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“Narrow and Filthy Alleys of the City”?: The Residential Settlement Patterns of Black Southern Migrants to the North


Tolnay, Stewart E.; Crowder, Kyle D; .; & Adelman, Robert M. (2000). "Narrow and Filthy Alleys of the City"?: The Residential Settlement Patterns of Black Southern Migrants to the North. Social Forces, 78(3), 989-1016.


Considerable effort has been devoted to understanding the social, economic, and cultural forces that produced the Great Migration and to describing the success of southern African American migrants upon their arrival in the North. In contrast, relatively little research has examined the settlement patterns of southern migrants. This article uses the 1970 Neighborhood Characteristics Public Use Microdata Sample to determine whether migrants were more likely than northern-born blacks to reside in neighborhoods that (1) were more highly segregated, (2) had more families living in poverty and (3) were characterized by higher levels of family instability. The results reveal that, on average, recent migrants from the South resided in the "best" neighborhoods, that past migrants were located in the "worst" neighborhoods, and that northern-born blacks fell between the two migrant groups. Recent migrants also received the greatest locational returns to human capital characteristics such as education and employment.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Social Forces


Tolnay, Stewart E.
Crowder, Kyle D
Adelman, Robert M.