This chapter provides an introduction to the Riverwest neighborhood. It situates Riverwest in Milwaukee, a city that is highly segregated by race and class and characterized by deeply entrenched social divisions. It reviews the history of Riverwest and describes how, by the early 1980s, the community became home to substantial black, white and Latino (largely Puerto Rican) populations. The chapter illustrates how Riverwest’s ongoing struggle to manage the countervailing pressures of gentrification and crime and decline is expressed in its geographic location as a buffer neighborhood. Finally, the chapter identifies the face block—the two sides of one street between intersecting streets—as central to local social organization and a key site for difference negotiation.
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