How the Suburbs Were Segregated

Developers and the Business of Exclusionary Housing, 1890–1960

Paige Glotzer

Columbia University Press

How the Suburbs Were Segregated

Pub Date: May 2020

ISBN: 9780231179997

296 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£25.00

Pub Date: May 2020

ISBN: 9780231179980

296 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $120.00£100.00

Pub Date: May 2020

ISBN: 9780231542494

296 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£25.00

How the Suburbs Were Segregated

Developers and the Business of Exclusionary Housing, 1890–1960

Paige Glotzer

Columbia University Press

The story of the rise of the segregated suburb often begins during the New Deal and the Second World War, when sweeping federal policies hollowed out cities, pushed rapid suburbanization, and created a white homeowner class intent on defending racial barriers. Paige Glotzer offers a new understanding of the deeper roots of suburban segregation. The mid-twentieth-century policies that favored exclusionary housing were not simply the inevitable result of popular and elite prejudice, she reveals, but the culmination of a long-term effort by developers to use racism to structure suburban real estate markets.

Glotzer charts how the real estate industry shaped residential segregation, from the emergence of large-scale suburban development in the 1890s to the postwar housing boom. Focusing on the Roland Park Company as it developed Baltimore’s wealthiest, whitest neighborhoods, she follows the money that financed early segregated suburbs, including the role of transnational capital, mostly British, in the U.S. housing market. She also scrutinizes the business practices of real estate developers, from vetting homebuyers to negotiating with municipal governments for services. She examines how they sold the idea of the suburbs to consumers and analyzes their influence in shaping local and federal housing policies. Glotzer then details how Baltimore’s experience informed the creation of a national real estate industry with professional organizations that lobbied for planned segregated suburbs. How the Suburbs Were Segregated sheds new light on the power of real estate developers in shaping the origins and mechanisms of a housing market in which racial exclusion and profit are still inextricably intertwined.
Glotzer tackles a complicated subject with nuance and an attention to detail that is remarkable. While there are many highly acclaimed books on the history of housing segregation and racial exclusion in suburbia, none of these have approached the topic from the perspective of developers and capital investors, much less followed the money, in the way Glotzer has. Andrew W. Kahrl, University of Virginia

About the Author

Paige Glotzer is assistant professor and John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Chair in the History of American Politics, Institutions, and Political Economy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.