> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: South Bronx, in New York City is the
> rough equivilent of Lawndale, a Chicago inner-city neighborhood ...
> The Jews grew very fearful of circumstances around there in the
> 1950's; by and large they all relocated to the north side Rogers Park ..
> Soon, the neighborhood got even too rough for
> middle class blacks and they mostly moved away ...
This is a story that has happened in many cities. It is more
accurately described as "middle class flight", as all ethnic groups
will flee a neighborhood when they no longer feel safe or they feel
the schools aren't safe for their kids, or the quality of life -- late
night wild noisy parties in the streets, public urination,
streetfights, shootings --become too much to deal with, particularly
by people not used to any of these things.
In my opinion, those who fled were unfairly labeled as racists or
elitist for abandoning the old neighborhood. I believe they weren't
the problem, rather, the fault lies with those who created the
disturbances and trouble. I don't believe urban advocates recognized
Not long ago there was a PBS series on the history of New York City.
The segment on the 1950s touched on this, but merely said people left
for the suburbs and left behind decayed neighborhoods and schools.
From what I've seen, I don't agree that such neighborhoods were
decayed, rather, the decay started afterwards from poor maintenance.
Secondly, that series didn't go into the reasons that people left for
It is true that some people want and can to move on and upward, they
may have more money and could afford a suburban split level instead of
a city rowhouse or apartment. But others are quite happy with their
existing house and would stay for the rest of their life. There is
one neighborhood in Phila (Rhawnhurst) that essentially evolved into a
huge senior citizen camp for that reason.
Phone connection: That neighborhood was/is servied by PIlgrim and
PIoneer. I think they came out of two different offices serving
different sections, but I was always confused on which PI was which.
As in most Phila CO's, each one had numerous exchange names rather
than one name and lots of digits.
The problem was that those who fled usually had more money than their
successors, which meant the tax base--critical to a city--declined as
well as economic activity. For the phone company, that meant the loss
of people using premium and profitable services (e.g. Touch Tone,
Trimline, multiple extensions, long distance) to those with bare bones
service or poor credit. In more recent years, the phone companies
have been ordered by the PUCs to carry deadbeats they'd formally cut
off for non payment. The rest of us have to make up that deficit.
> Chicago-Kedzie CO always had plenty of armed guards around the place,
> so the riots did not cause them anything other than a nuisance. At
> that point in time -- 1968 -- Kedzie still had a large Traffic Depart-
> ment operating room on the second and third floor of the building ...
Around that time there were tensions in New York City and NY Telephone
hosted an open house a traffic unit in a C.O. in a lousy neighborhood.
According to the New York Times, it was a successful event as the
neighbors learned the challenges the operators face and felt more
appreciated. The operators liked it too. They all brought in home
made food to share.
In those years a number of Bell companies did different things to
reach out to their communities. Open houses, using crews to rebuild
playgrounds, putting up a basketball court in a parking lot, etc. It
appears these were effective and reduced the number of attacks on
Vandalism on pay phones remained a very serious problem and is to this
day. But it wasn't just a city problem, in rural areas, open wire
insulators were a favorite target of shooters but a major disruption