati’s culture is contingent on borderlands setting.
  2. this south:north “dialectic” comes especially into relief when talking about african americans
  3. (this is actually a point from bunch-lyons, not above) dates are 1900-1950
  4. as opposed to prior vision of holt’s image of cinci where east:west is a clean flow of persons and ideas, this is a “warring” “tension” city-thing.

CONCLUSION (things i conclude)

both of these quotes are more or less contemporaneously recent, 80s-ish.

for beginners, the fascinating thing is to have two such distinct ideas of the city floating around.  but this becomes big time-o relevant (for me) when you talk about migration.  migration as we all know is superimportante for urban america, at least in terms of civic boosters (talking ’bout Molotch 1976 and the “Urban Growth Machine Monster” [see that’s why i write a blog like this, because i can use the word monster. i’m not loosy-goosy enough here yet, being a bit too academic-y, but as my fingers start to loosen so shall i? {oh i intuite i will}]). [where was i?] oh migration is head-honcho important for cities.  now when you have two dominant city migration narratives, both associated with one of two large portions of your population, well they should be examined.  this is especially true since the migration narratives are broadly made to parallel two distinct periods of cincinnati’s history: A) cincinnati doing real good 1788-1870 = white people (um most of the white people); and B) cincinnati being Cincinnati 1870-1950 = (more or less the Great Migration).

i’m tired again, when i come back i’ll write baout how these are exaggerations.


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