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How malls and freeways helped segregate America | CBC Radio

How malls and freeways helped segregate America | CBC Radio

How malls and freeways helped segregate America | CBC Radio
Jun 26, 2022 1 min, 29 secs

Susaneck says a few factors contributed to the architectural segregation he studies.

Susaneck says the United States government helped accelerate this process with two particular bills: the 1949 Federal Housing Act, legislation that aimed to improve housing and help cities clear areas then defined as slums, and the 1956 Federal Highway Act that provided 90 per cent funding for cities looking to upgrade their highways to federal standards. .

American soldiers returning from the Second World War were also given housing in the suburbs, and though that same offer was extended to Black G.I.s., they weren't able to claim it. .

He says all of this contributed to "white flight" from urban areas. .

"There's a lot of incentives for the white middle class to move out to the suburbs and to drive.

The creation of the mall also contributed to that move to the suburbs, and by extension, to inequality. 

Edina is a suburb of Minneapolis, and many malls that followed were built in the suburbs as well

"A lot of the early suburbs were either implicitly or explicitly only open to white families

So all of the people living around the mall would have been white families," said Alexandra Lange, a design critic in Brooklyn and the author of Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall. 

Lange said the design itself also contributed to segregation in that many malls were created only for people who owned cars. 

"The first stage in the process is really understanding the place, the [context] of the place," he said. 

According to Bailey, it also improves the design process and promotes creativity. He says the way architecture is done now doesn't need to be completely tossed out, but rather modified. 


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