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During the 1900s, in the early days of our modern urban cities, they were prosperous. Businesses were reaping in huge profits.  Immigrants were able to work in factories and make livable wages to support their families. By the 1890s to mid-1920s, automobiles expanded from a few wealthy elites to over 25 million due to the rise in the average income.  As the cities were expanding to meet demands in new businesses and housing, urban cities became hot spots in the country.  However as cities’ populations grew, during the 1920s, many city residents chose to live in nearby surrounding areas since they have the economic power to do so. As these residents moved to the suburbs, there was also a suburbanization of economic activities; therefore, jobs that were once city jobs are now suburban jobs. This stripped our once highly dense moderately affluent communities in central cities of its affluence. The residents that were the main powerhouse for economic activity transitioned their economic power away from the central city to the suburbs.

Later during World War II, there were openings in the job and housing market in the cities. This triggered changes in the demographics because the Great Migration occurred, which is in reference to the millions of blacks journeying to the northern urban cities. According to the NPR article “Great Migration: The African-American Exodus North”, it discusses how this relocation process caused cities’ such as Detroit and Cleveland to see their black population grow by 40% and the number of African- American industrial workers double. This Migration was not a singular event, but in fact a spatial process in which the rural blacks of the south were now becoming an urbanized population in the North. Although blacks were freed from slavery, during the early 1900s due to certain factors, blacks had incentives to move to the northern cities. As more rural blacks heard about the opportunities for social mobility and improvements on the quality of their lives, they left their lives in the south, as a result, millions of other Blacks moved to the northern urban cities. The migration of these people became the largest internal migration of a population during peace times in history.  The demographics in the city, the workforce, and the consumer population all changed.  This created the black identity and association to urban central cities since older, larger cities have large black and now, minority populations, specifically seen in America’s 10 Most Segregated Cities. Also, below visually presents the racial divides among races in a city all too familiar known as New York City.

White: blue dots, African American: green dots, Asian: red, Latino: orange, All others: brown

White: blue dots, African American: green dots, Asian: red, Latino: orange,
All others: brown


A major tool to negatively impact the black population was the use of redlining, which was a common tactic by banks, governments, and businesses to stop any financial input into these communities. According to “Contemporary Urban Planning”, during the era of urban renewal it cleared the slums out of the cities and displaced populations. This process became to known as Negro removal since it were black communities that were blighted areas. It seems these areas became slums due to racial zoning, segregation, and redlining. Now these communities have more than the black populations, but also many other minority groups including poor immigrants. Although there has been a use of discriminatory tactics in planning in the United States history, what are we to do now? Are we as future planners need to incorporate a social justice thinking in our work? Can we make positive change for communities that are economically or politically disadvantaged? Or have our discriminatory practices been erased?