Julian H. Levi (Ph.B.'29, J.D.'31), whose creativity and dynamism as a leading expert on stabilizing racially changing neighborhoods shaped many of the nation's urban policies and saved the Hyde Park area around the University of Chicago from urban decay, died Oct. 16 at his home in San Francisco. He was 87.
"Julian was one of the most dynamic, committed individuals my father came to know and trust. And so did I, " said Mayor Richard M. Daley, son of the former mayor who worked closely with Levi. "He had nothing to gain from what he did for the city and the university. He did it because it was good and because he could make it work."
In 1952, with the nation's cities in turmoil and their decay becoming recognized, Levi was appointed Executive Director of the newly created South East Chicago Commission to plan and implement the urban renewal of Hyde Park. Levi oversaw the renewal program for Hyde Park-Kenwood, developed amendments to the federal Housing Act to assist cities and devised state legislation that enabled residents living adjacent to blighted buildings to take the landlords to court to seek code compliance or demolition.
The SECC began as a voluntary organization of citizens dedicated to the development and improvement of local law enforcement. Under Levi's leadership, it planned and implemented with the city the first urban renewal project in the nation sought by a local community.
During the time he worked on the Hyde Park project, Levi was named assistant to then-University Chancellor Lawrence Kimpton. In 1963, while retaining his leadership of the revitalization of the area, Levi was appointed Professor of Urban Studies in the Law School. He left Chicago in 1980 to join Hastings College of Law at the University of California-San Francisco, where he was an active member of the faculty at the time of his death.
A Hyde Park native, Levi spent 15 years in private law practice after receiving his J.D. from the University. He then joined the Reynolds Printasign company, first as vice-president and later as president. He was chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission from1974 until shortly before he left Chicago.
He is the brother of President Emeritus Edward Levi, the Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the College. In addition to Edward Levi, survivors include his wife, Majorie; his brother Harry of Highland Park, Ill.; a daughter, Kay Pick of Winnetka, Ill.; a son, William Levi of Kansas City, Mo.; and four grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, in Bond Chapel. Mayor Daley, Trustee Jay Pritzker and Arthur Brazier will speak.
Memorial contributions may be made to Leukemia Research, c/o Dr. Curt Ries, University of California-San Francisco, 400 Parnassus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94131; or to That Man May See, 8 Kirkham, Box 352, San Francisco, CA 94143.