Tag Archives: historical

Baltimore’s linear neighborhoods in 1880

Baltimore Neighborhoods 1880I’ve been working for several years on a project that involves geocoding all the residents of several cities in 1880. Here is a historical puzzle. In the attached map of a portion of Baltimore, individual buildings have been coded as predominantly white or black. Almost always “predominantly” means all the residents are the same race.

I am used to thinking of neighborhoods as some sort of polygon, extending from a central core along the streets in every direction. In this case we see evidence of linear neighborhoods, where the “neighborhood” is defined solely by racial composition. Three north-south streets are nearly all black for many blocks (Dallas, Bethel, Durham),. The parallel streets are nearly all white.

First question: where have you seen this linear pattern before? I have not.
Second question: what is the source of this pattern on these particular streets? There must be some specific history to it.

I’ve made the red dots smaller on this map so that the black resiential pattern stands out more clearly. This section of the city was majority white.