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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Questions/Comments for Rich Schein

In preparation for our class with Rich Schein, please post here your paragraph-long question or comment based on the article assigned by noon on Wednesday, February 8.

14 comments:

  1. It is interesting how the very history of the architecture of Lexington’s neighborhoods impacts the neighborhoods still today. In the article it was stated that, “the Hampton Court gate functions as a contemporary boundary between white and black, even rich and poor in Lexington… also provides a metaphorical entryway into the changing urban historical geographies of Lexington, Kentucky as well as an introduction to the social and material processes of racial order in that city,” (945). What purpose do these boundaries serve and if they serve no justifiable purpose why can’t we find a way to get rid of them?

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  2. The article discusses in depth how the city of Lexington reached its current point of racial divide. The northern section of the city is particularly referenced as having a great lack of social cohesion despite the outstanding proximity of communities that create a diverse neighborhood makeup. What are some possible ways in which this divide can be eased to benefit the community as a whole?
    One example that is mentioned is the possibility of school-encouraged interaction if white residents "don't send their children to private school." Is this a viable option, or would another strategy be as/more effective?

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  3. It continues to surprise me how Lexington’s history with race continues to shape the community today. It seems that Lexington has always had a trend of gentrification, in one form or another. With this history in mind, how does one begin to ease the tensions between the white/black, rich/poor divide, especially as more and more businesses “invade,” so to speak, the northern side of Lexington? Is there a way to develop these businesses without displacing long-time residents and, instead, becoming a part of pre-existing communities?

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  4. Hindsight, especially when illuminated by the historical examples you have shared in your article, allows us to see the impact of decisions that feel small more clearly. The momentary decision to permanently close a gate at Hampton Court may have felt like a relatively quiet and simple issue of security to the few people who pushed it through but its re-establishment of (and amplification of) historical racial boundaries creates a long-term divisive relationship between communities that may have learned to coexist more effectively without a sealed gate. With this knowledge gained from your article, I am compelled to ask if you know any examples where civic awareness of this kind of urban morphology has influenced public discourse and policy in regards to the built environment? More specifically, do you have reason to believe more people knowing about stories like the one you detail with the Hampton Court gate could influence a city’s decisions in regards to conversations like the one Lexington had a year ago around the confederate monuments on the grounds of the old courthouse?

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  5. Your article outlines two types of living spaces for free blacks in Lexington; the African American enclaves like Kinkeadtown and the alley housing which connected the smaller homes of free blacks more directly with and closer to the homes and factories of white bosses. Due to the anonymity provided by the enclaves, rich cultural communities developed around Kinkeadtown, Smithtown, and Davis Bottoms but each of these enclaves has been the subject of the “urban clearance” you mention on p-953. Between this kind of urban clearance of African-American enclaves used to create transportation corridors and the slower, privately funded process of gentrification that has recently changed the racial demographics on some of the streets that still contain remnants of alley housing, what pieces of our built environment still tell an accurate history of African American life in Lexington? How can we preserve such histories? Do you know of anything equivalent to the Bluegrass Trust designation to preserve historic buildings that has been applied effectively to preserve architectural pieces of African-American history (in Lexington or in any other city)?

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  6. What is the difference in having the gate or not at Hampton Court? I understand that it is creating a divide between the community, but wouldn't there still be a conscious divide if they took down the gate. I feel that people would still perceive the gated and not gated as two different places. How would just the gate create all these "underlying rules" without someone starting the thoughts? Does the gate or the people within and outside the gated community create these perceptions? Is the gate any different than big elaborate entrances to new and nicer homes?

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  7. It is always interesting for me when I am asked to consider the spatial layout of the city I am in itself as a contributing factor to the divide we experience in our communities. It is interesting because it makes sense, and it is so easy to see once it is laid out for me, but because of my privilege it isn't something I am conscious of all of the time. I am curious to know how this is reflected in the existing maps provided by our city. Do these maps contribute in any way to how we understand these spaces? Do they enable this division or do they challenge it? What can we do to challenge these ideas as we move through these spaces ourselves?

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  8. On page 956 you wrote that "Hampton Court (with elite Transylvania University at its back) now appears as the end of a wedge of whiteness poking into the primarily poor and black sections of the city". Since this article was written Transylvania has purchased even more property north of Fourth Street. How might the growing presence of Transylvania University affect the "racial formation" of the North End?

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. Above, Elly has asked about the potential impacts of Transylvania University's present (and future) decisions on the racial formations of the North End. In addition, I would like to ask about Transylvania's past role in shaping the racial formation of Lexington. Would you consider the plots of land possessed by Transylvania in its late-18th and 19th century iterations (between the present streets of Broadway, Third, Fourth, and Upper, I assume) to be similar to the affluent, white-dominated "out-lots?" What kinds of physical barriers might have existed between Transylvania and the surrounding community in the Reconstruction Era and beyond (I have heard rumors of a wall...)? Was there any point in Transylvania's history when the school chose to open itself up to its neighbors (even if symbolically)? Has the school had its own "Hampton Gate" incidents?

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  11. At this point the all class has knowledge of Lexington and black history. This reading have given us more knowledge of how urbanization in Lexington happened and how it keeps black in their own neighborhood. For me to understand urbanization in Lexington and the southern cities I feel like I’m missing information from Hamlits home to urbanization ( Hamlits home where the home build on farm land for slaves and worker and some time it was built on factory land to keep slave close to work

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  12. For years I had always wondered why the houses were arranged the ways they were and now I know! I wonder though that because the houses still remain in the layout that they originally did for reasons motivated by race and socio/economic class, will downtown Lexington always have that divide? It seems gentrification is renovating and leveling up the housing market in the area, but that displaces the people who have lived here for generations. Can a happy medium be found between leveling up the housing market, while also creating a diverse neighborhood that interacts with each other on a deeper level unlike the side by side but still separated world the article speaks so much on?

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  13. Apart from every city ive seen Lexington is by far one of the strangest in housing. the article was very informative on how this and general racism and gentrification from the past still affects us today. So why are these symbols of a racial divide still around today? why not take away the cemented gate and open up the community again?

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