ABOUT THIS BOOK
Winner of the Frederick Jackson Turner Award
Winner of the George Perkins Marsh Prize
Winner of the John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize
“A major work of history that brings together African-American history and environmental studies in exciting ways.”
—Davarian L. Baldwin, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Between 1915 and 1940, hundreds of thousands of African Americans left the rural South to begin new lives in the urban North. In Chicago, the black population quintupled to more than 275,000. Most historians map the integration of southern and northern black culture by looking at labor, politics, and popular culture. An award-winning environmental historian, Brian McCammack charts a different course, considering instead how black Chicagoans forged material and imaginative connections to nature.
The first major history to frame the Great Migration as an environmental experience, Landscapes of Hope takes us to Chicago’s parks and beaches as well as to the youth camps, vacation resorts, farms, and forests of the rural Midwest. Situated at the intersection of race and place in American history, it traces the contours of a black environmental consciousness that runs throughout the African American experience.
“Uncovers the untold history of African Americans’ migration to Chicago as they constructed both material and immaterial connections to nature.”
—Teona Williams, Black Perspectives
“A beautifully written, smart, painstakingly researched account that adds nuance to the growing field of African American environmental history.”
—Colin Fisher, American Historical Review
“If in the South nature was associated with labor, for the inhabitants of the crowded tenements in Chicago, nature increasingly became a source of leisure.”
—Reinier de Graaf, New York Review of Books
A beautifully written, smart, painstakingly researched account that adds nuance to the growing field of African American environmental history.
-- Colin Fisher American Historical Review
A major work of history that brings together African-American history and environmental studies in exciting ways.
-- Davarian L. Baldwin Journal of Interdisciplinary History
A fascinating narrative of Black life in Chicago.
-- Robert Greene II S-USIH: Society for U.S. Intellectual History
McCammack uncovers the untold history of African Americans’ migration to Chicago as they constructed both material and immaterial connections to nature… His attention to the complex landscapes that African Americans navigated is compelling.
-- Teona Williams Black Perspectives
The way nature helped African-Americans endure the segregated spaces they inhabited in and around Chicago forms the subject of Landscapes of Hope…If in the South nature was associated with labor, for the inhabitants of the crowded tenements in Chicago, nature increasingly became a source of leisure.
-- Reinier de Graaf New York Review of Books
Anyone interested in the history of Black Chicago as well as the history of Chicago and the natural space in which the city was built and has existed for nearly two centuries will find the book filled with important information and telling insights.
-- Patrick Reardon Third Coast
Deeply researched and beautifully written, Landscapes of Hope shows how African American migrants to Chicago experienced, adapted to, and reshaped their new world. Through a close examination of African American life in the northern metropolis, Brian McCammack reveals an urban environment that was far more rich, varied, and dynamic than we had imagined, and one that was more than a mere stage for contests over jobs, housing, and political power. Rather, he demonstrates that African Americans’ efforts to claim urban space and enjoy the city’s outdoor parks, beaches, playgrounds, and nature preserves formed a vital element of their larger struggle for freedom.
-- Andrew W. Kahrl, author of The Land Was Ours
McCammack’s book provides a literal landscaping of black modernity. In doing so, it shines new light on Black Chicago, forcing us to look again at things we thought we knew so well. Landscapes of Hope brings together environmental justice and African American history in new ways, reminding us that race must be central both to our debates about environmental injustice and to our general understanding of the environment itself.
-- Davarian L. Baldwin, author of Chicago’s New Negroes
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction: Kinship with the Soil
I. The Migration Years, 1915–1929
1. “Booker T.” Washington Park and Chicago’s
2. Black Chicagoans in Unexpected Places
II. The Depression Years, 1930–1940
3. Playgrounds and Protest Grounds
4. Back to Nature in Hard Times
5. Building Men and Building Trees
Epilogue: A Century of Migration to That Great Iron City