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Construction of Freeway Displaces Black Detroiters (1959)

After World War II, local, state, and federal governments invested in building new highways, civic developments, housing, and other infrastructure. These urban renewal projects claimed to “revitalize” and “modernize” American cities by “clearing slums,” but they devastated poor communities, and disproportionately communities of color. Detroit, Michigan was completely transformed by these sorts of projects. When the city began construction of the Walter P. Chrysler Expressway in 1959, it razed an entire predominantly Black neighborhood, called Black Bottom. City planners and politicians celebrated the new construction but residents of the area lost their homes and received only minimal governmental assistance to relocate.

Source | "Detroit Expressways: Souvenir, Ground Breaking Ceremonies, Walter P. Chrysler Expressway," January 30, 1959. Carl Almblad Papers, Box 8, Folder 56. Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University.
Item Type | Artifact
Cite This document | “Construction of Freeway Displaces Black Detroiters (1959),” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed February 25, 2024,

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