"Racist" Twin Cities maps make point about interstate highways [IMAGES]

Categories: Racism
mpls1935mapfeat.jpg
:::: UPDATE :::: St. Paul map shows how I-94 cut through heart of city's African-American neighborhood [IMAGES]

The "super racist" Minneapolis map we wrote about last month is actually intended to make a point about America's interstate highway system, Geoff Maas, the cartographer who put it together, tells us.

By overlaying maps created in 1935 by sociologist Dr. Calvin Schmid for a study entitled, "Saga of Two Cities: An Ecological and Statistical Study of Social Trends in Minneapolis and St. Paul," with more recent maps of the interstate highway system, Maas aimed to show how interstates were built to bisect some of Minneapolis and St. Paul's poorest neighborhoods.

See also:
Judgmental Mpls neighborhood map might offend you, will probably make you laugh [IMAGE]

Here's Schmid's original map:

MPLS1935_Original.jpg
All images via Geoff Maas -- click to enlarge

Here's Schmid's map of Minneapolis's "Vice Areas":

MplsViceAreasMap.jpg

And finally, here's Maas's overlay:

MinneapolisMap_1935HighRes.jpg

"Past policies (pre-Civil Rights era) enabled poorer or economically disadvantaged communities to be targeted more easily for large projects like highways," Maas wrote to us in an email. The map is "a way to highlight the wrongs of our past and to ensure that these kinds of public policies and actions do not occur again... [it's] a stern reminder of how our nation used to operate. We sometimes need to see, visualize and fully understand our difficult past in order to move beyond it."

Maas, a mapmaker and urban planner, put together his Minneapolis map for the Harrison Neighborhood Association. He says he volunteered to do the work because he "did not believe that profit should be sought from this project for moral or ethical reasons."

He recently put together the same sort of map for St. Paul, which we'll publish on Blotter tomorrow. (Update -- see the St. Paul version here.)

With regard to Schmid's original map, Maas says, "It wasn't a policy to say, 'We're going to force people to live in this area,' but people with money tend to live near the river and lakes."

See also:
Mpls air pollution affects blacks more than whites, U of M study finds


"People with less money and minorities seem marginalized in areas near railroads and industrial areas," Maas continues during a followup interview. "I laid modern road networks over [Schmid's map] to show that it was kinda a policy to go through the path of least resistance. It was easier to put the highway through minority neighborhoods of 'Working Men's Homes.'"

But Maas says projects like Green Line LRT -- which also cuts through a neighborhood largely populated by lower- and middle-income folks -- are a "different animal" than interstate highways.

"Light rail brings in stops and interesting mixed-use development if it's done right," Maas says. "It brings in a swirl of activity."

We asked Maas what he regards as the biggest takeaway from his work.

(For more, click to page two.)



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