Morris "Dino" Robinson
Morris "Dino" Robinson

In 1900 a total of 737 Black people lived in Evanston. Many lived along Evanston’s three railroad lines, and there were other pockets of Black people scattered throughout Evanston, including on Dempster Street near Judson Avenue; on South Boulevard near Chicago Avenue; and on Sherman Avenue near Lee Street.

As the Black population grew by more than 5,000 people between 1900 and 1940, Black people were systematically segregated into a triangular area of the City, essentially bounded by the North Shore Channel on the north and west, the Metra tracks on the east, and Church Street on the south. Weise, Andrew, “Black Housing, White Finance: African American Housing and Home Ownership in Evanston, Illinois, Before 1940,” Journal of Social History, vol. 31, no. 2 (1999).

“Between 1910 and 1940, there was not a single area of African American expansion outside of west Evanston, in spite of Black population growth of almost 5,000,” said historian Andrew Wiese. “To the contrary, public and private actions reduced the number of African American housing units outside these boundaries.” Id.

By 1940, census data showed that 84% of Black households in Evanston lived in the triangular area that is shaded light red in the above map. This area was highly segregated – 95% Black. Beyond these bounds, Black families lived on Garnett Place (then called Ayars, just north of Emerson) and in a few pockets of older homes purchased before 1900.

The segregation severely limited the supply of housing available to Black people and increased the cost of housing. Id.  It increased overcrowding to the point where occupancy was 150% in 1940, according to the federal Homeowners Loan Corporation in a narrative accompanying its 1940 redlined map of Evanston. [N. 1]

In November 2019, City Council decided to provide Reparations to address past discrimination against Black people in Evanston. Council decided to deposit into a Reparations Fund up to $10 million in City tax revenues collected from the sale of recreational marijuana.

On Aug. 28, 2020, a Reparations Subcommittee, appointed by City Council, decided to recommend that Council approve the use of $400,000 in reparations funds for housing assistance programs that would benefit an estimated 16 households.  The $400,000 would be used to provide housing assistance to help Black residents whose ancestors were discriminated against by the City in the period 1900 to 1969, or who themselves were discriminated against by the City.

On Sept. 25, Nicholas Cummings, Deputy City Attorney for Evanston, advised the Reparations Subcommittee that in order for the City to justify reparations, the City needed to demonstrate that it “was actually complicit” in housing discrimination against Black people in the past. He explained this was required under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S.  Constitution, citing the case City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469 (1989)

Mr. Cummings said that a 76-page report presented to the Subcommittee on Sept. 25 provides the basis for making reparations. The report titled “Evanston Policies and Practices Directly Affecting the African American Community, 1900 – 1960 (and Present)” (the Report) was prepared by Dino Robinson, Executive Director of Shorefront Legacy Center, and Jenny Thompson, Director of Education of the Evanston History Center.

 The Report concludes, “Along with the private and tacit practices that shaped a segregated city, the City of Evanston also officially supported and enabled the practice of segregation.”

The Report points to a number of actions taken by City Council that supports its conclusion, such as passing a zoning ordinance in 1921; clearing areas where Black families lived on the grounds they were blighted; issuing permits to Northwestern University to develop temporary, segregated housing for veterans; allowing temporary housing for veterans to be segregated; and failing to prohibit discrimination in housing until the late 1960s. (Report, pp. 35-57).

The Report also discusses how brokers, lenders, community leaders, and neighbors contributed to redlining, segregation and discriminatory practices in housing in Evanston. This article attempts only to summarize the portions of the Report that address the City’s role. See link below to review the entire Report.

Mr. Robinson said the Report is still a work in progress.

The City’s 1921 Zoning Ordinance

 The City adopted its first zoning ordinance in 1921. The Report says this was “a key piece of legislation that tacitly served as an effort by City officials to segregate the City by race.” (Report, p. 39)

The 1921 Zoning Ordinance

The zoning ordinance did not mention race and did not expressly preclude Black people from living in any area of the City or expressly require them to live in a particular area of the City.

The ordinance did create five zoning districts: A –Residential; B- Residential; C- Commercial; D – Industrial; and E – Unrestricted.

·       District A was for single family homes and also permitted churches and temples, schools and colleges, libraries, and farming and truck gardening.

·       District B permitted any uses permitted in District A and also tenement houses [a building for two or more families in separate apartments]; hotels, private clubs and fraternity houses; boarding and lodging houses; institutions of an educational, philanthropic or eleemosynary nature; nurseries and greenhouses; and public garages.

·       Districts C, D and E allowed any uses that were permitted in Districts A and B as well as other uses.  Residences were thus permitted in each of the City’s Zoning Districts.

The Zoning Ordinance provided height restrictions for three different “Height Districts.” It also provided restrictions for three different “Area Districts.’ The area restrictions provided a minimum depth for rear yards and a minimum distance for side yards. It also provided that the footprint of the building could not exceed a certain percentage of the total lot size. There was no specific minimum lot size.

All existing uses were grandfathered in. In other words, if a particular piece of property was being used as a tenement building, as a retail store, or an industrial use, that use could continue to be used for that purpose.

A Use Map outlined the areas of the City that were in each Zoning Use District, and a portion of the Use Map is reproduced below (courtesy of Dr. Thompson). It appears that most of Evanston was included in District B.  Significant portions of the area south and east of the NorthShore Channel, west of Ridge Avenue, and north of Howard Street were included in District B, and many areas along the rail and the CTA tracks and along Central Street were also included in District B.

Most of Northwest Evanston and significant parts of the area north of Lee Street between Sherman Avenue and the Lake were in District A.

Conclusions About the Zoning

The Report notes that some of the first zoning ordinances adopted in the nation, primarily in the South, established “race districts (Atlanta)” or codified “race segregation” (Dallas), but in ­­­1917 the U.S. Supreme Court declared a racial zoning district in Louisville, Kentucky to be unconstitutional.  (Report, p. 39)

After that ruling, many cities implemented zoning ordinances to control land use, rather than zoning by race.  The Report says, “Under the guise of ‘protecting’ property values and guarding against ‘deterioration,’ zoning ordinances effectively controlled where and how city residents lived. The ordinances ‘sought to ensure control over the entire area of the city, and zoning itself ‘became an instrument that promoted spatial segregation, including racial segregation, but without directly mentioning the question of races.’” (Report, p. 40)

The Report says that zoning ordinances adopted in the 1920s have “increasingly come under scrutiny by scholars and historians who argue that one of the primary impulses behind such ordinances was to enforce segregation.” (Report, p. 39)

The Report cites a study conducted in 1924 by a Northwestern University student David Bruner. Mr. Bruner surveyed Black Evanston residents and investigated housing in Evanston, aided by the work of Evanston’s sanitary inspector, R.J. Lindsay. (Report, p. 40)

Mr. Bruner, the Report says, concluded that the white community in Evanston regarded the influx of Black southerners into the City as “a very real problem.” He noted that the number of Black residents in Evanston had grown to 2,522 in 1920, and he projected that the number could increase to 8,000.  (Report, p. 41)

 “The ‘problem’ was in fact a problem belonging to racist white people who viewed Black people as inferior or dangerous, and believed that their presence in a given location would have a negative impact on the city itself,” says the Report. “A large or growing Black population, therefore, was something that white people needed to control, according to Bruner; and as Bruner’s study makes clear, methods for control were found in a number of ways, from hiring practices to city zoning ordinances.” (Report, p. 41)

Referring to the “use map” of Evanston’s 1921 zoning ordinance, Mr. Bruner said that the map “indicates the kind of territories the Negroes find open to them: largely commercial and light industrial areas along the tracks, and districts so remote from transportation facilities as to be comparatively undesirable. It will be seen that practically no Class ‘A’ residential district is occupied by Negroes and none is likely to be opened.”(Report, p. 41)

The Report says, “Indeed, it must be understood that Evanston’s 1921 zoning ordinance imposed restrictions upon a city that was already, to some degree, unofficially zoned since a majority-Black neighborhood had already been established.

”The zoning ordinance essentially codified the process of limiting where Black residents could live, and ensured, as Bruner states clearly, that Black residents would not find ‘open’ to them any of the areas zoned as Class A in the future.”(Report, pp. 41-42)

The RoundTable asked Mr. Robinson and Dr. Thompson a few questions to clarify their conclusions about the impact the 1921 zoning ordinance had on segregation in Evanston. The RoundTable noted that some researchers and historians have concluded that zoning an area for single family homes has had the effect of excluding low-income households who do not have the resources to buy a single family home, and asked,  “Are you arguing that single family zoning had a discriminatory impact on Black households because they were low-income and often depended on rental income from their homes to make ends meet?” [N.2]

Dr. Thompson said, “No, not entirely.

“We are arguing that zoning was only one means to ensure that specific areas would be kept predominantly white and that the process of keeping Black residents living within designated areas had started prior to the 1921 zoning ordinance being passed. The process of segregation had begun with white homeowners, realtors, and landlords not selling/renting to Black people in certain areas, thus pushing them into locations on the west side of the city, a side of the city that was, as you say, undergoing development.

“Single family zoning had a discriminatory impact on Black people not only if they were low income and desired to rent rooms in their own homes; but it also had a discriminatory impact because many of the areas that were dominated by single family homes were already established as ‘white only.’ There are numerous reports of Black residents being forced into over-crowded areas and substandard housing and rentals in the western parts of Evanston, and those kinds of areas could only exist within Class B zoned areas. …

“As the west side was being developed, Black residents were directed there; and if a Black person or family wanted to live in a Class A area, a white homeowner, realtor, or landlord would not make those properties available to them, but would instead direct them to Class B areas. Hence, they would find themselves in over-crowded, more densely populated residential areas that were rapidly becoming majority Black.”

The RoundTable also asked: “Are there any provisions in the Zoning Ordinance that would have precluded Black households from living in Class B Districts? At the time the 1921 Zoning Code was adopted, most of the land west of Dodge in the Fifth Ward was vacant and  Black households expanded west in the Fifth Ward, and expanded south – although their expansion to the south was blocked and delayed due to restrictive covenants, white neighborhood groups opposition, brokers, and lenders. But is there anything in the 1921 Zoning Code that precluded them from moving into those areas which were also classified Class B?”

Dr. Thompson said, “There was nothing explicit in Evanston’s 1921 zoning ordinance that directly steered Black people into Class B areas, nor was there anything that precluded Black people from living in those areas. I think this is one of the most important aspects to the zoning ordinances that were enacted across the country. There is no explicit statement that outlines segregation. Instead, the language (and mapping) allowed for areas to be divided into various “uses,” and these uses followed and extended patterns of segregation that were already in place. They reinforced the dictates of the white majority.”

Dr. Thompson also said that areas zoned as District B, ‘‘were unhealthy since they were zoned close to pockets or areas zoned as ‘industrial’ which legally could include: manufacturers of gas, acid, creosote, disinfectants …”

“In addition,” Dr. Thompson said, “the ordinance created unequal zoning of neighborhoods. For instance, North Evanston, which also had some undeveloped tracts, according to 1920 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, was primarily zoned as Class A residential, with a smattering of commercial zoning allowed, and only a very small segment along the railroad tracks zoned as industrial. In contrast, an area on the west side of the City, also largely undeveloped, was zoned almost entirely as Class B. That area also included larger areas that were zoned as industrial and there was not a single area there that was zoned for Class A.”

As an example, Dr. Thompson provided maps showing an area south of Lake Street and east of Hartrey Avenue [now, south of Evanston Township High School] was zoned for industrial use.


The areas of Evanston that were classified in Zoning District A in 1921 were between 95% and 100% white in 1960. [N. 3]

Home Demolition in 1940 and 1941

“By 1940, roughly 6,000 Black residents lived in Evanston, and some city officials saw fit to once again tackle the ‘problem’ of ‘our non-white citizens,’” says the Report at page 42.  Evanston’s Mayor appointed a committee to take a look at Evanston’s housing, and the committee prepared a report in 1940 that contained a list of “problems” associated with the housing of Black residents. (Report, p. 42.)

“Negro groups as well as whites of low incomes do not pay enough taxes to support the services they consume,” said the Mayor’s committee. “A too large proportion in this group would soon mean poorer schools, streets and municipal services. To conserve the white market for their services Negroes should maintain their proportion of population about where it is. Otherwise taxes will go up and whites will move out or taxes will remain as is and services will go down.” (Report, pp. 42-43).

The Report says, “In order to protect property values, develop Evanston, and tackle the ‘problem’ of Black housing, the city adopted a policy of home demolition, a means by which the city and private citizens attempted to control and remove Black citizens from certain neighborhoods that lay beyond the west side (‘clearing’ those areas for ‘economic development.’).” (Report, 43)

 “In 1941, roughly fifteen homes owned and occupied by Black residents in the area near Haven School were destroyed. The demolition took place in order to make way for the construction of a football field,” says the Report, p.43

“Several other homes on Sherman Avenue were also destroyed that year to make room for an apartment building; and in south Evanston, more homes owned by Black residents were destroyed.”(Report, pp. 43-44).

The Report says people who supported the demolition often argued that the housing to be demolished was “substandard” or “unsanitary” or that certain areas were “blighted” or “overcrowded.” (Report, p. 43)

“But so-called ‘substandard’ housing was the result of segregation itself,” says the Report. “As mentioned above, many white landlords rented to Black tenants, charging more than white tenants would pay for comparable properties, and often failing to maintain the properties. Additionally, because there were so few opportunities for Black people to rent or own in the city beyond the west side, the area where the vast majority of Black residents lived became densely populated (and was zoned to allow that density). Many residents did not wish to live in housing that they considered overcrowded, too expensive, and lacking proper upkeep by landlords, but with nowhere else to go, they faced limited options.” (Report, p. 43)

In 1946, Alderman Edwin B. Jourdain, Jr. told City Council that the “severe shortage of housing” available to Black households was due to the “arbitrary limitation of land available for Negroes’ occupancy.”  Citing a study on housing in Illinois, Ald. Jourdain acknowledged that in Evanston there were “too few units’ for Black residents and most of those were substandard. Overcrowding of these inadequate units makes bad situations worse,” he said. (Report, p. 43)

He asked City Council to create an Evanston Housing Authority to address these issues. (Report, p. 44)

The Report says this was “one of his many attempts to urge City Council to address the housing shortage, the housing conditions, and restrictions, such as restrictive covenants, on Black residents. (Report, p. 43)

City Council did not itself address these issues and did not create an Evanston Housing Authority to do so.   


The Land Clearance Commission

On April 28, 1947, City Council created a Land Clearance Commission. The resolution creating the commission said 2,884 dwelling units in the City were more than 45 years old; 32 houses lacked indoor toilets; there were 444 houses in which more than one family shared a single toilet; the 1940 census found that 1,092 houses needed major repairs; many houses, due to continued neglect, required demolition; and the existence of these unsanitary, unsafe and dilapidated structures constituted a menace and hazard to the health and safety of the City.  (Report, p. 44)

The Report said the Land Clearance Commission’s mandate was to identify “substandard housing” in Evanston, purchase that housing, evict the tenants, and demolish the structures. This practice was presented as a means for City beautification and “redevelopment.” It was similar to many other practices across the country variously known as “slum clearance” and “blighted neighborhood development.” (Report, p. 45)

The Report says, “The demolition of housing was taking place as one of the final acts of segregation.” It quoted from the May 1947 issue of the News Index:

“Where will we move? Where can we buy property?. . . Because of the massive squeeze play directed against Negroes, you can move into the area generally called the “west side,” bounded by the canal and the railroad tracks. Eight to 10,000 of you are being herded into an area over which you can walk in less time than an hour. You are compelled to live in kitchens, attics, basements, and, possibly, closets and bathrooms . . . If you do not buy, then you move out of town. That is just the exact purpose of the squeeze play against Negroes in Evanston. By their own admission, openly published, whites who are smoking Negroes out of town are interested in keeping Negroes who can serve them as maids, chauffeurs, butlers, [and] dishwashers.” (Report, p. 43)

On June 14, 1948, Evanston’s Land Clearance Commission published a list of properties to be demolished. (Report, p. 45)

Evanston reportedly paid market costs to purchase the homes that were to be demolished, but those who were cast out did not necessarily have replacement housing made available to them, says the Report, p. 46.

In August 1948, a mass meeting of Black residents was held to address the new land clearance program. Several speakers said Evanston had failed to do anything constructive to help improve housing for Black residents. (Report, p. 46)

In the fall of 1948, properties were demolished in the following areas:

·       both sides of Hovland Court [just west of Dodge Avenue] between Church and Emerson streets;

·       both sides of Gray Avenue between Church and Emerson streets;

·       the east side of Wesley Avenue, between Emerson and Foster streets; and

·       a portion of the east side of Elmwood Ave between Lake and Grove streets.  (Report, p. 46)

Some of the condemned areas were set aside to use as parking lots. No plans were made to construct new housing or to assist people displaced to find new places to live in Evanston. In 1949, the League of Women Voters said, “Some cities have solved this dilemma with temporary housing for the dispossessed. Evanston, as yet, has found no solution.”(Report, p. 46)


The Postwar Housing Shortage and Veterans Housing:

After World War II, the City of Evanston issued building permits to Northwestern University to establish temporary housing for its students, conditioned on a requirement that “Northwestern will undertake to keep the buildings in repair and the property in a neat and orderly condition for the duration of the permit.” (Report, p. 50

Northwestern University did not allow Black students or Black visitors to live in its permanent housing, and Black students, including Black veterans, were not allowed to live in the temporary housing constructed during this period. (Report, p. 50)

The Report lists four times the City issued building permits to Northwestern in 1946 without requiring it to eliminate its policy of segregation. They four times were:

·       In April 1946, a permit to build 14 steel craft houses for temporary living quarters for students and faculty at 1420 Isabella St.;

·       In April 1946, a permit to erect 12 prefabricated metal buildings at 1845 -1875 Sheridan Road and 13 at 1801-1807 Sherman Ave. and 701-733 Clark St. to be used for temporary living quarters for single students.

·       In May 1946, a permit to build 50 single family units on the north side of Central Street between Girard and Ridge Ave.

·       In February 1946, a permit to build a 280-unit housing facility for returning (white only) veterans.  (Report, p. 50)

 Ald. Jourdain urged the Council to require Northwestern to drop its policy of segregation as a condition to get a permit for any new buildings. (Report, p. 51)

“The City certainly has a clear right and duty to refuse to help a discrimination which is so strongly against public policy, against the constitution, against the Civil Rights Act of the Illinois statutes,” said Ald. Jourdain. “In this housing shortage, houses are needed by everyone. This City should not issue permits for housing that bar so many people. The City must not go on record as standing idly by and tacitly aiding and abetting the Jim Crow housing units.” (Report, pp.52-53

Ald. Jourdain charged that by granting the permits to Northwestern, the City Council and the City of Evanston were complicit in acts of racial discrimination and segregation, says the Report. City Council, however, continued to approve Northwestern’s applications for building permits, with Ald. Jourdain voting “nay.” (Report 52-54)

As Chairman of the City’s Building Committee, Ald. Jourdain also sought to obtain the opinion of the National Housing Agency (NHA) on the legality of Northwestern’s policy of segregation. (Report, p. 52)

 The NHA responded that it would “not issue priorities to Northwestern University for housing that bar Negro veterans.” In commenting on an idea of building a separate dormitory for Black veterans only, the NHA wrote: “[T]his agency could not subject itself to charges that it supports occupancy patterns that will unfortunately result in racially unequal housing accommodations. It is difficult to contemplate a racially separate dormitory, open only to a relatively small Negro veterans group as an equal housing accommodation, in view of the nature of an educational institution, and the facilities which must be inaccessible to its students.”(Report, pp. 53-54)

After being informed of NHA’s policy, Northwestern’s then President said that the NHA’s policy would have no impact on Northwestern’s planned, segregated construction projects. “It is not in my power to commit the University on the question of housing Negro veterans,” he said, “The University recommends that they stay with Negro families in Evanston and not on the campus.” This policy was, he explained, “determined by the board of trustees and the public sentiment of the community. There is no indication that it will change.” (Report, pp. 53-54.


The City’s Veterans’ Housing Allotment

After World War II, the National Housing Agency of the Federal Public Housing Authority built 37 quonset huts along the North Shore Channel between Bridge Street and Green Bay Road in Evanston. All 37 were identical, each containing three units for three different families.

Only white veterans and their families lived in the 33 huts (99 units) along the north side of the canal. Only black veterans and their families lived in the 4 huts (12 units) on the south side of the canal. Black people were assigned units proportionate to their population in Evanston.

The land on which the huts were built was leased by the City from the Sanitary Canal District. The City signed a contract permitting the huts to be built and remain on the canal land for two years, and the City agreed to remove the huts when the two years were up.  At some point the City collected rent for use of the units in the huts.

The Report says the housing units were managed by an Evanston City official, the Veterans Housing Supervisor, a position created in 1946 by the Evanston City Council. (Report, p. 54)

At a City Council meeting on Sept. 30, 1946, Ald. Jourdain opposed the segregation. He said, “War veterans are bringing me reports that the job of assigning GI housing units along the canal is not being fairly approached. That the yardstick is not simply need, but color. Only one rule should be used in allocating these veterans’ homes; the rule of the greatest need. But veterans say this is not the practice. They are telling me that Evanston boys back from battlefields are being told that only four houses are open to them if they are colored. This is being done not in Mississippi, but in Evanston.” (Report, pp. 54-55)

Ald. Jourdain continued, “Evanston knows Negroes have the acutest housing shortages, worst housing conditions, because Evanston made it that way. Some Evanstonians have seen to it that year by year.

“Families of Negro GIs have been pushed back, crowded back, into a tight ghetto area where housing was not equal, where living could not be free,” he said.  And living in a ghetto hurts just as much in Evanston as it hurts in Mississippi, or in Hitler’s Germany . . . A GI with 39 months overseas, with battle stars from Tunisia, Africa campaigns, says that he applied [for Evanston’s veteran housing] last August, and was told . . . that only 12 colored families would be taken care of.” (Report, p. 55

Ald. Jourdain told City Council about other Black veterans who had served in Africa, Guam and in Southern France and Germany and who had great need of housing for their families.

He said that because the Veterans Housing Supervisor was appointed by the Evanston City Council, the Council must instruct him to end segregation and discrimination.   (Report, pp. 55-56)

On Oct. 7, 1946, the Mayor’s Special Committee on Housing issued a report, denying that the Veterans’ Housing Supervisor engaged in any discrimination. (Report, p. 56) Yet, the 99 units on the north side of the canal were all occupied by White veterans and their families, and the 12 on the south side were occupied by Black veterans and their families.

At the City Council meeting on Oct. 14, 1946, Ald. Jourdain presented a letter from the Federal Public Housing Authority (FPHA), which stated that the FPHA did not specifically request that the units be segregated.  (Report, p. 56

Ald. Jourdain concluded, “It is now squarely up to this City Council to withdraw this Jim Crow arrangement, drop the color line and make need the sole measure of who gets housing. The law of the land is against your segregation policy . . . The law of decency is against it.” (Report, p. 56-57)


Fair Housing Ordinance

More than 20 years later, in October 1967, the Evanston City Council finally passed an ordinance providing a penalty for real estate agents found practicing discrimination. The ordinance created a City-issued license for real estate brokers that could be revoked if they were found to be practicing discrimination in the rental, sale and advertising of housing. (Report, p. 49

The ordinance was largely seen as ineffective, since it did not address the larger issues related to housing discrimination, said the Report. (Report, p. 49)

It was not until after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April 1968, that the federal government signed into law the federal Fair Housing Act which prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, and national origin. In Evanston, the City Council still refused to pass a fair housing law.  (Report, p. 49)

After students and hundreds of Evanston residents took part in marches, and after leaders of the fair housing movement threatened an economic boycott in Evanston, City Council passed a fair housing ordinance. Despite the passage of the ordinance, some discriminatory practices continued, says the Report, p. 49.

Footnotes and Maps

[1] In 1940, the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC), an arm of the Federal Loan Bank Board, prepared a map showing the risk of making mortgage loans in different neighborhoods in Evanston. A portion of HOLC’s Evanston map is shown below.

According to HOLC: “A” areas – shaded green – were deemed “homogeneous” and in demand as residential areas; “B” areas – shaded blue – were “still desirable;” “C” areas – shaded yellow – were characterized as old and at risk of an “infiltration of a lower grade of population;” and “D” – shaded red – were said to have detrimental influences and an “undesirable population or an infiltration of it.”

Most of the area in Zoning District A in Evanston’s 1921 Use Map was shaded green or blue in HOLC’s 1940 risk rating map.

Most of the area in Zoning District B in Evanston’s Zoning Use Map was shaded red or yellow by HOLC in its 1940 risk rating map.

 [2]   In the era 1920 – 1940, most Black people in Evanston were low-income. In that period, 25% to 40% of Black households rented rooms in their homes to make ends meet. By 1930, 40% lived in two-family homes. By 1940, Black Evanstonians were almost as likely to own their own homes as middle class and white elites. Andrew Wiese (1999).

 [3]  Census tract 19, the core of the segregated Black area in 1940, was still 94.3% black in 1960, but due to the total growth in the Black population, it contained only 63% of the Black population in Evanston, down from 84% in 1940.

The increases in the black population took place primarily in the census tracts located south of Church Street and west of Asbury Avenue. By 1960, census tracts 23, 25 and 22 were 43.5%, 15.8% and 7.2% black, respectively.

In 1960, 85% of the black population lived in census tracts 19, 23, 25 and 22.







Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...