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The Divergent City: Unequal and Uneven Development in St. Louis
Urban Geography
  • J. Rosie Tighe, Cleveland State University
  • Joanna Ganning, Cleveland State University
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In St. Louis, as in many other cities, decline and displacement occurred when key policies, prejudices, and plans interacted with broad economic restructuring to devastate poor and minority communities, while leaving White and middle-class communities largely intact. Amidst overall population loss and neighborhood decline are pockets of prosperity and gentrification within the central city. In this article, we analyze three significant planning interventions in St. Louis, Missouri, that spurred displacement of populations—urban renewal, triage, and the foreclosure crisis. We argue that the differential experiences of Black and White during each of these periods represent two faces of development: one in the north of the city that is largely Black, experiencing vacant land, high crime, and crumbling infrastructure; another in the south of the city that is largely White, enjoying pockets of vibrant commercial development, larger homes, and stable real estate markets. We analyze each period through a framework of uneven and unequal development and displacement, which we call the Divergent City Theory. Based on this theory, planners face an ethical obligation to plan for the future of their cities in a way that seeks to reconcile the structured race and class inequalities of the divergent city.
Citation Information
J. Rosie Tighe and Joanna Ganning. "The Divergent City: Unequal and Uneven Development in St. Louis" Urban Geography Vol. 36 Iss. 5 (2015) p. 654 - 673
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