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  • The “800-Pound Gargoyle”:The Long History of Higher Education and Urban Development on Chicago’s South Side

Today colleges and universities are the dominant employers, real estate holders, policing agents, and educational and health care providers in major cities where they once played a less prominent role. Neighborhoods of color surrounding urban campuses are left most vulnerable to the for-profit developments of higher education, because the land is cheap and the citizens hold little political influence. This essay examines the long-standing relationship between the University of Chicago (U of C) and black communities surrounding the campus to chronicle the rise of what I call “UniverCities.” The U of C’s historic control of urban development on the South Side helps explain why higher education must be placed alongside the state and the financial sector as a key institutional catalyst shaping the growth and development of the twenty-first-century city.

Discussion of the role of the University of Chicago in reshaping the racial geography of the city’s South Side is a reminder of the role of “meds and eds” in postwar urban change.

—Thomas Sugrue, “Revisiting the Second Ghetto”

The superficial claims of policing the campus and Hyde Park hides the reality that we live in a distrustful, colonial social order. Our colonial status is ensured by the distrust between temporary settlers (that’s us the students) as a precious set of imported individuals, and the native “other” (often called community members), the dark peoples, savage and unknown.

—Ashley P. White-Stern, “University Benevolence Does Not Compensate for Lasting Inequality”

On Historic Preservation and Cultural Piracy

On the eve of the new millennium, South Side Chicago’s infamous Douglas and Grand Boulevard neighborhoods were putting on their fancy clothes. Renovated hundred-year-old greystones and newly built condominium developments slowly outshined vacant lots and run-down storefronts. Under the larger heritage tourism banner of “Restoring Bronzeville,” neighborhood boosters trumpeted the emergence of a cultural corridor along Forty-Seventh Street, housing a string of coffee shops, restaurants, public art and monuments alongside renovated historic buildings.1 At the center of urban revitalization stood the famed Checkerboard Lounge. Black residents hoped to renovate this historic blues venue as the signature showpiece of a “new Bronzeville,” but inadequate funding and municipal divestment in the neighborhood made this desire a near impossibility.2

Then in November 2003 the University of Chicago (U of C)—sometimes derided as the “800-pound gargoyle”—stepped in. The U of C not only bought but relocated the Checkerboard from 43rd Street to a university-owned building inside the Hyde Park neighborhood’s Harper Court shopping district. [End Page 81] Outraged, “Restoring Bronzeville” advocates immediately charged the U of C with “cultural piracy.” University officials and Hyde Park’s neighborhood boosters quickly shot back that their acquisition was not only a simple economic transaction between owner and seller but also an act of black historic preservation of a venue neglected by its own community. At the same time, officials were clear that the primary function of the Checkerboard was to “spawn an entertainment district” that could benefit university life for the U of C in its Hyde Park neighborhood.3

Figure 1. The “Old” Checkerboard Lounge, 423 E. 43rd, 2003.<br/><br/>Photo by discosour, Flikr creative commons.
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Figure 1.

The “Old” Checkerboard Lounge, 423 E. 43rd, 2003.

Photo by discosour, Flikr creative commons.

Far from a neighborhood squabble, the “Checkerboard controversy” is part of the larger rise and implications of what I call “UniverCities.” The notion of UniverCities highlights the growing relationship between institutions of higher education and urban development. Most concede but few have fully engaged the degree to which the urban “meds and eds” (universities and their attendant medical centers) stand as perhaps the most central, yet profoundly underexamined, social force in present-day struggles over the metropolis. To be sure, “meds and eds” have played an increasingly critical role in urban change since at least World War II. But today institutions of higher education are the dominant employers, real estate holders, policing agents, and educational and [End Page 82] health care providers in major cities where they once played a less prominent role.4

Figure 2. The “New” Checkerboard, 5201 S. Harper Court, 2013.<br/><br/>Photo by author.
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Figure 2.

The “New” Checkerboard, 5201 S. Harper Court, 2013.

Photo by author.

After decades of divestment, municipal leaders are now competing with each other to create an attractive “urban experience” that can capture the consumer dollars of empty nesters and young professionals venturing back into cities. The social scientist and “prosperity” expert Richard Florida specifically touts the urban university as a “central hub institution of the knowledge economy,” key to revitalizing cities by creating a built environment brand that will attract his celebrated “creative class.” And it is the very commercial amenities historically associated with “university life”—concerts, coffee shops, fully wired networking, and foot traffic congestion—that are central to the reignited demand for an urban experience. Residents have flocked back to cities searching for a university-style urban experience just as rapidly shrinking state budgets find higher education looking for new ways to generate revenue. The irony is that urban renewal schemes from the past left actual urban colleges and universities with few amenities to sell and little commercial development that could attract not only new residents and tourists but also higher education’s most “precious set of imported individuals,” students and faculty. Now municipal leaders have afforded the “meds and eds” with unprecedented economic resources and political power to reshape the city into the now-lucrative image of a campus.5 [End Page 83]

The convergence between cash-strapped colleges and universities and the attractiveness of “university life” for new urbanites has given rise to UniverCities. In Los Angeles, the University of Southern California is the largest private-sector employer in the city. Columbia University and New York University are the second- and third-largest landowners, respectively, in New York City, behind only the Catholic Church. And the University of Chicago fields one of the largest private security forces in the country. The urban planning model of UniverCities provides needed capital to institutions of higher education and also counteracts what has been called, with no racial irony, the “bright flight” of the creative class from America’s cities. But as colleges and universities are given the keys to “save the city,” the black and Latino communities that largely surround urban campuses are left especially vulnerable to the for-profit ambitions of higher education. The quaint notion of the ivory tower is dead. In what follows, I trace the long history between the U of C and its surrounding neighborhoods to explain why higher education must be placed alongside the state and the financial industry as a key institutional catalyst shaping the political economy and built environment of the twenty-first-century city.6

Recalling “Urban Renewal Days”

The Checkerboard controversy did not start the fractious real estate relationship between the U of C and its black environs. For many Bronzeville residents, the Checkerboard relocation “recalls urban renewal days.” One observer added that “the university’s own past policies are a key reason for the stark differences between Hyde Park and Bronzeville.” Both old and new residents understood that past university policies had shaped land values and social mobility on the South Side for a century.7 Even former U of C president Don Randel, in February 2006, gazed down on the inner campus from his fifth-floor office and reflected with candor on what he called the university’s “isolationist heritage.” He lamented that the very architecture of the campus quad, with its Gothic-style “street side stone walls hiding well-manicured inner quadrangles” evoked “ideas of exclusion” from the world outside. Yet the U of C’s earliest “constructions” of isolation went far beyond the proverbial front gates.8

Before the first campus cornerstone was laid in 1892, the U of C raised a large portion of its start-up capital through real estate acquisitions in the surrounding Hyde Park neighborhood, and the increased rental income helped ensure the university’s economic future. Through subsidized housing for faculty, students, and professionals, the U of C inflated property values of the land that served as a primary economic base for the university. The high land value also [End Page 84] provided an economic boundary from the growing class of European immigrants who were marked as “undesirable.”9

Figure 3. General campus view, aerial 1911–1920, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago.
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Figure 3.

General campus view, aerial 1911–1920, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago.

The rapid increase of African Americans to the near northwest of the university, during the first wave of Great Migration in the interwar period, posed a significant threat to property values in the campus neighborhood. In fact, the scholarship of social scientists at the U of C helped secure a link between race and land value, an ideology that was picked up by the local real estate industry and soon became national policy in the form of racially restrictive housing covenants. Alongside overt forms of racial violence, the notorious neighborhood associations in Hyde Park and Kenwood used financial backing from the university to help reinforce these covenants, which helped keep the campus neighborhood all-white and hence secure high property values. Many residents came to describe restrictive covenants as “the University of Chicago Agreement to get rid of Negroes.” As the years passed, the migration filled the South Side’s “Black Belt” beyond capacity. At the same time, the landmark case Hansberry v. Lee (1940) challenged the ability to enforce restrictive covenants and opened the proverbial floodgates on black [End Page 85] community expansion south into Hyde Park. The acquisition and demolition of buildings and increased (but still university subsidized) rent levels for faculty and employee housing became a dominant strategy for “maintain[ing] the white population” around the campus. But slum clearance strategies (also called Negro clearance by local black observers) failed to deter African Americans who could afford to purchase or rent Hyde Park properties.10

By the 1950s the Hyde Park–Kenwood Community Conference (the Conference) shifted its strategy from complete racial exclusion to community preservation. With the growing threat of black neighbors, the Conference pushed to build an “interracial community of high standards.” Hyde Park boosters began to focus on the economic class status of potential black residents as a way to control property values. But when such efforts failed to stave off panic selling by white residents, the South East Chicago Commission (SECC) stepped in as “the political action arm of the University.” The SECC signaled a renewed focus among U of C advocates to institute slum clearance and urban renewal schemes targeting racial identity, over and above high interracial “standards.” University officials and U of C alumni took full control of urban development on the South Side, helping to write the Urban Community Conservation Act of 1953 where slum prevention—proximity to black neighborhood expansion even without physical deterioration—became a valid reason for eminent domain. Ultimately, physically deteriorating but white-occupied Hyde Park neighborhood blocks were marked for rehabilitation, while majority black areas (from 55th to 56th Streets between Cottage Grove and Woodlawn Avenues) became the site targeted for clearance and university acquisition. The Hyde Park–Kenwood Urban Renewal Plan of 1958 coordinated the massive displacement of African Americans, which secured land values for the campus community and set national trends in urban public policymaking.11

Executive director of the SECC Julian Levi was nicknamed “Slum Fighter Levi,” as he joined forces with U of C chancellor and SECC president Lawrence Kimpton to nationalize local urban renewal efforts. Kimpton sat on the boards of the American Council of Education and the Association of American Universities. In 1959 Kimpton and Levi coordinated these two groups into an urban university lobbying force, successfully pushing for a significant change in the Federal Housing Act of 1949. Dubbed the “Section 112 credits program,” this initiative triggered a two-to-one federal matching grant for any urban renewal project on or near a college or university, up to five years before the project even began. Moreover, the aid was “transferrable to urban renewal projects anywhere in the city.” The lobbying efforts for the Section 112 credits drove higher education-based urban renewal efforts from Berkeley [End Page 86] to Philadelphia and set the stage for the 1965 opening of the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle (UIC). This massive new public campus resulted in the complete demolition of the neighborhood surrounding the historic Hull House settlement on the near West Side. Such legislation confirmed and foreshadowed the degree to which colleges and universities were not simply benefactors but architects of public policy that positioned higher education as a central actor in the urban political economy. And this national “urban renewal” policy—as a formal legislative prerogative—began as a U of C preservation scheme.12

Back on the South Side, the 1958 urban renewal plan was also notable because it rezoned 80 percent of Hyde Park’s commercial districts for residential use, which helped diminish the possibilities for interracial sociability. Ultimately, Hyde Park eliminated commercial development to help preserve land values in the campus area. At the same time, Bronzeville could not secure commercial development, because urban public policy encouraged economic divestment from black neighborhoods. The long history of “renewal” on the South Side directly shaped what became a tug-of-war over the Checkerboard Lounge as the heritage tourism centerpiece for Bronzeville versus a commercial anchor for “university life” serving the Hyde Park campus neighborhood for the U of C.13

University Life and the “New” Harper Court

When the U of C purchased and relocated the Checkerboard Lounge in 2003, the Bronzeville preservation advocate Bernard Lloyd led a protest to the campus where he argued, “You can’t take the Checkerboard out of its physical and cultural context, or you create a different institution.” For advocates of racial heritage tourism, the U of C’s relocation of the Checkerboard Lounge constituted an act of “theft.” To be sure, the politics of racial heritage tourism on Chicago’s South Side was not without its legitimate detractors. Many were concerned that Bronzeville revitalization spoke almost exclusively in the voice of preserving historic buildings and showcasing half-a-million-dollar homes. Black heritage tourism failed to address the widespread needs for affordable housing and massive job creation, especially for the working poor displaced after the massive demolition of Chicago’s notorious “vertical ghettos” of public housing, beginning in 1995. Even still, black leaders were clearly reminded of their limited reach and the U of C’s overwhelming power on the South Side when the Checkerboard was slated to reopen in Hyde Park. The “university life” urban plan stood out as the central vision of revitalization on Chicago’s South Side.14 [End Page 87]

In fact, when Bronzeville residents charged “theft,” the U of C also deployed a vision of black heritage preservation to justify the relocation of the lounge to Hyde Park. The university spokesperson Sonya Malunda pointed out that relocating the Checkerboard was in fact “saving an institution” so vital to the community, that was in danger of being lost forever. U of C director of real estate operations Jo Reizner added, “It’s not the location; it’s the institution,” suggesting that the continued existence of the lounge was of supreme importance. Hyde Park boosters, including Sam Ackerman, smugly scoffed that because “Harper Court is just 15 blocks from the old location” these protests worked against the interests of the “whole near south community.” First, those fifteen blocks are separated by Kenwood (one of the most affluent black neighborhoods and Chicago home to President Barack Obama), which make Bronzeville and Hyde Park a world away. Second, Jim Wagner, the chair of the Committee to Restore Jazz to Hyde Park, emphasized to university audiences that the Checkerboard relocation could bring entertainment to the commercially deficient Hyde Park, so U of C “students won’t have to travel north” for the blues. In the end, the Checkerboard debate revealed a novel use of historic preservation language to serve the urban planning interests of “university life” in Hyde Park, not the whole South Side.15

The Hyde Park double-talk—about the Checkerboard acquisition as an act of black historic preservation or draw for campus entertainment—speaks volumes about the emergence of UniverCities. The “university life” urban planning model serves not only the U of C but also the city of Chicago within a changing transnational landscape. Urban colleges and universities sit at the nexus of the global North’s major shift in economic prerogatives from large-scale manufacturing to what NYU president John Sexton has termed the ICE (information, cultural, and educational) service economy. Chicago may not be considered a “first-tier” global city. Yet it remains a central global command center facilitating transnational immigration flows and agricultural, financial, and industrial products between various points in the United States’ “flyover” zone between the coasts. The city also maintains semiautonomous links with numerous ports of labor, trade, and consumption all over the world. A key aspect of Chicago’s ascendancy from the ashes of industrial production’s flight to the global South has been its focus on neighborhoods as attractive sites of creativity, livability, and investment. Most centrally, the bell towers of higher education are touted as the new “smokestacks” driving the urban economy not just as spaces of education but also as institutions that can parcel and repackage “blighted” areas into “destinations” that attract tourists, residents, investors, and their own captive market of students, parents, and employees. The U of [End Page 88] C became a centerpiece for Richard M. Daley’s and now Rahm Emanuel’s vision of Chicago as a major facilitator of labor, education, innovation, and prestige in the ICE economy.16

The U of C remains Hyde Park’s biggest landowner, but the racial and class composition of the neighborhood has changed, and questions about safety, both real and perceived, continue to challenge the attractiveness of the campus community for students and tourists alike. Moreover, the university’s urban renewal schemes from the 1950s and 1960s left the area with little of the commercial development so central to the new ICE economy. The importance of turning campus communities into neighborhood destinations was clear when Wagner specifically made the case for a university acquisition of the Checkerboard by pointing out the “steady U of C crowd” at the lounge in Bronzeville. The U of C contained the research laboratories, conference rooms, and computer stations to draw the creative class, but it failed to possess the campus culture of wide sidewalks teeming with cafés, bookstores, galleries, nightclubs, and museums that would compel them to stay. Relocation of a signature property, like the Checkerboard, appealed to U of C desires to catch up with the national trends of higher education–driven urban development that could benefit the university and city alike.17

Just locally, the Illinois Institute of Technology opened its Rem Koolhaas–designed McCormick Tribune Campus Center and “State Street Village” dormitories in 2003, carving out a secure zone of student housing, retail, and recreation right in the heart of the struggling Bronzeville neighborhood. On the near West Side, the UIC leveraged public funds to clear sixty acres of land, creating a fully redesigned campus town of residential and commercial properties to service the “ready-made population” of students. Yet many are concerned about the threat for this “South Campus” to raise property values beyond the means of the historically Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood nearby. The Checkerboard relocation to Harper Court must be seen as a parallel attempt to create a “university life,” designed to stave off the steady stream of student and faculty dollars flowing away from campus, or what retail specialists describe as “leakage.”18

As chair of the Committee to Restore Jazz to Hyde Park, Wagner also recounted how urban renewal destroyed what he described as a thriving jazz scene in Hyde Park. So while the Checkerboard acquisition was an act of cultural preservation, Wagner made such an appeal based on interests in preserving Hyde Park’s musical past and stimulating a present-day interest in live music for the consumer base of students and faculty. He informed Bronzeville preservationists that the Checkerboard in Hyde Park “will not be the old blues club.” [End Page 89] Instead, the “New Checkerboard Lounge” was reimagined as a blues and jazz club, with live jazz sets at least twice a week. The incorporation of jazz made sense, keeping in mind the name of Wagner’s group and the fact that then university president Don Randel was an amateur jazz pianist. Still, this change in music is deeper than special interest group lobbying. The musical change is important because boosters believed the proposed upscale restaurants in the new Harper Court commercial district “should be more receptive to having jazz.” There is no question that while preservation may have been the convenient means for extracting the lounge from Bronzeville, the Checkerboard was meant to add neighborhood “color” to the Harper Court commercial development serving the campus community.19

The Harper Court development sits at the literal and figurative center of the U of C’s designs for “university life.” Furthermore, it is poetic irony that Harper Court was originally created as a refuge for artists and small shops displaced by the university’s urban renewal initiative in Hyde Park. Founded in August 1965, Harper Court was opened with fireworks as one of the four designated shopping centers meant to compensate for the university’s demolition of commerce in the area under the Hyde Park–Kenwood Urban Renewal Plan. Flash forward forty-five years, and the U of C–owned Harper Court is the clearest manifestation of the “university life” urban plan on the South Side. The redesign captured larger efforts to “reimagine” 53rd Street as a Hyde Park commercial corridor. Community news officer for the university, Kadesha Thomas, endorsed the new Harper Court so that local residents and students “will be able to shop, eat out and have fun, without leaving our neighborhoods.”20

The Harper Court redevelopment project was loosely described as a “public–private” partnership, simply because the city owned an adjacent parking lot that would be incorporated into the larger plan. The Harper Court project was quickly injected with a large infusion of public capital, with approximately $27 million through the sometimes controversial Tax Increment Financing program (TIF). In early 2010 this partnership chose the Vermillion Group, based in Danville, Illinois, to develop a $200 million mixed-use complex, specifically because the firm had “a portfolio of projects in university towns.” Vermillion confirmed that “what we are trying to do is create a sense of destination” (emphasis mine). Elegant plans for this university life destination required the demolition of all but one of the four main bungalow-style buildings in the Court. The new designs included two new block-long streets and a performance space where the streets could be closed off into festival grounds. The proposal also designed a separate retail space and retail on the lower levels [End Page 90] of office buildings, a two hundred–room boutique hotel, two mid-rise apartment buildings, and a condominium tower on top of parking. The primary interest was, according to associate vice president of civic engagement at the university, to create a space where the office space and hotel ensure a captive consumer base “during both daytime and evening hours.”21

Figure 4. The “Old” Harper Court, 2008.<br/><br/>Photo by Eric Allix Rogers, Flikr creative commons.
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Figure 4.

The “Old” Harper Court, 2008.

Photo by Eric Allix Rogers, Flikr creative commons.

Faculty and students were understandably excited by the Vermillion catch-phrase “Live/Play/Learn/Work” and the possibility that the “retail desert” of Hyde Park might come to life and the U of C would no longer be known as “the place where fun comes to die.” But others feared that boutique hotels and high-priced condominiums would reproduce what one resident described as an economic and lifestyle “moat around the university area.” The reconstruction of Harper Court also called into question the U of C’s argument for black heritage preservation during the Checkerboard controversy. The only building that remained from the original Harper Court houses a “jazzed up” version of the Checkerboard, alongside other “upscale” properties. Most shops became “casualt[ies] of the growing pains of a neighborhood on the move.”22 Gone is the Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop restaurant, a one-time favorite of President Obama. The Hyde Park Hair Salon that once trimmed the locks of Muhammad Ali, Obama, and Harold Washington also did not make the “cut” of revitalization and was relocated. Many appreciated the previous configuration of stores because they were affordable. Bronzeville native Katrina Everett concluded that the university “wants an environment of stores and restaurants its rich students are used to going to.” To some degree, these community suspicions persisted [End Page 91] because of the U of C’s infamous past but also because of its “university life” planning practices taking place beyond designs for a new Harper Court.23

U of C expansion in all areas of real estate, policing, education, and governance help the university maintain a “company town” dynamic in Hyde Park. University expansion moved forward, scooping up various properties around the campus while land-banking parcels to the west in Washington Park and building a $700 million office, parking, and retail expansion for its “South Campus” in the Woodlawn neighborhood. At the same time, the nonprofit and tax-exempt university hospital pulled back on service to the poor and indigent to “free up space for specialized patients who can generate more revenue.”24

Finally in Bronzeville proper, the university is creating its own small charter school system through surrounding neighborhoods. The U of C is also expanding the jurisdiction of its private armed police force directly within those neighborhoods. With good reason, such educational and security initiatives are continually advertised as improvements that will benefit the predominately black children and families of the area. U of C vice president of community affairs vice president Frank Webber proclaimed, “It’s about helping a community redevelop.” When asked to elaborate on redevelopment, however, the first thing that Webber mentioned was that some faculty and staff live north of 47th Street, with more to follow because of university housing subsidies. This association between community development, faculty housing, and the subsequent rise in property values raises questions about the degree to which the U of C may be subsidizing a university life “island” even in Bronzeville. Most, and I think accurately, dismiss the possibility that Bronzeville may go the “Great White Way” of Harlem. But consider how this bundling of education, real estate, and private policing creates the possibility for housing faculty and a growing young professional class, alongside quality public schools for their children, all wrapped in the protection of the U of C’s expanded police jurisdiction. At the same time, as the university helps lead the way for building new charter schools, older schools are being eliminated, compressing (not increasing) the educational options for the South Side’s children.25

On November 18, 2005, the New Checkerboard Lounge for Blues ’n’ Jazz opened to great fanfare, and all of Hyde Park was patting itself on the back for such a wonderful “acquisition.” Less than two years later, however, the Checkerboard had become a casualty of the university life urban plan. The lounge faced low customer turnout, profit loss, and the Hyde Park Jazz Society even moved their jazz night to, of all places, Bronzeville’s 43rd Street. But plans for the larger Harper Court shopping and entertainment complex forged ahead. [End Page 92] The new Harper Court celebrated its opening in November 2013 with Mayor Emanuel, U of C president Robert Zimmer, Grammy award–winning R&B vocalist Estelle, and the Kenwood Academy Choir all in attendance.26

The final design and primary tenants of the new Harper Court seem to confirm some residents’ fears that this development is designed to exclusively serve the still largely suburban interests of students and potential tourists through a vision of simulated urbanity. Framed by two perpendicular private streets (almost alleyways), the architectural layout suggests that all actions within the space will be regulated by the dictates of commercial exchange, allowing for mixed but regulated uses, without the messiness of mixed social classes. Benches and sidewalk commerce exist, but no public restrooms or public streets. Gone are the walls and ceilings of the suburban mall. They have been supplanted by the “open-air enclosure,” a privatized public experience of socializing under the shadows of office and retail towers made of glass and steel. Dixie Kitchen, Calypso, and the Hyde Park Hair Salon have been replaced with “recognizable” retail chains including Starbucks, Chipotle, L.A. Fitness, and the Hyatt Place Hotel. It seems that university life will become another of what Michael Sorkin once called the “Variation on a Theme Park” where Harper Court looks more like City Walk at Disney World or any suburban office park island, instead of a city street on the South Side.27

But it is this suburban office park design of “university life” in Hyde Park that investors and municipal leaders see as essential for recruiting major corporations and their professional workers back into the city. When Boeing and United Airlines relocated to Chicago, they specifically mentioned the technical and cultural resources of the university. Therefore the Checkerboard’s move to Hyde Park points to the rise of “university life” as a dominant urban design plan not only on Chicago’s South Side but as part of larger national trends in urban development.28


The U of C may be the most infamous and long-standing university titan of urban planning, but it hardly stands alone. In cities all across the country, America’s “meds and eds” have become the new face of urban revitalization. As UniverCities take shape, many rightfully celebrate that colleges and universities not only provide museums and lectures and offer public safely protections but also create new economic opportunities. For example, the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and city government came together to transform an abandoned steel mill on a contaminated brownfield into the [End Page 93] Pittsburgh Technology Center, an office park for advanced academic and corporate technology research. Saint Louis University instituted the Hometown SLU mortgage loan forgiveness program for employees and opened the boutique-style Hotel Ignacio as part of a multimillion-dollar investment and reuse package in the newly revitalized Midtown Alley district. Universities all across the country also provide support for educational initiatives in some of the most impoverished urban neighborhoods. But at the same time, these noneducational investments replace affordable rate with market rate housing, and land values can skyrocket beyond the reach of local residents, who are largely shunted into the low-wage sectors of the creative class as ivory tower janitors, cooks, and groundskeepers.29

Figure 5. The “New” Harper Court, 2013.<br/><br/>Photo by Leslie Schwartz, permission from the author.
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Figure 5.

The “New” Harper Court, 2013.

Photo by Leslie Schwartz, permission from the author.

Still, the concern here with the growing power of UniverCities extends far beyond labor relations or land grabs. Tax-exempt higher education institutions are facing little public oversight as they receive federal and municipal funds to “save the city.” Examining UniverCities brings necessary light to growing concerns about the decline of government accountability and social inclusion when the urban development of the largely black and Latino communities surrounding urban campuses are handed over to the for-profit arm of higher [End Page 94] education. These campus neighbors of color are prime targets of higher education urban development, not just because of proximity, but also because they live in zones of relatively cheap and divested land, while holding little political influence.

Pockets of resistance do, however, emerge and expose higher education–based urban development as a key site of struggle over the very meaning of the revitalizing city. For example, Roxbury residents continue a decade-long series of community meetings, protests, and lawsuits against Boston University’s city-approved plan to locate a lucrative but environmentally dangerous biodefense laboratory in their neighborhood. In 2012 the city of Providence followed the trend of a handful of cities by pushing Brown University to pay millions more through a Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) initiative, helping stave off city bankruptcy. Johns Hopkins University oversaw a lead paint study in the 1990s where inner-city residents were enticed with federal subsidies to live in housing already tainted with lead. However, the university is now being sued by some of the families for failing to offer complete transparency about the risks of living in contaminated homes just so their children’s blood could be analyzed for the study.30

One key issue highlighted by the rise of UniverCities is that higher education has become an attractive facilitator of capital in the ICE economy. Among other attributes, foregrounding ICE industries places a new face on the more familiar FIRE economy of finance, insurance, and real estate. Tax-exempt institutions of higher education are presumed to serve a public good, and therefore their noneducational and profit-generating investments are rarely subject to the same level of public scrutiny and economic oversight as other industries. The “meds and eds” oversee a vast payroll of white-collar and low-wage workers while their graduate students populate cheap labor workshops and provide intellectual property copyrights for corporate research and development. Higher education institutions also convert students and workers into captive markets for retailers, realtors, researchers, and creditors. Finally, colleges and universities provide tax shelters for donors and developers and bank land for speculative appreciation, and transfer massive public funds into private developments. Higher education is a key growth machine in today’s cities because colleges and universities have been given the keys to drive the urban economy forward by reorganizing urban space to best service their capital investments, with the assumption that such private investments will benefit the entire city.31

Columbia University was only momentarily halted by the New York court of appeals from using eminent domain laws in ways that the majority opinion equated to “sophistry.” The massive NYU 2031 plan still pushes to [End Page 95] add as much as six million square feet to a campus projected to traverse New York City, even in the face of ongoing resistance from its faculty, Greenwich Village residents, and a court ruling. Quiet as it is kept, George Washington University is the second-largest landholder (outside the federal government) and the largest private employer in the District of Columbia. Only the “Great Recession” could slow down Harvard’s rapid advance into the Alston Brighton corridor. Phoenix continues to rest its comeback hopes on a $233 million municipal bond that bought Arizona State University a downtown campus. Brown University gobbles up more prime real estate in Providence, converting the historic jewelry neighborhood into a “knowledge district.” And of course the University of Pennsylvania continues to manage the relentless growing pains of its infamous University City area.32

The U of C simply sheds light on how UniverCities are shaping urban space as employers, real estate holders, policing agents, researchers, and educational and health care providers. Again, the quaint notion of the ivory tower is dead, as higher education already holds a firm grasp on urban development policies and practices far beyond the campus. A new city is emerging right before our eyes and as the interests of municipal leaders, higher education administrators, and local residents converge, there must be a critical assessment and plan of action that directly engages these UniverCities, both their assets and consequences.

Davarian L. Baldwin

Davarian L. Baldwin is the Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies at Trinity College (CT). He is the author of Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, and Black Urban Life (University of North Carolina Press, 2007) and coeditor (with Minkah Makalani) of the essay collection Escape from New York: The New Negro Renaissance beyond Harlem (University of Minnesota Press, 2014). Baldwin is currently at work on two new single-authored projects, Land of Darkness: Chicago and the Making of Race in Modern America (Oxford University Press) and “UniverCities: How Higher Education Is Transforming Urban America.”


I want to thank, for their invaluable suggestions, guidance, and support: John Jackson Jr., Andrew Ross, Arlene Davila, Nathan Connolly, Vijay Prashad, Rena Fraden, Xiangming Chen, James Blair, Clarence Lang, John Rury, Sylviane Diouf, Aseem Inam, and Thabiti Lewis. I also benefited from spirited discussions with audience members at the various places where I have presented this work, including the “Emerging Urban Practices” symposium at Parsons The New School for Design; the “City Reimagined” seminar at the University of Kansas; the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at the CUNY Graduate Center; the “Fontaine Society Lecture” at the University of Pennsylvania; the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and Northeastern University. I also want to acknowledge the observations and insights of the anonymous reader and the AQ editorial board, especially Sarah Banet-Weiser. Most importantly, the late-night conversations, critiques, and queries from Bridgette Baldwin were indispensable for bringing this essay to completion.

1. The name Bronzeville—once a statement of community self-definition and black pride—had become a historic landmark and real estate designation. The name now functions to claim municipal resources while beckoning commercial investors, private home buyers, and cultural tourists to the area. See Kari Lydersen, “Chicago’s Bronzeville Is Ready for Reprise,” Washington Post, November 6, 2004; Terry Armour, “Bronzeville: South Rises Again,” Chicago Tribune, August 26, 2005; Sandra Guy, “Cottage Grove Area Poised for Takeoff,” Chicago Sun-Times, February 14, 2005; Kenny Johnson, “Commentary,” Chicago Defender, November 19–21, 2004; and “Front Row: An Up-Close View of Chicagoland’s Entertainment,” Chicago Tribune, August 26, 2005. On racial heritage tourism in [End Page 96] Bronzeville, see Michelle Boyd, Jim Crow Nostalgia: Reconstructing Race in Bronzeville (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008). See also Southside Partnership, “Rebuilding Bronzeville through Collaborative Action: A Position Paper,” February 1999.

2. The Checkerboard Lounge actually was not that “historic” in age, but it hosted a number of blues and rock legends to confirm its stature as historic in reputation. The blues great Buddy Guy and the small business owner L. C. Thurman opened the Checkerboard in 1972, sitting on Forty-Third Street amid a collage of shacks, joints, and jukes where most agree Chicago’s amplified “urban blues” sound was born. Known as the “Home of the Blues,” the Checkerboard hosted legendary jam sessions that included Muddy Waters, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Junior Walker, and KoKo Taylor. See James Porter, “The Last Juke Joint,” Time Out Chicago, June 9–16, 2005; Celeste Garrett, “Legendary Blues Club Runs out of Encores,” Chicago Tribune, May 26, 2003; Jim Sonnenberg, “Last Call at the Checkerboard Lounge,” Crain’s Chicago Business, February 15, 2003; “The Thrill Is Going,” Crain’s Chicago Business, February 17, 2003; and Jeff Heubner, “Whose Blues Will They Choose,” Chicago Reader, December 1, 2000. See also David Grazian, Blue Chicago: The Search for Authenticity in Urban Blues Clubs (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).

3. See Deanna Isaacs, “The 800-Pound Gargoyle: The University of Chicago May Not Be the Only Force That Shaped Hyde Park and Kenwood but It’s the Biggest,” Chicago Reader, March 4, 2010; and “Friends of the Checkerboard Lounge, U of C Committing Act of Cultural Piracy: Open Letter to University of Chicago President Don Randel,” Hyde Park Herald, November 19, 2003. For the “entertainment district” quotation, see, among many, Jeremy Adragna, “Checkerboard Work to Begin Jan, 1, ’05,” Hyde Park Herald, December 8, 2004. See also Todd Spivak, “Checkerboard Proprietor Crashes U. of C. Protest,” Hyde Park Herald, December 17, 2003; and Friends of the Checkerboard Lounge, “Checkerboard Move Recalls Urban Renewal Days,” Hyde Park Herald, February 4, 2004.

4. This essay comes out of my larger work-in-progress, “UniverCities: How Higher Education Is Transforming Urban America.” See the epilogue to Davarian L. Baldwin, “Black Belts and Ivory Towers: The Place of Race in U.S. Social Thought, 1892–1948,” in Culture, Power, and History: Studies in Critical Sociology, ed. Stephen Pfohl, Aimee Van Wagenen, Patricia Arend, Abigail Brooks, and Denise Leckenby (Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2006). The growing scholarship on university–city engagement includes Harley Etienne, Pushing Back the Gates: Neighborhood Perspectives on University-Driven Revitalization in West Philadelphia (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2012); Sharon Haar, The City as Campus: Urbanism and Higher Education in Chicago (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011); Robert Greenstreet, “Creating a Town-Gown Partnership: The Milwaukee Model,” in Synergicity: Reinventing the Postindustrial City, ed. Paul Hardin Kapp and Paul Armstrong (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012); Margaret Pugh O’Mara, Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005); David C. Perry and Wim Wiewel, The University as Urban Developer (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2005); John Gilderbloom and R. L. Mullins, Promise and Betrayal: Universities and the Battle for Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005); Carolyn Adams, “The Meds and Eds in Urban Economic Development,” Journal of Urban Affairs 25.5 (2003): 571–88; and Corey Dolgon, “Soulless Cities: Ann Arbor, the Cutting Edge of Discipline: Postfordism, Postmodernism, and the New Bourgeoisie,” Antipode 31.2 (1999): 129–62. For more historical work, see “Town Meets Gown: Special Issue,” Journal of Planning History 10.1 (2011); Stefan Bradley, Harlem vs. Columbia University: Black Student Power in the Late 1960s (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009); and Thomas Bender, The University and the City: From Medieval Origins to the Present (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988). There are also a growing number of important dissertations and theses that have yet to become books but are beginning to take up the higher education–urban development nexus. They include Jeannine Nicole Keefer, “Politicization of Space: Urban Campus, Urban Renewal, and Development in the Temple and University City areas of Philadelphia from 1947 to 1972” (PhD diss., State University of New York at Binghamton, 2013); Jeffrey Wigintton, “Urban Universities’ Campus Expansion Project in the Twenty-First Century: A Case Study of the University of Southern California’s ‘Village at USC’ Project and Its Potential Economic and Social Impacts on Its Local Community to Provide a Template for Future Expansion Projects” (PhD diss., University of Southern California, 2013); Patrick Noonan, “Urban vs. Suburban: The Examination of the Debate over Where to Site Two New Jersey Community Colleges” (PhD diss., Rutgers University, 2013); Anne Bowman, “Beyond the Ivory Tower: In Search of a New Form for Campus-Community Relations” (MA thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2011); Shawn Abbott, “The Good, Bad, and Ugly [End Page 97] of Campus Expansion” (EdD diss., Columbia Teachers College, 2010); LaDale Winling, “Building the Ivory Tower: Campus Planning, University Development, and the Politics of Urban Space” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2010); Ricki Gever Einstein, “Fragile Partnerships: Urban Universities, Neighbors, and Neighborhoods” (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2005); Leroy David Nunery, “Reconceptualizing the College Town: Urban Universities and Local Retail Development” (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2003); and Alvaro Cortes, “The Role of Universities in Urban Neighborhood Change: University Activity and Inactivity” (PhD diss., Wayne State University, 2002).

5. On urban universities and the “creative class,” see Richard Florida, “The Extraordinary Value of Great Universities,” Atlantic Cities, December 15, 2011,; and Florida, Cities and the Creative Class (New York: Routledge, 2004). On the general history of universities and urban renewal, see note 4.

6. See “President Max Nikias’ Address to LAEDC Board: USC Investing in Southern California’s Economy,” in The Planning Report: Insider’s Guide to Planning and Infrastructure, August 2012; Catherine Sailant, “L.A. Puts Hold on $1.1 Billion Makeover of Land near USC,” Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2012; Gary Toebben, “Thank You USC,” Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, December 18, 2012,; Laura Kusisto, “The World’s Biggest College Town,” New York Observer, February 2, 2011,; Gabriel Sherman, “The School That Ate New York,” New York Magazine, November 14, 2010; Matthew Schuerman, “NYU, Columbia Make a Mint on Real Estate,” New York Observer, June 1, 2006,; Jordan Larson, “A Brief History of the UCPD,” Chicago Maroon, May 25, 2012,; and Joshua Segal, “‘We Must Do Something Ourselves’: Police Reform and Police Privatization in Chicago’s Hyde Park, 1960–1970,” Chicago Studies, 2008. On “bright flight,” see Mike Sharsky, “Business: Outlook: Ithaca Economic Development,” US Airways Magazine, February 2009, 98.

7. Mike Stevens, “Learning from the ‘Terrible Mistakes’ of Urban Renewal,” Hyde Park Herald, April 14, 2004; Lydialyle Gibson, “Due South,” University of Chicago Magazine, February 2006; Charles E. Jenkins, “The University of Chicago,” Architectural Record 4 (October–December 1894): 229–46.

8. See Friends of the Checkerboard Lounge, “Checkerboard Move Recalls Urban Renewal Days,” Hyde Park Herald, February 4, 2004; and Paula Robinson, “This Tale of Two Cities Could Have Happier Ending,” Hyde Park Herald, January 7, 2004. The observations of President Randel are quoted in Stevens, “Learning from the ‘Terrible Mistakes’ of Urban Renewal.” See also Rachel Levine, “Neighborhood Activists Protest Checkerboard Move,” Chicago Maroon, January 13, 2004.

9. See Robin Bachin, Building the South Side: Urban Space and Civic Culture in Chicago, 1890–1919 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 53–57.

10. See “Building Ghettoes,” Chicago Defender, October 2, 1937; and Arnold Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940–1960 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 148. For work on the relationship between the “Chicago School” and urban public policy, see Margaret Garb, “Drawing the ‘Color Line’: Race and Real Estate in Early Twentieth Century Chicago,” Journal of Urban History 32.5 (2006): 773–87; Davarian L. Baldwin, “Black Belts and Ivory Towers: The Place of Race in US Social Thought,” Critical Sociology 30.2 (2004): 311–64; Sudhir Venkatesh, “Chicago’s Pragmatic Planners: American Sociology and the Myth of Community,” Social Science History 25 (Summer 2001): 275–315; and my forthcoming Land of Darkness: Chicago and the Making of Race in Modern America (Oxford University Press). On race and property values, see David Freund, Colored Property: State Policy and White Racial Politics in Suburban America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007); Kevin Gotham, Race, Real Estate, and Uneven Development: The Kansas City Experience, 1900–2000 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002); and Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton, American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993). On the Great Migration, see James R. Grossman, Land of Hope: Chicago, Black Southerners, and the Great Migration (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989); and Davarian Baldwin, Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, and Black Urban Life (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007). For more on housing stock and racial violence, see Cameron McWhirter, Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America (New York: Henry Holt, 2011); William Tuttle, Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Hot Summer of 1919 (New York: Atheneum, 1970); Janet Abu-Lughod, Race, Space, and Riots in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles [End Page 98] (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 43–72; and Tuttle, “Contested Neighborhoods and Racial Violence: Prelude to the Chicago Riot of 1919,” Journal of Negro History 55.4 (1970): 266–88. On restrictive covenants and the U of C, see Chicago Defender, September 25, 1937; “Building Ghettoes,” Chicago Defender, October 7, 1937; and Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto. For general discussions of covenants, see St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton, Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 178–221; Allen Spear, Black Chicago: The Making of a Negro Ghetto, 1890–1920 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967), 20–21; Tuttle, Race Riot, 157–83; and Chicago Commission on Race Relations, Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and a Race Riot ([1922]; repr., New York: Arno, 1969), 117–26. The Hansberry case also shaped a grand narrative about the black struggle for housing, especially with the staging of Carl Hansberry’s daughter Lorraine’s award-winning play, A Raisin in the Son (1959). See Web Behrens, “Raisin on the Run,” Time Out Chicago, September 21–September 27, 2006; and Drake and Cayton, Black Metropolis, 182–87. “Maintaining the white population” comes from Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto, 148. See also Beryl Satter, Family Properties: How the Struggle over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America (New York: Picador, 2010); Amanda Seligman, Block by Block: Neighborhoods and Public Policy on Chicago’s West Side (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005); Arnold Hirsch, “Containment on the Home Front: Race and Federal Housing Policy from the New Deal to the Cold War,” Journal of Urban History 26.2 (2000): 158–89; and Muriel Beadle, The Hyde Park–Kenwood Urban Renewal Years: A History to Date (Chicago: n.p., 1965).

11. On “interracial community of high standards,” see “The South East Chicago Commission,” Hyde Park Herald, July 21, 2004; and Beadle, Hyde Park–Kenwood Urban Renewal Years, 10–13. On “political action arm,” see Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto, 144. See also “Urban Renewal for Whom,” Chicago Defender, May 26, 1958; “The Hyde Park Renewal Plan,” Chicago Defender, July 23, 1958; Bruce Sagan, “The Major Story of the Last Fifty Years: Urban Renewal,” Hyde Park Herald, July 21, 2004; and Peter Rossi and Robert Dentler, The Politics of Urban Renewal: The Chicago Findings (New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1961). Eminent domain generally refers to the state seizure of private land for public use, with just compensation. The land acquired is often transferred back into private hands, and in Hyde Park that often meant the U of C.

12. See LaDale Winling, “Students and the Second Ghetto: Federal Legislation, Urban Politics, and Campus Planning at the University of Chicago,” Journal of Planning History 10.1 (2011): 70. Notably, the U of C had consulted the Illinois Institute of Technology, which had recently cleared a number of city blocks directly in Bronzeville to make way for campus expansion in the 1940s. See Sherry Tierney, “Rezoning Chicago’s Modernisms: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Remment Koolhaas, the ITT Campus, and Its Bronzeville Prehistory (1914–2003)” (MA thesis, Arizona State University, 2008); and Phyllis Lambert, ed., Mies in America (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001). On higher education lobbying for a national urban renewal policy, see Julian Levi, “Slum Fighter Levi Tells What to Do,” Life, April 11, 1955; and Levi, “An Encroaching Menace,” Life, April 11, 1955. See also J. Martin Klotsche, The Urban University and the Future of Our Cities (New York: Harper and Row, 1966); Kenneth Ashworth, “Urban Renewal and the University: A Tool for Campus Expansion and Neighborhood Improvement,” Journal of Higher Education 35.9 (1964): 493–96; David Boroff, “The Case for the Asphalt Campus,” New York Times Magazine, April 21, 1963; David Carson, “Town and Gown,” Architectural Forum 118 (March 1963); Lawrence Hechinger, “Campus vs. Slums: Urban Universities Join Battle for Neighborhood Renewal, New York Times, October 1, 1961; Ethan Scrum, “Administering American Modernity: The Instrumental University in the Postwar United States” (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2009); and Haar, City as Campus.

13. Beadle, Hyde Park–Kenwood Urban Renewal Years, 19–21; and Bruce Sagan, “Harper Court: It Takes Determination and $100 Bonds,” Hyde Park Herald, July 24, 2004. On the effects of urban renewal, see Mindy Fullilove, Root Shock: How Tearing Up Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do about It (New York: One World/Ballantine, 2005).

14. See Antonio Olivo, “No Encore for the Blues: Grand Plan to Revive Bronzeville’s Past as a Musical Hot Spot Quietly Fizzles Out,” Chicago Tribune, February 27, 2009; Heubner, “Whose Blues Will They Choose?”; and Todd Spivak, “Competing Plans for the Checkerboard,” Hyde Park Herald, October 15, 2003. See also Arlene Davila, “Empowered Culture? New York City’s Empowerment Zone and the Selling of El Barrio,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, July 2004, 49–64. On black class conflict, public housing, and urban revitalization, see Preston Smith, Racial [End Page 99] Democracy and the Black Metropolis: Housing Policy in Postwar Chicago (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012); Boyd, Jim Crow Nostalgia; Derek Hyra, The New Urban Renewal: The Economic Transformation of Harlem and Bronzeville (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008); Mary Patillo, Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007); and Sudhir Venkatesh, American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000).

15. Spivak, “Competing Plans for the Checkerboard”; Jim Wagner, “Checkerboard Owner asked for U of C’s Help,” Hyde Park Herald, December 17, 2003; Sam Ackerman, “Checkerboard Tradition Will Continue on Fifty-Third,” Hyde Park Herald, December 17, 2003; and Jeff Johnson, “Famed Checkerboard Lounge to Reopen in Hyde Park,” Chicago Sun-Times, November 3, 2005.

16. It is no accident that the president of an urban university, New York University’s John Sexton, is the primary architect of the ICE concept. According to Sexton, the formerly dominant urban anchor of FIRE—finance, insurance, and real estate—has given way to ICE because with the computer technology of fiber optic cables and network servers, cities no longer provide a “locational advantage” to FIRE industries. In contrast, the capital that comes from information, culture, and education depends on geographic proximity and hence a firm commitment to staying in and supporting the city. To be sure, this is not a neutral storytelling of city history but an appeal for the central role of urban universities in new municipal economies told by an urban university president. See John Sexton, “Fire and Ice: The Knowledge Century and the Urban University,” August 10, 2007, and Andrew Ross, “Universities and the Urban Growth Machine,” Dissent Magazine: A Quarterly of Politics and Culture, October 4, 2012. On Chicago and the new global economy, see Larry Bennett, The Third City: Chicago and American Urbanism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012); Dominic Pacyga, Chicago: A Biography (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009); John Koval, Larry Bennett, Michael Bennett, Fassil Demissie, Roberta Garner, and Kiljoong Kim, eds., The New Chicago: A Social and Cultural Analysis (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006); and Janet Abu-Lughod, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles: America’s Global Cities (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999). On universities as economic drivers, see Perry and Wiewel, University as Urban Developer; Robert Campbell, “Universities Are the New City Planners,” Boston Globe, March 20, 2005; and Initiative for a Competitive Inner City and CEOs for Cities, Leveraging Colleges and Universities for Urban Revitalization: An Action Agenda (Boston: CEOs for Cities, 2002). On the urban tourist economy, see Costas Spirou, Urban Tourism and Urban Change: Cities in a Global Economy (London: Routledge, 2011); Richard Lloyd, Neobohemia: Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City (New York: Routledge, 2009); Malcolm Miles, Consuming Cities (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004); Dennis Judd and Susan Fainstein, The Tourist City (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999); John R. Logan and Harvey Molotch, Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998). Richard M. Daley (the son of Richard J. Daley) explicitly tried to take a history of urban renewal isolation of populations and repackage this history into the “city of neighborhoods” marketing plan. See Haar, City as Campus, 153.

17. Wagner, “Checkerboard Owner Asked for U of C’s Help.” On the consequences of Hyde Park urban renewal, see Stevens, “Learning from the ‘Terrible Mistakes’ of Urban Renewal.”

18. See Tierney, “Rezoning Chicago’s Modernisms”; Lambert, Mies in America; Linda Lutton, “Racial Change in Pilsen: Mi casa? Tu casa?,” WBEZ, August 30, 2012,; Karen Fehsenfeld, “Zoning in on Pilsen: As Development Moves In, Old-Timers Move Out,” ChicagoTalks, May 26, 2010,; and Haar, City as Campus, 155–60. On “leakage,” see “Pair of Publications Spotlight Hyde Park Retail Development,” Hyde Park Herald, July 26, 2008.

19. Johnson, “Famed Checkerboard Lounge to Reopen in Hyde Park”; and Wagner, “Checkerboard Owner Asked for U of C’s Help.”

20. UChicagoNews, “University of Chicago Purchases Harper Court, Partners with City to Revitalize Fifty-Third Street,” May 13, 2008,; and Kadesha Thomas, “What’s Up with Harper Theater,” 53rd (blog), (accessed February 12, 2010). [End Page 100]

21. Kate Hawley, “Harper Court Developer Selected,” Hyde Park Herald, January 20, 2010; Steve Kloehn, “Community Hears the Latest Ideas for Harper Court,” 53rd (blog), (accessed February 17, 2010); Kadesha Thomas, “Harper Court Moving Forward—Three Contenders,” 53rd (blog), (accessed September 17, 2009). Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is generally described as a redevelopment program where property tax dollars are transferred to a centralized fund and then distributed to specially designated TIF districts slated for projects to eradicate blight and bolster development in communities that would not otherwise see investment. Once the TIF district receives attention for investment, most times property values rise, but under a TIF agreement the value of taxable property is frozen and any additional revenue from increased property value goes into a separate city fund to pay back the initial bond. Mayor Richard M. Daley was a major advocate of TIFs, creating over 160 districts during his tenure. Chicago Reader staff writer Ben Joravsky remains an unrelenting critic of TIFs in Chicago, focusing on the lack of public oversight for what he describes as a “shadow budget” under the mayor’s control that also goes to subsidize big developers in affluent neighborhoods. Others warn that when TIFs encourage investment and raise property values, they become a lever for gentrification. At the same time, property taxes have to be raised to pay for schools and other public services when taxable property value freezes under a TIFF and any increased taxable value goes directly to the city fund. In August 2012 teachers and activists protested the use of millions from a TIF fund to build the Hyatt Hotel for Harper Court; saying that funds should go to schools, not hotels. The decision was especially controversial because Penny Pritzker sat on the Hyatt board and the Board of Education (BOE). She resigned from the BOE in March 2013. See Jordan Larson, “Hyde Park Hotel Construction Draws Protest,” Chicago Reader, August 10, 2012. As part of an extensive series of Chicago Reader TIF articles by Joravsky, see “A TIF under the Microscope,” July 15, 2010; “Shedding Light on the Shadow Budget,” December 10, 2009; “October Surprise,” November 5, 2009; “Mr. Big Spender,” August 5, 2009; “University Village: The Story’s Not Finished,” May 28, 2009; and “Show Us the Money,” March 19, 2009.

22. Lisa Grant, “U of C Needs to Work in Partnership with Community,” Hyde Park Herald, August 27, 2008.

23. For enthusiastic support of Harper Court developments, see the blog Hyde Park Progress,, September 7, 2009, and January 14, 2010. See also Nolan, “Hyde Park’s Big Test”; and Kate Hawley, “Big Plans Dominate Hyde Park Real Estate in 2008,” Hyde Park Herald, December 31, 2008. On closings and controversy, see Deva Woodley, “Growing Pains: Dixie Kitchen Closing June 7th,” 53rd (blog), (accessed January 1, 2009); Nolan, “Hyde Park’s Big Test”; Wendell Hutson, “Black Restaurants to Be Displaced by Redevelopment Project”; Johnathon Briggs, “Hyde Park Haircut Hub in the Move: U of C Redevelopment Plan Forces Out Neighborhood Institution,” Chicago Tribune, December 27, 2006; and Jeremy Adragna, “Bagel Store Closes after Lease Spat with U of C,” Hyde Park Herald, February 11, 2004. See also Christopher Mele, Selling the Lower East Side: Culture, Real Estate, and Resistance in New York City (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002).

24. Hyde Park is referenced as a “company town” in Valetta Press, Hyde Park/Kenwood: A Case Study of Urban Renewal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971). See also Michael Lipkin, “The Way Things Work: Land Ownership,” Chicago Maroon, December 1, 2008; and Adrian Florido, “Town/Gown,” Chicago Maroon, September 24, 2008. On expansion beyond Harper Court, see Ella Christoph, “University, Community Leaders Discuss Washington Park Plans,” Chicago Maroon, November 11, 2008; and Kathy Chaney, “University of Chicago Buying into Washington Park, without Notice to Ward Leader,” Chicago Defender, September 3, 2008. At the time, Washington Park was a central location in Chicago’s Olympic site bid, but the 2012 Games went to London. On the “South Campus,” see Rachel Cromidas, “U of C Alum Anticipates South Campus Growth, Rehabs Old Apartment Buildings for Students,” Chicago Maroon, March 3, 2009; Robert Becker, “Woodlawn Watches Warily as U of C Stretches South,” Chicago Tribune, October 12, 2004; Carl Pickerill, “Expansion Draws Ire of Woodlawn Residents,” Chicago Maroon, November 21, 2004; Leah Samuel, “Losing Confidence,” Chicago Reporter, March–April 2006; and Kelin Hall, “Subsidized Housing Complex South of Campus Changes Hands,” Chicago Maroon, February 6, 2009. See also Kate Hawley, “Big Plans Dominate Hyde Park Real Estate in 2008,” Hyde Park Herald, December 31, 2008; and Jeremy [End Page 101] Adragna, “Master Plan Moves into Newest Phase,” Hyde Park Herald, August 3, 2008. On hospital expansion, see Robinson, “This Tale of Two Cities”; “Drexel Ave. Homes to Be Razed for Hospital Tower,” Hyde Park Herald, April 21, 2004; “University Buys Block for Hospital,” Hyde Park Herald, August 8, 2007; Bruce Jaspen, “U of C Goes Forward with New Facility; Despite Economy, Financing in Works for Hospital Pavilion,” Chicago Tribune, July 23, 2009; and Jason Grotto, “We Can’t Do Everything for Everyone; U of C to Close Clinic but Says It Is Not Abandoning Poor Patients,” Chicago Tribune, May 19, 2009.

25. Jeremy Adragna, “University Police Looking Northward to Bronzeville,” Hyde Park Herald, February 11, 2004; Grace G. Dawson, “U of C Proves It Can Meet School Demands,” Hyde Park Herald, December 8, 2004. On the Harlem comparison, see Hyra, New Urban Renewal; Robin D. G. Kelley, “Disappearing Acts: Harlem in Transition,” in The Suburbanization of New York: Is the World’s Greatest City Becoming Just Another Town, ed. Jerilou Hammett and Kingsley Hammett (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003); and Monique Taylor, Harlem between Heaven and Hell (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002). For the history of the University of Chicago private security force, see Segal, “‘We Must Do Something Ourselves.’” On the controversies surrounding the U of C’s growing influence on Chicago secondary education, see Pauline Lipman, The New Political Economy of Urban Education: Neoliberalism, Race, and the Right to the City (New York: Routledge, 2011).

26. See Anthony Bishop, “Checkerboard Seeks New Ways to Attract Business,” Hyde Park Herald, May 10, 2006; and Lindsay Welbers, “Harper Court Celebrated,” Hyde Park Herald, November 13, 2013.

27. See Celia Bever, “O-Issue: Harper Court and Fifty-Third Street Development,” Chicago Maroon, September 22, 2013; and “ULI Case Studies: Harper Court,” Urban Land Institute, October 2013, See also David Harvey, Spaces of Capital: Toward a Critical Geography (London: Routledge, 2001); and Logan and Molotch, Urban Fortunes.

28. See Craig Barner, “University of Chicago: Masterpieces of the Midway Materialize in Hyde Park,” McGraw-Hill Construction, (accessed June 15, 2010).

29. On Pittsburgh, see Darrell Hughes, “Pittsburgh’s Reinvention from Steel City to Tech Hub,” U.S. Chamber of Congress, February 12, 2014,; Glenn Thursh, “The Robots That Saved Pittsburgh: How the Steel City Avoided Detroit’s Fate,” Politico Magazine, February 4, 2014; LaQuatra Bonci Associates and Loysen+Kreuthmeier Architects, “Preliminary Land Development Plan: The Pittsburgh Technology Center,” January 2007,; Robert E. Gleeson, “Toward a Shared Economic Vision for Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania: A White Paper Update,” September 1994, John H. Heinz III Center for Economic Development, Carnegie Mellon. On St. Louis, see Jeannette Cooperman, “The Complex Legacy of Father Lawrence Biondi,” St. Louis Magazine, October 2013; Tim Bryant, “SLU Won’t Say How It Plans to Use Properties,” St. Louis Dispatch, November 20, 2011; Paul Hohmann, “SLU Trades One Street for Another,” Vanishing STL, April 30, 2010,; and Michele Parrish, “SLU Home Ownership Plan to Spur Area Development,” University News, February 6, 2003.

30. On Roxbury, see Delores Handy, “Residents Continue Fight against BU Infectious Disease Lab,” WBUR, April 11, 2013,; H. Patricia Hynes, Klare Allen, and Eloise Lawrence, “The Boston University Bioab: A Case of Environmental Justice” (paper submitted for “The State of Environmental Justice in America Conference,” Howard University Law School, March 29–31, 2007). On Providence, see Jennifer Levitz, “Ivy League School to Pay City Millions,” Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2012; Erika Niedowski, “Brown University Taxes: Providence Takes on School in Town-Gown Money Clash,” Huffington Post,; Kevin Kiley, “Brown Dispute Questions What’s a Fair Payment,” Inside Higher Ed, February 10, 2012. On Johns Hopkins, see Timothy Williams, “Racial Bias Seen in Study of Lead Dust and Children,” New York Times, September 15, 2011; Luke Broadwater, “Kennedy Krieger Sued over Lead Paint Study,” Baltimore Sun, September 15, 2011; and Manuel Roig-Fanzia, “My Kids Were Used as Guinea Pigs,” Washington Post, August 24, 2001.

31. See Ross, “Universities and the Urban Growth Machine”; Jean Comaroff and John Comaroff, eds., Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of Neoliberalism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001). [End Page 102]

32. Meagan McCardle, “Columbia Eminent Domain Case Will Not Be Heard,” Atlantic, December 14, 2010; Charles Bagli, “Court Upholds Columbia Campus Expansion Plan,” New York Times, June 24, 2010; Bagli, “Court Bars New York’s Takeover of Land for Columbia Campus,” New York Times, December 3, 2009; Bagli, “Judge Blocks Part of NYU’s Plan for Four Towers in Greenwich Village,” New York Times, January 7, 2014; Nick Pinto, “As Growth Shifts into Overdrive, NYU Faces a Rebellion from Within,” Village Voice, February 20, 2013; Gabriel Sherman, “The School That Ate New York,” New York Magazine, November 14, 2010; “Looking to the Future,” NYU Alumni Magazine 15 (Fall 2010); Daniel Luzer, “The Prestige Racket,” Washington Monthly, August 22, 2010; Jonathan Shaw, “Building—and Buying—a Campus: The Recent Boom—and the Future in Allston,” Harvard Magazine, September–October 2011; Lawrence Biemiller, “Harvard U Offers a New Plan for Alston Land Holdings,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 16, 2011; James Atlas, “The Battle behind the Battle at Harvard,” New York Times, February 27, 2005; Michael Ryan, “Painting the Town Crimson,” Boston Globe, October 24, 2004; Paul Grimaldi, “Piecing Together a Knowledge District for Providence,” Providence Journal, April 3, 2011; “Town/Brown: A Five Part Series Examining Brown’s Multifaceted Relationship with the City It Calls Home,” Brown Daily Herald, October 21–November 2, 2009; Katherine Long, “U Expands Off-Campus Holdings,” Brown Daily Herald, March 17, 2011; Davarian L. Baldwin, “Phoenix Rising? Arizona State University as an Urban Growth Machine,” The Urban Planet: Journal for Trinity College-Center for Urban and Global Studies 6 (Fall 2013); Andrew Ross, Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011); Debra Friedman, “An Extraordinary Partnership between Arizona State University and the City of Phoenix,” Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement 13.3 (2009): 89–99; Keefer, “Politicization of Space”; Etienne, Pushing Back the Gates; and Judith Rodin, The University and Urban Revival: Out of the Ivory Tower and into the Streets (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007). [End Page 103]

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