Jeff Chang sets the stage for hip hop’s origins in the late 1970s, the Bronx.


Once you have finished this assignment, you should be able to

  • Discuss the creation, purpose, and effects of the Cross-Bronx Expressway (CBE)
  • Explain the meaning and effects of the Nixon administration’s policy of “benign neglect”
  • Discuss The Fire Next Door as an example of public discourse
  • Explain the purpose and meaning of the baseball stories in Chang’s article
  • Summarize the meaning of Chang’s final sentence


  • Chang, “Necropolis: The Bronx and the Politics of Abandonment”
    (available in the GA View Content panel)

Reading Guide

Page 7
Google defines a necropolis as “a cemetery, especially a large one belonging to an ancient city.” In the late 1970s, who viewed the Bronx as a necropolis? Who didn’t?
Pages 7-10
Chang opens the piece with an extended anecdote about the 1977 World Series, played by the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He contrasts Reggie Jackson’s experience as a Yankee with the experiences of Jackie Robinson, who became the first African American to play in the major leagues when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Both men dealt with racism, and Chang stresses their very different responses. He presents Jackson as the herald of a new kind of man, one predicted by Malcolm X in an earlier exchange with Robinson (9).
Page 14
“Benign neglect” was a conscious policy pursued by local and federal government officials. The idea was to starve neighborhoods judged to be beyond redemption, in the hopes that their residents would finally leave. Chang quotes Robert Moses: “You must concede that this Bronx slum and others in Brooklyn and Manhattan are unreparable….They must be leveled to the ground” (18).
Page 15
Chang locates 1977 at the “bottom point of the loop between Malcolm X’s assassination and Public Enemy’s call to arms.” This framing links Hip Hop directly to the Black Power movements of the 1960s and 1970s.
Page 16
Chang cites the CBS report The Fire Next Door as an example of public discourse about the Bronx. Watch the first five minutes of the episode to get a sense of its tone and framing.
Page 17
What does the article’s final line mean? How does it related to the “politics of abandonment” referenced in the article’s subtitle?


  • Necropolis
    (All quizzes are in GA View.)