Saturday, April 16, 2011

Zoning's Racist History

Rutgers U:

[In the early 1900's,] cities like Baltimore, Louisville and other places in the south created land use regulations to keep African-Americans isolated and away from White people.

In Louisville, Kentucky, where the Buchanan v. Warley story starts, the city created an ordinance that prevented African-Americans from moving into neighborhoods that were majority White, and vice-versa.  The reason for this ordinance, Louisville's representatives told the Court, was to prevent the kinds of "civil disturbance" that would arise if White and Black residents were allowed to live in the same neighborhoods.

(Notice the reliance on 'protecting order' -- which is the basis for a lot of zoning regulations then and now.)

[...][A]ccording to historian Christopher Silver in The Racial Origins of Zoning in American Cities, "After 1917, cities preferred to engage professional planners to prepare racial zoning plans and to marshal the entire planning process to create the completely separate Black community."  He adds that when regulations couldn't enforce segregation, "data supplied by planners made it possible to monitor and influence land use trends based on social criteria."  Pioneering planners such as Robert Whitten, Harland Bartholomew, and Morris Knowles (who prepared the groundbreaking historic preservation plan for Charleston, South Carolina)  all created plans for their clients that promoted and enforced apartheid, Silver says. Some of these planners defended their actions by arguing that keeping races in separate areas of a city would help everyone because single-race neighborhoods provided social stability.

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