A City, Segregated By Design
Featuring Adam Paul Susaneck of the popular social account, “Segregation By Design”
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Generously Sponsored by:
Roger and Maryanne Tackeff and Renaissance Properties
About Segregation By Design:
Using historic aerial photography, Segregation By Design documents the destruction of communities of color due to red-lining, “urban renewal,” and freeway construction. Through a series of stark aerial before-and-after comparisons, figure-ground diagrams, and demographic data, Segregation By Design will reveal the extent to which the American city was methodically hollowed out based on race. The project will cover roughly 180 municipalities, including Boston, which received federal funding from the 1956 Federal Highway Act and created the interstate highway system as we know it today.
Boston by no means escaped the racist practices of redlining and deed restrictions. In fact, a deed restriction in nearby Brookline was written as early as 1855 by Amos A. Lawrence to Ivory Bean that forbade the future sale of the property to “…any negro or negroes nor any native or native of Ireland.”
Using urban renewal and freeway construction, the gov’t wiped out entire neighborhoods on a scale previously only seen in either natural disasters or war. The historic West End—one of those neighborhoods where the hope of America’s “melting pot” perhaps came the closest to fruition as it ever would—was entirely razed; its dense, winding streets replaced with parking lots for suburban commuters. This melting pot was called “blighted” by politicians, while residents, such as Leonard Nimoy, spoke fondly of their time in the old West End.
Other Boston neighborhoods were demolished in name of urban renewal including Scollay Square, the New York Streets, and Nubian Square. Redlining and blockbusting spread through Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury.
Since the creation of the Interstate, freeway planning has been an integral tool in the systematic, government-led segregation of American cities. Used not only as a direct means to destroy the communities in their paths, freeways have also been used to cement racial segregation and ensure its endurance. Working synergistically with the legacy of redlining, freeway planning became the ultimate enforcement mechanism: literal walls of concrete and smog that separated Black communities from white. In the name of the thinly veiled racist policies of “urban renewal,” the freeways took the red lines off the map and built them into the physical world.
About Adam Paul Susaneck:
Adam Paul Susaneck recently received his Masters of Architecture from the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. His work focuses on addressing historic inequity and ongoing climate issues through urban planning, architecture, and transportation infrastructure. In his professional work, he has been involved in the retrofitting and upgrading of New York City Subway and commuter rail stations for ADA accessibility. His work has been featured in San Francisco’s Exploratorium, the Oakland Museum of California, the Queens Museum, as well as in the popular urbanist news site, Streetsblog. Hailing from West Palm Beach, FL, originally, Adam received his B.A. in political science at UC Berkeley.
- The Color Of Law: A Forgotten History Of How Our Government Segregated America By Richard Rothstein
- People Before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, And A New Movement For City Making By Karilyn Crockett
- Urban Exodus: Why the Jews Left Boston and the Catholics Stayed By Gerald Gamm
- Streetcar Suburbs: The Process of Growth in Boston, 1870-1900 By Sam B. Warner