Housing demolition during urban renewal

Emily Talen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


While there continues to be much assessment of the enduring, largely negative legacy of urban renewal, there has been very little quantified, nationwide analysis at the neighborhood level. This paper contributes to the literature on urban renewal by investigating one dimension of mid-20th century urban change: housing demolition. During the middle decades of the 20th century, government-backed demolition occurred under a variety of housing and transportation programs. Because during those controversial decades no single agency kept track of what was demolished and where, I use a proxy: net loss of housing units by census tract for each decade between 1940 and 1970. I consider three hypotheses: that substandard housing and percent nonwhite in a census tract predicted its likelihood of urban renewal demolition, that the eventual outcome of urban renewal was an increase in higher-density housing, and that there was an improvement in socioeconomic factors. None of the hypotheses are supported. Quantitative, national level analysis of urban renewal has been rare, and much more is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-253
Number of pages21
JournalCity and Community
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies


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