Posted tagged ‘segregation’

Mapping Historic Segregation in Washington DC Resource Now Available

June 18, 2015

It is impossible to fully understand Washington’s neighborhoods without a good understanding of the housing segregation that once held sway here. It is a legacy that in many ways shaped the city, which in turn still has an impact today. This makes it all the more critical to understand this past.

Historians Sarah Shoenfeld and Mara Cherkasky have begun to document this history in maps. Their Mapping Segregation in Washington DC effort is a public history project documenting the historic segregation of DC’s housing, schools, playgrounds, and other public spaces. To date the project has focused on racially restrictive housing covenants. Racial covenants had a dramatic impact on the development of the nation’s capital decades before government-sanctioned redlining policies were implemented in cities across the country.

The interactive Website is now live, and free to explore here. Shoenfeld and Cherkasky’s work is far from finished, and only reflects information they’ve been able to gather so far.

Restricted Housing DC(Details showing Restrictive Covenants in the Park View area.)

Mapping Segregation Presentation Tomorrow at Park View Recreation Center at 6:30 pm

June 9, 2015

1952 Washington population map(Map from the 1950s showing changing demographics in Washington.)

How did restrictive housing covenants shape DC neighborhoods? Prologue DC historians Mara Cherkasky and Sarah Shoenfeld will present the latest findings in their ongoing research project, Mapping Segregation in Washington DC, on Wednesday, June 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Park View Recreation Center, 693 Otis Place NW, and Wednesday, June 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Public Library, 901 G Street NW. Both events are free and open to the public.

Mapping Segregation in Washington DC looks in depth at the historic segregation of DC’s housing, schools, recreation facilities, and more. The project’s first year has focused on racially restrictive housing covenants and legal challenges to them.

Maps are used to better understand how many of DC’s “historically black” neighborhoods were once exclusively white, and how the city’s racial geography has been shaped by segregation. Maps tell stories that words cannot.

Prologue DC’s research is comprehensive and unprecedented. Mara Cherkasky and Sarah Shoenfeld have been hand-searching real estate records at the DC Archives and reviewing digitized documents at the Recorder of Deeds. In addition, they’ve been incorporating information found in the Washingtoniana Room at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library, including real estate maps, city directories, newspapers, and the DC building-permit database. Census records and materials from the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. help fill out the picture.

This project is a collaboration between Prologue DC and GIS mapping expert Brian Kraft of JMT Technology Group. It is funded in part by the Humanities Council of Washington, DC.

Mapping Segregation is an ongoing project, so please check their Website for updates.

Or send an email to info(at) with “Mapping Segregation updates” in the subject line.

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