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Legacies of the Residential Security Maps: measuring the persistent effects of redlining in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Rutan, Devin Q. (2016) Legacies of the Residential Security Maps: measuring the persistent effects of redlining in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In the late 1930’s, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, under the direction of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, constructed Residential Security Maps that graded the housing markets of over 200 cities according to a variety of criteria, including some based in harsh racial, ethnic, and class prejudice. Explanations for urban development have progressed over the course of the twentieth century to reflect not only changing urban conditions but changing ideology and, simultaneously, have the capacity to create the conditions that they describe. Burgess’s ecological model was influential in the 1930’s and shaped real estate officials’ and policy makers’ notions of neighborhood quality and risk. Policymakers’ approach to measuring risk with Residential Security Maps has generated much debate. Critiques to Jackson’s traditional argument, that the physical maps were used by lenders to redline urban areas, have challenged the feasibility of his theory. Using primary government documents from the National Archives and various publications, I argue that the FHLBB was an influential voice in the development of neighborhood appraisal practices and in the normalization and legitimatization of racialized assessments of lending risk. Also, because of the conceptualization of real estate practices, the development of similar lending maps, and the sensitivity of the HOLC to local influences and conditions, the Residential Security Maps are an appropriate way to assess urban real estate practices in the 1930’s. I ground the discussion of neighborhood risk onto Pittsburgh’s stratified and segregated geography of the 1930’s. I developed a GIS-based framework to assess the impact of neighborhood appraisal practices on the social geography of Pittsburgh. I find that neighborhood appraisal had lasting and persistent impacts on the social geography of Pittsburgh as more positive conditions were concentrated in green and blue areas and more negative conditions were concentrated in red and yellow areas. I discuss the implications of these findings for urban housing, the complicity debate, neighborhood development policy, and the prospects for neighborhood equality.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Rutan, Devin Q.dqr1@pitt.edudqr1
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorGlass,
Committee MemberDuck,
Committee MemberWalsh,
Committee MemberCrossney,
Date: 14 December 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 December 2016
Approval Date: 14 December 2016
Submission Date: 6 December 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 140
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Urban Studies
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Residential Security Maps Redlining Mortgage Lending Discrimination Housing GIS HOLC FHLBB FHA Census Racism Development Inequality
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2016 16:39
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2016 06:15


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