During the Depression, the federal government created the now-defunct Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC). The agency drew maps, like this 1939 map of Cleveland, of over 200 cities in order to document the “riskiness” of lending in neighborhoods in these cities.
While neighborhoods were rated on physical characteristics, like housing age and quality, the racial and ethnic makeup of communities were also considered. This led to the commonly known practice of redlining, which is when creditworthy applicants were denied loans in yellow (Security Grade C) and red (Security Grade D) communities. Redlining was a practice which held back many American cities from becoming truly equitable communities. When we look at the opinions of decades past through the eyes of a more educated society, one will find statements in the HOLC reports that seem unbelievable and incredibly offensive. The purpose of this data story is to educate others on the realities that were once common practice, and which left a lasting scar on our community.
A navigation panel is provided below the map. Use the icons to assist you in navigating the map.
Roll your mouse over the four color hotspot icons that indicate the four Security Grades (A, B, C, D). A description of that Security Grade will pop-up. Click on the hotspot icon to review the 1939 HOLC reports from the United Sates National Archive.
Zoom and pan with the mouse
To begin exploring with your mouse, move the mouse pointer so that it's in the middle of the map display. Use the following list as a guide for completing navigation actions with the mouse:
- To move or pan the map, drag the map in the direction you want it to move.
- You can use the mouse scroll wheel to zoom in and out. Rotate the wheel up to zoom in, and rotate down to zoom out.
Each security report includes some strikingly discriminatory categories as listed below. It is important to see these classifications as the structural racism that they were. We must learn from this appalling chapter in our country in order to bring about needed change for our common future as a community.