Divided Landscape: The Visual Culture of Urban Segregation
- Landscape Journal: design, planning, and management of the land
- University of Wisconsin Press
- Volume 35, Number 1, 2016
- pp. 109-125
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Segregation remains a feature of life in American cities, despite legislative efforts to end discrimination in housing. The political and economic causes of segregation have been the topic of rigorous scholarship, but segregation is embedded in urban space, as well as in socioeconomic and political systems. This paper discusses the spatial production of segregation in Baltimore by identifying the markers of division that are produced by formal and informal urban design practices. It proposes that a visual culture of segregation reinforces racial division in the urban environment. Focusing specifically on urban form, land use, and iconography, the paper explores how symbols, signs, and ornamentation produced by public and private actors create informal borders that denote distinct racial places in the city. The principle findings are: that urban design elements can maintain and reinforce politically significant sociological divisions, and that visual culture is a significant place-maker in cities.