What caused America's inner cities to decline in the 1950s?

Asked on by lkehoe

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There was one main reason why the inner cities declined.  This was the rise of the suburbs.  As the suburbs arose, the cities declined.

Before World War II, there were few suburbs and everyone lived in the cities.  The cities, therefore, were composed of people who were rich, middle-class, and poor.  They were also composed, in many places, of African Americans and whites.  The cities, then, were rather prosperous.

After World War II, this started to change.  For various reasons, suburbs started to boom.  However, the people who moved to the suburbs were typically middle-class or better and were typically white.  Only people who had enough money could afford to buy the houses.  Companies typically only lent money to white people to buy the homes. 

What this meant was that the cities were left as the home to non-whites and poor people.  This was very bad for the cities.  As more white middle-class people left the cities, the cities declined more and more. 

Thus, the rise of the suburbs took away prosperous people from the cities.  This is what led to the decline of the cities.

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