White Picket Fences
This chapter explores new formations of authority, citizenship, and care that emerged to deal with breakdown in the city’s property system. It analyzes competing views for how de facto public lands should be distributed and used. As the city struggled to manage all the property to which it held title, residents claimed land in various ways, from invoking historical loss and racial injustice to establishing gardens and community centers, mowing fields, and squatting in houses. Such caretaking of interstitial lands at the margins of the private property system illuminates a reworked vision of the urban commons and land ethic rooted in Black urban life and spatial politics. While often obscured in spatial imaginaries of the city as a blank slate, such insurgent forms of sociality underscore the tremendous capacity for self-organization that resides in communities and the role that reimagining property relations can play in countering the logics of planned abandonment.