Redlining in DSM

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Redline Maps

Click through to see the redline maps from across the State of Iowa. 

Map Legend

A

Best

lowest risk

best property values

white population

B

Good

low risk

buffer zones

white population

C

Declining

high risk

decreased investment

mixed population

D

Hazardous

highest risk

no investment

mixed population

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Area Descriptions

 These documents included surveys, paragraphs, and other written statements that laid out in detail exactly why each neighborhood got the color it received. Lenders, bankers, and real estate agents completed surveys for their personal organizations looking at where loans were being granted across the city. These surveys were then used to help form the maps and the more detailed area descriptions. Within these descriptions, language such as “infiltration of hazardous populations” or “invasion of hazardous groups” was used to describe the desire for separation based on race, and were often found in the paragraphs referring to yellow and red neighborhoods.

The surveys for the city [of Des Moines] were even more specific, explicitly stating that most people wanted to keep “the infiltration of the colored population” in check, that “it might be possible to confine [those] negro families to more definite areas if low-cost housing was constructed.” Additionally, they believe that it could “help decrease the adverse effect that minority groups have” to limit such infiltration in green and blue areas.

Chautaqua Park

The Chautauqua Park neighborhood is an island of green in a sea of red and yellow on the Redlining Map of Des Moines. This neighborhood was given a green rating because it had a racially restrictive covenant barring blacks or Jews from owning property. 

In 1944, the Chautauqua Park Improvement League worked hard to bar Archie Alexander, a wealthy black engineer, and his family from buying a home in the neighborhood. While the group was unsuccessful, some residents did not approve of Archie and his family moving in, so they decided to leave.

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Legacy of the Maps