1950s-60s

1950s–60s—African American people begin moving to Chicago’s West Side from the South Side. Real estate speculators exploit White homeowners’ fears of plummeting real estate values and buy homes at below-market-value prices. Black homebuyers are then subject to a “race tax” when properties are typically bought from White homeowners for $10,000 and resold a week later to a Black family for $25,000. The Federal Housing Administration’s refusal to lend to African American buyers means they cannot buy overpriced homes except on contract, meaning the title to a property bought will not be transferred to the buyer until all contract payments had been made. This process of “blockbusting” was a national phenomenon; but the practice of contract selling reached its peak in North Lawndale, where an estimated 3,000 buildings were sold on contract. This contributed to the neighborhood’s population changing from 87 percent White people in 1950 to 91 percent Black people in 1960.