Progressive Movement in Chicago Today

Authors: John Betancur*, Dept of Urban Planning and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Leonor Vanik*, UIC-Chicago
Topics: Political Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: Chicago, Progressive Movement, Minorities
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Studio 8, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In 1982, a grassroots movement paved the way to the election of Harold Washington, the first non-White mayor of Chicago in 1983, and the implementation of a progressive planning agenda. By 1989, after his sudden death, the coalition broke apart over multiple issues thus failing to translate their collaborative efforts into a sustained progressive urban planning agenda. What follows is the inability of this minority coalition to recapture the movement against the democratic “Machine” established by Mayor Richard J. Daley and keenly utilized by his son, Mayor Richard M. Daley; his successor Rahm Emanuel, inherited the Machine legacy but his reelection campaign in 2014 became a battle ground for survival against the Latino mayoral candidate, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a member of the grassroots coalition who carried the legacy of the progressive coalition. With approximately three months between announcing his candidacy and the primary election, we use an exploratory historical methodology, purposive and snowball sampling, to understand the forces within the progressive coalition that lead to the first mayoral runoff in Chicago history. We develop a critical narrative not only on the nature and dynamics of progressive planning in Chicago but, of the trajectory of progressive planning and its current status in Chicago, with references to other cities in the USA. As cities throughout the world are pushed into agendas of competitiveness, the possibilities of progressive planning to address the challenges of polarization associated with this agenda become particularly timely and urgent.

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