Between Redlining and Greenlining: The Formation of a Chocolate City

Authors: Chryl Corbin*, University of California - Berkeley
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Environment, Land Use
Keywords: Race, Class, Green Space, Gentrification, Environmental Justice
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Napoleon D2, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Between 1960 and 1980 the City of Oakland, California transitioned from a predominantly white population to being celebrated as the epicenter of the Black Power Movement and as a Chocolate City. During this time the economic loss tied to white flight led capital flows out of the city coupled by the collapse of the domestic manufacturing industry became realized and then felt, making both the City of Oakland and its Black populations economically precarious starting in the 1980s and well into the 2000s. In early 2000s Oakland began being recognized as a top green/sustainable city, tourist destination, and hipster enclave. Today Oakland stands as a model of one of the most volatile gentrification processes within the US. By weaving together the history of race, class, property, and green space, this research reveals the relationships between the racialization of space in Oakland, CA from 1960 —prior to the Civil Rights Acts— to 2000 after Oakland adopted environmental policies. What is also made visible are bloom and blight cycles, the visual environmental expressions that indicate spaces of investment and disinvestment that take place on the landscape. This paper argues that the investments in the surbubinazation project of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, created fallow, reserve, urban landscapes in Oakland through a process of economic neglect and disinvestment starting during 1970s and continuing in the 1980s and 90s. These fallow, reserve, landscapes were the necessary precursor to the green gentrification process seen today in Oakland, CA.

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