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Old map reveals how housing discrimination happened in Philly

Even Rittenhouse Square was “definitely declining”

A slew of maps created in the 1930s have been released online, revealing how housing discrimination occurred throughout the nation, including Philadelphia, through a process called “redlining.”

As Curbed.com reports, Mapping Inequality recently released hundreds of these maps that were created by local, government-recruited mortgage lenders, developers, and real estate appraisers between 1935 and 1940. It was all part of the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC), a New Deal initiative established in 1933 to boost the housing market.

In Philadelphia and across the nation, local real estate experts defined neighborhoods comprising mostly of minorities as red and yellow—i.e. “Hazardous” and “Definitely Declining,” respectively. Based on this map, they considered everything south of Locust Street and north of Spring Garden street hazardous.

Meanwhile, neighborhoods like Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill, which were inhabited by mostly white, affluent residents, were considered the best or “still desirable.”

Curbed writes:

Living in an area with low HOLC ratings made it more difficult for minorities and poor whites to secure loans to buy a house. The effects of these designations are still being felt today—though some historians debate whether HOLC actually contributed to discrimination in housing or merely reflected what was already going on at the time.

Mapping Inequality will be releasing more information for each map soon, including the descriptions of various neighborhoods and areas in respective cities at the time.