The Ghetto in Three Parts: Seattle


It's true. As a native Seattleite, I had no conception of what "projects" were and how non-brown/non-poor people refused to consider the possibility of living anywhere close to them until I moved to NYC. Even the NYCHA projects in Chelsea, which have become a NORC ("Naturally Occurring Retirement Community"), are shunned. It's amazing how the streetscape can change from one side of the street to the other.

Interestingly, a long-time Manhattan resident (a Vogue editor?), in the face of Manhattan's gentrification, bland homogenization, and rising rents, decided to move right up next to the massive blocks of NYCHA projects in Alphabet City, knowing that his new neighborhood would be the last place in lower Manhattan to ever gentrify, and thus retain longest some of the characteristics he most liked about "old" Manhattan. (It also saved him from moving into Brooklyn.)
There aren't really any ghettos west of St. Louis and Chicago.
Would love to read your thoughts if you ever do find a way to express why the lack of a ghetto in Seattle is troubling/complicating.
Raindrip dear, take a trip to Minneapolis, Omaha, or Kansas City. You'll find all the ghetto you could ever hope for.
Good Afternoon Charles,
Like at @3, I too am perplexed as to why you and your acquaintance would be "troubled" that Seattle "never had a ghetto"? Seems to me that it could only be impressive that this city was and is able draw to minorities. And, that at one time even Columbia City was working class, vibrant & largely African-American. Seems quite positive to me and hardly troubling.
I am not sure there were no Chinese ghettos in Seattle in view of the race riot to push them out during the late 19th century.

Also, isn't a ghetto simply a district inhabited by an ethnic minority because of legal, social and economic reasons? It seems to apply to minority neighborhoods in the past especially considering Seattle's segregated history (until relatively recently)…
The CD was the ghetto. It's not the same ghetto that Philly or Baltimore or DC has, but it was a ghetto.

The real difference between Seattle and these other cities is fewer (or maybe just less visible) upper-middle class blacks. In the NY subways, you see plenty of black people in suits. Not as much in Seattle (even correcting for the fact that no one wears suits around here). More than one visitor has noted this to me.

If a group of people lives in a certain area because they cannot live in other areas due to financial or social discrimination, that's a ghetto.
In 1865, areas near Pioneer Square were a ghetto. That's where the term "Skid Row" came from. Seattle has had many a ghetto. But unlike dysfunctional cities such as NYC, we became a real world class city and got rid of most of them decades ago.

That we lack ghettos now is all the reason we need to not emulate corporatized cities that still do. We must be doing something right by doing something differently.