In 1928, the sociologist Louis Wirth (1897–1952) published his dissertation titled “The Ghetto.” The book, an immediate success, was in print until the late 1960s and was widely used in courses in urban sociology. In the concise and well-­written study, Wirth compared the early modern Jewish ghetto in the German city Frankfurt am Main with the Jewish immigrant neighborhood in Chicago known as “ghetto.” Wirth tried to assess whether the legacy of forced Jewish segregation in early modern Italy and Central Europe influenced the clustering of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe in run-down inner-city neighborhoods in the United States and Western Europe at the end of the nineteenth century. Chicago’s Jewish “ghetto” developed during the 1880s in the wake of the mass immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe. Already in the 1870s, similar Jewish immigrant neighborhoods emerged in New York and London. By 1910, the “New York Ghetto” on the Lower East Side was one of the most densely settled urban areas in the United States and home to over 350,000 Jews. The public perception of these neighborhoods as “ghettos” was influenced in no small part by the works of Jewish authors. In his 1892 novel Children of the Ghetto, the respected Anglo-Jewish writer Israel Zangwill popularized the name for the area settled by Jewish immigrants in London’s East End. Four years later, journalist Abraham Cahan published Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto, a collection of short stories about Jewish immigrants in New York. Both Zangwill and Cahan aimed at a general readership, trying to raise sympathies for Jewish immigrants. Opponents of immigration exploiting widespread anti-Semitic stereotypes pointed to the immigrant ghettos as proof that Jewish immigrants were inassimilable. In an 1896 article on “Chicago’s Ghetto,” a local reporter depicted Jewish immigrants as “unique people [living] in our midst, and yet no more of us than are the people of the South Sea islands.” The general and Jewish public in the United States and in Western Europe widely associated Jewish immigrant neighborhoods with the early modern ghettos for Jews. As Zangwill put 190it: “People who have been living in a ghetto for a couple of centuries are not able to step outside merely because the gates are thrown down … The isolation from without will have come to seem the law of their being.” Wirth quoted this passage to emphasize that the ghetto continued to “linger[s]” in the “Jewish mind” long after it had been dissolved. 1