How to Decimate a City
Nov 20, 2015
SYRACUSE—The neighborhood with the most concentrated poverty in America has Victorian-style homes with big porches, immaculate public parks, and tree-lined streets where children play. But some of the homes are crumbling or abandoned, and the parks are empty because a recent spate of shootings in this city has made parents fear for their children’s safety.
The poverty is more evident a few blocks away, where families are crowded into public housing near the overpass of I-81, an elevated highway that cuts through the heart of the city. There are no supermarkets here, just small convenience stores that advertise that they sell cigarettes and accept food stamps. Across the street from one store, men and women sit in an empty lot, some in rolling office chairs, others leaning on cars or rickety shopping carts.
Poverty under most circumstances causes hardship and suffering. But being poor and surrounded by other poor people has particularly rough consequences: Those raised in such neighborhoods (what academics tend to call areas of concentrated poverty and everybody else calls slums or ghettos) are far less likely to graduate from high school, attend college, and put off having children. They’re also much less likely to reach a different income level from the one in which they were raised.
Additionally, the neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of poor people tend to have worse schools, fewer businesses (there not being enough consumers with disposable income to sustain them), and more violence... the rest (Picture by Raymond Dague-click to enlarge)
Syracuse will be featured in C-SPAN’s "Cities Tour" this weekend. C-SPAN Cities Tour staff visited numerous locations in the area to explore the unique history and literary culture of the area, including some at the University.