Chicago and Harold Washington
Harold Washington was known as Chicago’s first African American mayor (1983-87) and as a reform mayor who presided over a drastic reduction in patronage jobs, the death of “the machine as we knew it” in the face of massive city council resistance – a period called “council wars.” Washington’s innovative, neighborhood-oriented economic policy is less well known. City planner Robert Mier and a set of local academics and activists had created the Rehab Network and the Community Workshop in Economic Development, and their ideas infused Washington’s campaign. Mier later became Commissioner of Economic Development, and many others became involved in administrative posts or in continued neighborhood activism pressuring the city administration.
For retrospective work on the Washington mayoralty, see Gary Rivlin, Fire on the Prairie (1992). See Pierre Clavel and Wim Wewel, eds., Harold Washington and the Neighborhoods (1991) for chapters by city workers and community activists. Joel Rast, Remaking Chicago: The Political Origins of Urban Industrial Change (1999), recounts the development of a neighborhood oriented economic policy and its promulgation for a number of years in the successor mayoralty of Richard M. Daley. Robert Mier’s Social Justice and Local Development Policy (1993) recounts his work, with co-authors from among his colleagues. See also Norman Krumholz and Pierre Clavel, Reinventing Cities: Equity Planners Tell Their Stories (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994) and Cornell doctoral theses: Xolela Mangcu, “Harold Washington and The Cultural Transformation of Local Government in Chicago, 1983-1987″ (1997) and Kenneth Reardon, “Local Economic Development in Chicago 1983-1987″ (1990). A recent addition would be Pierre Clavel, Activists in City Hall: The Progressive Response to the Reagan Era in Boston and Chicago (2010).
Series VIII: Chicago
Research by Kenneth Reardon, Xolela Mangcu, and Pierre Clavel, and contributions from many others, are reflected in the Cornell collection. At this time, there are 40 city documents and other items from the neighborhood movement, 32 news clippings covering mainly the years 1980-1988, and eight longer manuscripts and published articles. There is also a 25-minute video, “Harold Washington and the Neighborhoods,” produced by Wim Wiewel and Pierre Clavel in 1991.
Other archival sources include the “Harold Washington Neighborhood Papers” collection, at the Chicago Historical Society, and collections at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago.