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The Evolution of Urban Renewal


The Evolution of Urban Renewal

Project Team: Wenfei Xu, Fan Zhang

Histories of federal urban renewal interventions show a broad consensus regarding their destructive impact on predominantly minority and low-income neighborhoods, the reduction of the overall low-income housing supply, and its role in perpetuating racial segregation through the construction of public housing in mainly Black neighborhoods. While the legacy of slum clearance and urban renewal is one of social destruction, especially for the poor neighborhood conditions and low-income residents it was originally intended to help, it did slow the deterioration of retail in cities such as New Haven, helped cities such as New York, Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco and create civic centers and commercial and office spaces.

While urban renewal has been studied at length by historians and social scientists, there have been remarkably few quantitative, multi-city or national studies on the various impacts, mechanisms, and legacies of urban renewal, fewer yet that examine intra-city dynamics, and none that have examined urban renewal through its documented physical impacts on the urban fabric of cities. This project will create a new urban renewal dataset using aerial imagery from the DVRPC and computer vision techniques to predict some of the approximately 35% missing project data (by our estimation). We will then triangulate this with historical yearly records of project statuses from the HHFA and URA, and the DSL’s efforts to geo-reference available urban renewal project boundaries from archival material along with the Urban Renewal Administration’s.

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