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James Helming knew every corner in Fresno. He knew which ro were paved and he knew which way the smoke from nearby factories blew. He knew the houses, and he knew who lived in them. Armenian, Russian, and Italian residents were moving north, and the black and Hispanic populations were growing and expanding in their place. And Helming's agency, the Home Owners' Loan Corporation, drew color-coded maps to determine who would get the credit necessary to buy houses.
White neighborhoods were shaded green, and white buyers in these areas were generally approved for loans. Neighborhoods with large minority populations were shaded red, denied mortgages, and labeled undesirable. But in the majority-minority city of half a million, those riches are not equally divided. The boundaries are put in place and it automates itself from there. In the exclusive enclaves of north Fresno, life expectancy is 90 years. Segregation here is older than the city itself, dating to its post-Gold Rush-era founding.
Over the next 25 years, the city grew quickly and attracted Mexican, Japanese, Armenian, and Italian immigrants, who were also forced to live in southwest Fresno. One report estimated that, by the s, nearly percent of black Fresnans lived on the west side.
Another found that in Fresno had the highest degree of black-white segregation in California. Inthe U. In the decades that followed, city plans and zoning ordinances kept the southwest isolated. There, the city built shopping malls, hospitals and college campuses. The southwest got slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants. In Fresno, segregation that began with Chinese immigrants evolved over time to target Hispanic and, most explicitly and acutely, black residents. White and wealthy above it, poor, black, and Hispanic below.
A s-era city planning document actually refers to the street as Fresno's Mason-Dixon Line. There are exceptions, and pockets of prosperity and poverty exist above and below Shaw, but still, the side of the street a person lives on matters. Popular Latest. The Atlantic Crossword. In Subscribe.
The areas shaded red were home to an "undesirable" population. Highway 99, seen cutting north to south through the city in this photograph. When it was built, one lawmaker called it "Fresno's Berlin Wall," separating west Fresno from the rest of the city.
Courtesy of United States Geological Survey.Single rich women in Fresno
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