Interstate Highways and Segregation in Hartford
created by Rain Fox-Halperin, Zaray Dewan, Evan Rosenberg
The current map version of the map acts as an excellent baseline, providing a historical narrative while providing a wealth of opportunities for continued work. Immediately building upon our visualization of how the highway affects the demographics of the city would be a deeper historical dive into how these divisions formed, from segregated public housing projects to disaster vulnerability, with an increased level of analysis of historical demographic data that would allow researchers to visualize neighborhood changes throughout the 20th century, rather than just the aftermath of these policies and events. An analysis of the economic inequality created by these policies would serve to emphasize the urgency of this issue. In addition to working with community partners, incorporating a community perspective into the map would serve to balance a historical record that has excluded the voices of the residents of Hartford. Rather than simply mapping a lack of access to care, a community-based approach could allow for greater visibility of health issues that could be caused by the highway, as the unseen effects of the highways unrelated to city planning and transportation is important in understandings the consequences of the inequalities of the past in the present day. Overall, the map visualizes some of the important aspects of inequality in Hartford, but one that can be added to and improved upon in service of a community partnership.
As the more recent history of segregation in the United States is less talked about in public schools and spaces than out-in-the-open, Jim Crow era racism, mapping and educating communities on the effects of more recent racist legislation can help people to better understand how their communities became the way they are, and how they can change their communities’ future. More than a simplification of physical space, a map can help a community member to place themselves into the larger context of past and ongoing racism in the United States. Without a map, a guide to the now, it becomes near impossible to look to the future. We hope that our map will inspire others to think more deeply about the physicality of the urban spaces that they inhabit, and the people and ideas that built them. While we cannot negate the impact of decisions made by racially biased city planners on our cities today, we can look forward, and attempt to make far-reaching, minimally prejudiced decisions that can help to build a less divided world for our descendants. For potential community partners, we could seek partnerships with various nonprofits operating in the Hartford area. Hartford 400, powered by iQuilt, is a nonprofit dedicated to making Hartford a more sustainable and equitable place to live. In addition to adding more green space, the organization seeks to expand the quantity of affordable housing in downtown Hartford. As discussed in our project, the North End, which has been effectively cut off from the downtown due to the I-84 interchange, is a predominantly black neighborhood. Black families have continually struggled to find affordable housing in neighborhoods near the downtown center, because there simply are not enough of them. With the help from its stakeholders, Hartford 400 seeks to increase the number of rental apartments and condominiums in the urban and town centers, which creates housing equity in an otherwise segregated city. The Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) is also a potential collaborative partner. Frequently hosting talks from prominent scholars of African-American history, the Connecticut Historical Society could prove to be a valuable resource that could help us better contextualize our project. For example, one talk from historian Barbara Beeching focused on the origins and daily life of African Americans in Hartford, drawing from the CHS’s collection of letters of young African Americans living in Hartford in the nineteenth century. The Hartford Chapter of the NAACP is also another potential collaborator. The chapter, currently led by Corrie Betts, aims to dismantle racial inequities in employment, housing, and education.
- Community HealthCare Centers. Data.gov, data.hartford.gov. 2021. catalog.data.gov/dataset/tiger-line-shapefile-2019-county-hartford-county-ct-all-roads-county-based-shapefile.
- Robert Moses. Arterial Plan for Hartford. Andrews & Clark. 1949. http://i84hartford.com/documents/historical_studies/Arterial%20Plan%20for%20Hartford,%20Robert%20Moses%201949.pdf
- Steven Manson, Jonathan Schroeder, David Van Riper, Tracy Kugler, and Steven Ruggles. IPUMS National Historical Geographic Information System: Version 17.0 [dataset]. Minneapolis, MN: IPUMS. 2022. http://doi.org/10.18128/D050.V17.0
- Tiger/Line Shapefile, 2019, County, Hartford County, CT, All Roads County-Based Shapefile. Data.gov. 2021. catalog.data.gov/dataset/tiger-line-shapefile-2019-county-hartford-county-ct-all-roads-county-based-shapefile.