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The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • The Moving to Work Retrospective Evaluation
  • Volume 22 Number 3
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

Documenting Racially Restrictive Covenants in 20th Century Philadelphia

Larry Santucci
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

One of the tools used by early 20th century developers, builders, and White homeowners to prevent African-Americans from accessing parts of the residential real estate market was the racially restrictive covenant. In this article, I present a newly constructed spatial dataset of properties in the city of Philadelphia with deeds that contained a racially restrictive covenant at any time from 1920 to 1932. To date, I have reviewed hundreds of thousands of property deeds and identified nearly 4,000 instances in which a racial covenant had been included in the deed. The covenanted properties formed an invisible barrier to less densely populated areas sought after by White residents and around predominantly White neighborhoods throughout the city. I present the data in a series of geospatial maps and discuss plans for future enhancements to the dataset.

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