The Frances Cabrini row houses on the near north side Credit: David Schalliol

The Reader’s archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we’ll dig through and bring up some finds.

I was going to write about the @MayorEmanuel Twitter feed, which ended its glorious run almost exactly seven years ago this past weekend with the fictional Rahm getting sucked into a time vortex.

And Twitter fell into deep mourning.

But although @MayorEmanuel was the work of Dan Sinker, a Reader alum, no one knew it at the time, and the Reader itself didn’t have much to say about that great work of Twitter fiction until about a week afterward, after Sinker was unmasked, and then about six months later when it was released as a book.

Then I realized that one of the biggest lessons of the past seven years is that Twitter is mostly a distraction from the bigger issues at hand. (This lesson comes courtesy of our current president.) So while @MayorEmanuel was delighting Chicagoans with his adventures around the city with his faithful companions Quaxelrod the duck, Hambone the dog, and Carl the Intern, Rahm Emanuel was conducting a real-life mayoral campaign that ignored one of the biggest issue facing our city: segregation.

Steve Bogira, who has devoted years to reporting on inequality and segregation, published a sobering report on the state of our city. He wrote:

Chicago’s ghettos in the 1960s were notorious for their shootings, robberies, rapes, fires, joblessness, single-parent families, dreadful schools and high dropout rates, rampant alcoholism and heroin addiction, abandoned buildings and vacant lots.

Lucky we fixed all that.

We must have fixed it—otherwise why isn’t racial segregation an issue in the mayor’s race?

Try finding a mention of it on the websites of any of the candidates. Editorial boards have decreed Chicago’s most important concern to be its budget problems. Other issues winning attention have been school and ethics reform, job creation, the head tax, crime, transportation, privatization, the O’Hare airport expansion.

The city’s finances are indeed a mess. But financial troubles come and go for Chicago. Segregation endures.

Bogira crunched the numbers, taken from census data, and discovered that Chicago was almost as segregated in 2011 as it had been 40 years earlier.

The neighborhood areas colored green have the highest concentration of African-Americans, while those that are blue have the lowest.
The neighborhood areas colored green have the highest concentration of African-Americans, while those that are blue have the lowest.Credit: Paul John Higgins

So why wasn’t anyone running for mayor talking about it? Bogira looked back on the root causes of segregation and explained why it’s harmful.

But perhaps the greatest evil of racial segregation is how it concentrates the poverty of blacks, as Massey and others have shown. Because of historical—and some continuing—discrimination, blacks are more likely to be poor. When this is combined with segregation, it means blacks are far more likely than any other group to live in concentrated poverty. It’s hard to be poor; it’s much harder to be poor and surrounded by poverty and all the harmful cultural norms and behavior, such as crime, that accompany it. It’s a kind of poverty whites rarely experience, and one tough to escape.

Then he asked the mayoral candidates (including Rahm) what they planned to do to fix it. Read it and see how much has changed.