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Rochester Maps

Rochester and Redlining

Map of Rochester with highlighted districts

Student-posed Question:
Regarding the redlined districts, were these districts as bad as they were described by the government in the primary documents?

Read the primary documents here

Community Expert Response:

I live in northern Marketview Heights. It was part of the old 16th Ward.  At the time of redlining, it was a mixed bag, somewhere between the more distressed areas near the Rail Road tracks and not quite as appealing  as the well-maintained streets around N. Goodman Street and Clifford Ave.

Marketview Heights was a portion of 14605 zip code, which was redlined and later became a Model Cities area in 1967-68. It was a very large area. Generally, redlined districts were older areas of a city. "Bad," of course is a subjective term, and it could encompass many qualities ranging from deteriorated housing stock to public safety to public health.

The eastern portion, which was the old 5th or 7th Ward, I believe, was affected by the riots here in 1964. That area was not far from the Rail Road tracks north of downtown. It had traditionally been an area where new arrivals settled. It is probably fair to say it had suffered from "deferred maintenance" for a considerable time.  My mother could recall a small dead end street, Hope Place, off Joiner Street (I think both are long gone) where, in the 1920-30s some of the poorest immigrants lived: many signs of properties not maintained by landlords even then. At the same time, portions of northern Marketview Heights, especially N. Goodman Street and Clifford Ave were solidly middle class with many owner occupied homes that were well maintained. In the 1960s, the street where I lived, could attract young married couples looking for a first apartment.

The rationale for redlining seems to have been "comparative," inasmuch as Marketview Heights and 14605 were "comparatively" older, with housing stock that, while solid, was hardly architecturally significant. There was also comparatively little buildable land in redlined neighborhoods, and developers prefer to build new. The prime motivation seems to me to have been racial. A redlined area almost always encompassed an African-American neighborhood or abutted one. Throughout the first half of the 20th C, some attempts were made to integrate workplaces and neighborhoods; these were invariably met with hostility.

With the GI Bill and use of FHA in the postwar years, in conjunction with the interstate highway program and a mad dash to build expressways, it seems that government and land owners/speculators saw opportunities in new suburban development rather than urban redevelopment or restoration of properties that coincided with white disinclination to live in integrated areas.