Saturday, October 28, 2017

Mapping Segregation in America


The University of Iowa’s Placing Segregation project is using historical records to map how U.S. cities in the Nineteenth Century were racially, economically and socially segregated.

The Placing Segregation project uses historical census records to map individuals to their place of residence. These historical places of residence can then be filtered by the user by ethnicity, wealth and social class. So, for example, on the project's 1860 map of Washington D.C. you can select the 'People of Color' option to view where most non-white residents lived in the city in 1860.

You can also select the markers for individuals on the map to view more detailed information about the city's residents. Clicking a marker opens a window with the individual's name, race, gender, occupation, age and the wealth of the family estate. So far the project has mapped historical census records for Washington, Nashville and Omaha.


The Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) was a government-sponsored corporation created as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. Its purpose was to refinance home mortgages which were in default to prevent foreclosure.

The HOLC is often cited as starting the practice of mortgage redlining. Redlining is the process of denying services to residents of certain areas based on the racial composition of those areas. Mapping Inequality, Redlining in New Deal America allows you to view the residential security maps created by the Home Owners' Loan Corporation to indicate the level of security for real-estate investments.

The areas marked in blue on the maps are the neighborhoods which were deemed desirable for lending purposes. The yellow areas show neighborhoods deemed 'declining' areas. The red areas are the neighborhoods considered the most risky for mortgage support.

The result of these redlining maps was that residents in the more affluent and largely white neighborhoods were far more likely to receive financing. Residents in the poorer and black communities were deemed more of a risk and so less likely to receive financial support.
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