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The City

By USA TODAY | Wondery

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The City tells true stories of how power works in urban America. Season 1 begins in Chicago, 1990. Winter is turning into spring, and in Chicago, that means construction season. After years of disinvestment, highways are rebuilt, old buildings demolished, new skyscrapers erected. All that rubble has to go somewhere, and its destination isn’t a landfill—it’s a pair of vacant lots in a black, working-class neighborhood called North Lawndale. The man behind this operation is a white guy sporting a Cosby sweater and underworld connections. What follows is a tour de force through Chicago’s underbelly: Aldermen get indicted. An FBI investigation goes awry. A community’s resilience is tested—all unfolding under the spectre of racism in America. Learn more and explore the dumps in North Lawndale via augmented reality at

Customer Reviews

Good - but desperate?

Pretty good story and well covered. Good reenactments and political staging. However, seems desperate trying to find racism in the plot. It may, or may not be there, but seems over the top in trying to point this direction.

Is it about race or class? I think the later.

I really enjoy this podcast, but am taking away stars because I'm conflicted by the show's adamant stance that the placement of these city dumps is due to racism. The show comes to this conclusion by pointing out that most city dumps that are located in neighborhoods, and remain in those neighborhoods, tend to be located in black and brown communities. As the recent episode tells us, the word coined for this by sociologists is "enviromental racism". But correlation doesn't always equal causation. A just as plausible explanation is that city dumps are placed intentionally placed in neighborhoods that are poor, and where residents either do not have the iniative or the finances to have them stopped or removed. And minority neighborhoods tend to be poorer than white neighborhoods. So, it seems to me that it's unlikely that city developers are looking at ways to stick it to minorities as much as it their intention to stick it to the poor that can't fight back. This isn't about racism, it's about classicism. Unfortunately the show makes the point that this MUST be racial. I think at one point in the latest episode that it's inarguable. That's ridiculous, of course. Nothing is beyond argument.

We lived this.

Having moved to N Lawndale in 1989 to do economic development. It grieved us to watch this happen; and in the end, it was the endemic corruption in all arenas of Chicago government that preclude more success than what was possible.

This is a good piece. It will be interesting to see if later podcasts reveal the corruption within City Government (that is still endemic). It is noteworthy that it took Federal law enforcement to deal with this (which is the consistent pattern required to effect even temporary justice in Chicago and the close suburbs).

Kudos to those residents and others who stood up to organized crime, and the myriad of obstacles they faced from those who are paid to prevent and respond to these issues.