Redlined: Context

In 1936, the Federal Housing Administration commissioned a series of maps describing those urban areas in which the government would, and would not, underwrite loans and mortgages. The areas that were "redlined" were deemed unfit investments. These were, almost exclusively, communities of color.

Today, these now 80-year old lines still delineate zones of inequity and struggle. Boston's Washington Street corridor, running along the edge of Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, is ground zero for the fight against gentrification and displacement: a consortium of developers, backed by the city's redevelopment agency, have been aggressively advancing a massive development plan that promises to turn the area into rows of luxury condos and commercial real estate unaffordable for the area's traditionally Black and Latino residents.

In September 2015, City Life/Vida Urbana redrew the original 'red line' around Boston's historic communities of color, retracing the route with a powder made of crushed red brick culled from recent building demolitions. As we went, we engaged residents in conversation about housing struggles, past and present, in an attempt to remember a history that has decided, to this day, who has the right to stay and who has to go, who has access, and who is denied entry.