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Scott Beyer

Scott Beyer

July 6, 2020

Urban Renewal's Shameful Legacy: Destruction of Black Communities

Many of America’s black urban neighborhoods are trouble spots, marked by crime, poverty and blight. Can this be blamed on failure within these communities to properly maintain their own spaces? Perhaps somewhat. But most of the blame lies elsewhere: many of these neighborhoods once thrived before city and state governments, using federal money, destroyed them.

In the decades before and after World War II, government bureaucracies across the U.S. imposed “urban renewal.” Also known as “slum clearance”, these policies worked from the Modernist notion that urban neighborhoods were dangerous and antiquated, and that automobile-centric design represented the brave new technological future. Old neighborhoods were thus demolished, replaced with highways, public housing, and top-down economic developments.

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