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Geography of a Revolution

William Bunge

Publication Year: 2011

This on-the-ground study of one square mile in Detroit was written in collaboration with neighborhood residents, many of whom were involved with the famous Detroit Geographical Expedition and Institute. Fitzgerald, at its core, is dedicated to understanding global phenomena through the intensive study of a small, local place.

Beginning with an 1816 encounter between the Ojibwa population and the neighborhood’s first surveyor, William Bunge examines the racialized imposition of local landscapes over the course of European American settlement. Historical events are firmly situated in space—a task Bunge accomplishes through liberal use of maps and frequent references to recognizable twentieth-century landmarks.

More than a work of historical geography, Fitzgerald is a political intervention. By 1967 the neighborhood was mostly African American; Black Power was ascendant; and Detroit would experience a major riot. Immersed in the daily life of the area, Bunge encouraged residents to tell their stories and to think about local politics in spatial terms. His desire to undertake a different sort of geography led him to create a work that was nothing like a typical work of social science. The jumble of text, maps, and images makes it a particularly urgent book—a major theoretical contribution to urban geography that is also a startling evocation of street-level Detroit during a turbulent era.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xvi

There are few classic books in human geography, but Bill Bunge has written two of them: Theoretical Geography ([1962] 1966) and the one that you are holding in your hands, Fitzgerald: Geography of a Revolution ([1971 ] 2011). At times it seemed unlikely that either would see the light...

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pp. xvii-xviii

This book is dedicated to Miss Gwendolyn Warren and Mr. Cecil Erbaugh. Both are Americans of pre-Civil War stock, probably both are of pre-Revolutionary stock. Mr. Erbaugh cannot understand Miss Warren's brand of English. Miss Warren is bilingual. Miss Warren cannot understand Mr. Erbaugh's motivation...


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pp. xix-xxii

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pp. xxiii-xxvi

The purpose of this foreword is to strengthen the science of geography so that we can write more books of service to society. A two year delay between completion and publication of this book was due to difficulty in obtaining a publisher for such a "controversial" geography. Many fellow geographers from...

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pp. 1-4

July 25,1967: the soldiers patrol the streets of Fitzgerald in Northwest Detroit to discourage the neighbors from further looting.The Insurrection has shaken the neighborhood and America---yet nobody seems to know what to do. No square mile has been searched for answers to the problem as intensely...

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Is all that is left of earlier America the few farm homes lovingly planted with trees that the subdividers spared? Or the land, cleared by generations of families, that could now be cleared by a bulldozer in a few weeks? No. The historic geography of America has left its mark everywhere...

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Chapter I: Pioneers---Colored and White

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pp. 7-22

The number of nations that has "pioneered" in Fitzgerald is not known. Working back, we find America, Britain, France and Ojibwa. Then the national identities become murky. If national political units have always been as unstable as they are today, with at least one different nation occupying the same area...

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Chapter II: The Farms Prosper

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pp. 23-44

Permanent human change, as opposed to styles and random fashions, is best explained by the change of tools. The world over, men that used stone tools are "stone age men", for example. Other differences, such as race, color, creed, or national origin, obviously count for comparatively little in explaining...

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Chapter III: Detroit Envelops Fitzgerald

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pp. 45-66

Sub-division of the land for urban home con- Fitzgerald (1925-1960) struction started in earnest in the mid-twenties and was fairly well completed by 1929. Yet, urbanization was uneven and for a few years many open spaces existed, especially west of Wyoming, providing play space for the young. Other undivided lands were commercial...

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"They are coming!" and urban America, which is seventy percent of America, is terrified. Like some great unstoppable glacier spreading in rings from the city center, "they" push ever out. As "they" come, pollution rises, tax bases decay, schools decline, crime increases, riots break out, streets fall into filth. Parents are especially fearful of "them." They fear for the...

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Chapter IV: Races Meet

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pp. 69-86

Despite Kanada, the Seymours, the Pollards, the Turners and the Greers, other black families were labelled "the first colored families in the neighborhood" in the 1960's. Whites had forgotten the black families in Fitzgerald's past and tried to block the "first" efforts of blacks to integrate a "white" community. The white response included not only threats of violence, but...

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Chapter V: Races Mix

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pp. 87-108

The achievement of racial integration in Northwest Detroit reflects, to a certain extent, the gradual integration of all of Detroit. People in Detroit have voted on the integration issue with their feet. Detroit is not integrated. Detroit is not segregated. The human landscape of the city consists of three rings: black, mixed, and white. White Americans in the South would never believe how integrated the city really...

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Chapter VI: Races Separate

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pp. 109-124

But do blacks today want to mix with whites? Perhaps they have struggled so long and so hard for the goal of integration that they realize suddenly that the price certainly could not be worth the fight. Or perhaps as blacks near the goal they can see more clearly its imperfections. And the goal of integration is indeed a murky one. To mix requires the merging of both black and white identities, but there is no...

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Chapter VII: Slums Move Closer

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pp. 125-140

If, standing in Fitzgerald, one looks away from the city, he sees Fitzgerald's past, the suburbs, the farms, the forests; then, as he looks toward the city, does he see its future, the slums? Perhaps an answer can be found in urban geography. Recent work has shown a surprising uniformity to the internal structure of American...

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Chapter VIII: Fitzgerald Plans

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pp. 141-162

Beauty in a neighborhood, as in an individual, is as much a spiritual as a physical quality. It is important not only that people find their neighborhood beautiful but that they contribute to making it so, for if not, they will soon feel isolated from their environment, no matter how physically glorious it might be. Americans today do not participate in planning and arranging their neighborhoods, and so do tend to be...

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Chapter IX: Institutions Respond

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pp. 163-186

Fitzgerald and America are seething with unrest. The established institutions are dumbfounded. From the dream of affluent America with split-level homes to this in just a few years. What is to be done? No one seems to know. America's politicians grapple groggily with America's problems, suggesting that even they do not know what's happening; they imply...

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Chapter X: Education Strains

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pp. 187-200

Some alienation between the schools and the community in Fitzgerald has always existed, but now it is increasing. In the past the white Protestants and Jewish upwardly mobile groups were powerful enough to keep the schools healthy. The Fitzgerald and Post schools ran especially fine academic programs, which fit in...

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The internal political upheavals of this highly convulsed century---the Booming Twenties, the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the Civil Rights Movement, the Peace Movement---have been caused in part by gradual awareness that institutionalized poverty can be ended. The attitude, "There have always been the poor," implying, "There must always be the poor," has eroded before the knowledge that twentieth century man can reach for the moon and touch...

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Chapter XI: Youth Fights Back

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pp. 203-220

Thus wrote Hugh McCann, with truth, for his TV special on Fitzgerald, "The Winds of Change." Children must have absolute primacy, for they are helpless. The innocence of children is nowhere more evident than in their racial attitudes, or rather racial non-attitudes, for hard as adults try to teach them, the youngest children do not view the world racially. Young mixed...

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XII: Defeat or Victory?

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pp. 221-238

These four pictures of Fitzgerald people obviously come from foreign ways of life; they are from four different nations all called America. There have been many other nations in America : the Indians, for one, now mostly gone. America I is from the nation called "Rural." America II is from the nation called "Booster- Urban." America III is from the nation...

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pp. 239-246

The story of Fitzgerald is not merely a story of war, for Fitzgerald has also fought against war. Nor is it merely a story of racism and unemployment, for the community has fought for equality, led by the Community Council. Nor is it a story of the invasion of the slums, for the community has fought to keep its streets, its stores and houses liveable, and has fought for more and better schools and recreation...


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pp. 247-253

E-ISBN-13: 9780820339740
E-ISBN-10: 0820339741
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820338743
Print-ISBN-10: 0820338745

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 237 b&w photos, 40 illus.
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation
Series Editor Byline: Nik Heynen, Deborah Cowen, and Melissa W. Wright, Series Editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 754890085
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Fitzgerald

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Subject Headings

  • Social justice -- Michigan -- Detroit -- History.
  • Social change -- Michigan -- Detroit -- History.
  • Fitzgerald (Detroit, Mich.) -- Geography.
  • Detroit (Mich.) -- Geography.
  • Inner cities -- Michigan -- Detroit -- History.
  • Human geography -- Michigan -- Detroit -- History.
  • African Americans -- Michigan -- Detroit -- Social conditions.
  • Detroit (Mich.) -- Race relations.
  • African Americans -- Michigan -- Detroit -- History.
  • Fitzgerald (Detroit, Mich.) -- Race relations.
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