Delmar Divide

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Delmar Boulevard. Left is south of Delmar Boulevard and right is north of Delmar Boulevard.

The Delmar Divide refers to Delmar Boulevard as a socioeconomic and racial dividing line in St. Louis, Missouri. The term was popularized outside Greater St. Louis by a four-minute documentary from the BBC.[1] Delmar Blvd. is an east–west street with its western terminus in the municipality of University City extending into the City of St. Louis. There is a dense concentration of eclectic commerce on Delmar Blvd near the municipal borders of University City and St Louis. This area is known as the Delmar Loop. A similar nearby area to east-southeast is the Central West End (CWE), with over 125 businesses.[2] Delmar Blvd is referred to as a “divide” because the neighborhood to the south of it is 70% white and the neighborhood to the north is 98% black, and because of corresponding distinct socioeconomic, cultural, and public policy differences.[3]

History of segregation in St. Louis[edit]

In 1916, during the Jim Crow Era, St. Louis passed a residential segregation ordinance.[4] This ordinance stated that if 75% of the residents of a neighborhood were of a certain race, no one from a different race was allowed to move into the neighborhood.[5] This ordinance did not stand as it was challenged in court by the NAACP.[6] In response, racial covenants on housing were introduced. These prevented the sale of houses in certain neighborhoods to, “persons not of Caucasian race”. The racial covenants were ruled to be unconstitutional in 1948 when they were overturned in the Shelley v. Kraemer Supreme Court case.[7] In those 32 years, the covenants caused The Ville (an area of St. Louis several blocks north of Delmar) to become the main black middle class neighborhood. In 1954, St. Louis passed an ordinance to redevelop the Mill Creek Valley, an African American area district that is several blocks south of Delmar Blvd. In 1959, when the redevelopment began, the Mill Creek Valley was torn down to build an addition to Saint Louis University, Highway 40, Laclede Town, and Grand Towers.[8] Most of the people that were displaced by this redevelopment moved to The Ville and an area north of Delmar to Natural Bridge. To further combat the displacement of the Mill Creek Valley, the St. Louis Housing Authority increased the amount of public housing north of Delmar which continued into the 2000s.[9] This helped to solidify Delmar Blvd as a racial and socioeconomic dividing line in St. Louis, Missouri.

Statistics and studies[edit]

Racial makeup Median home value Median income Percentage of residents with bachelor's degrees
Neighborhood directly North of Delmar Blvd 98% Black $73,000 $18,000 10%
Neighborhood directly South of Delmar Blvd 73% White $335,000 $50,000 70%

Many studies have been done chronicling segregation in St. Louis, Missouri. The 2010 census data was chronicled into a map in which placed a dot for each person recorded, changing their colors by race.[10]

A Manhattan Institute study entitled “The End of the Segregated Century: Racial Separation in America's Neighborhoods, 1890-2010” studied segregation in the cities in the US with the largest population of black residents. The study ranked each city by a dissimilarity index and an isolation index. The dissimilarity index measures the extent to which different racial groups are found to live in equal proportion in each neighborhood in a city. The higher the number, the higher a percentage of a racial group would need to move to a different neighborhood to achieve equality. The isolation index measures neighborhoods that have extremely different racial makeups. In 2010, St. Louis ranked 14th in African American population. It had a dissimilarity index of 71.0 (the fifth-highest score in major cities in the US) and an isolation index of 53.8 (the 6th highest score in major cities in the US).[11] This study found St. Louis to be one of the most segregated cities in the US. A study done by Washington University in St Louis and Saint Louis University found the higher number of African American residents in a community is correlated with higher rates of poverty.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ “Crossing a St Louis street that divides communities.” BBC News. BBC News, Web. Retrieved November 7, 2014
  2. ^ “Central West End The Best of Urban Eclectic.” Web. Retrieved November 10, 2014
  3. ^ “Census Results (2010)” Us Census Bureau, Web. Retrieved November 10,
  4. ^ Primm, James. Lion of the Valley: St. Louis, Missouri, 1764-1980. St. Louis, Missouri: Missouri History Museum Press. 1998. Print
  5. ^ Smith, Jeffrey. “A Preservation Plan for St. Louis Part I: Historic Contexts” St. Louis, Missouri Cultural Resources Office. Web. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  6. ^ NAACP. Papers of the NAACP Part 5. The Campaign against Residential Segregation. Frederick, MD: University Publications of America. 1986. Web
  7. ^ “Shelley House". We Shall Overcome: Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement. National Park Service. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  8. ^ Smith, Jeffrey. “A Preservation Plan for St. Louis Part I: Historic Contexts” St. Louis, Missouri Cultural Resources Office. Web. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  9. ^ Smith, Jeffrey. “A Preservation Plan for St. Louis Part I: Historic Contexts” St. Louis, Missouri Cultural Resources Office. Web. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  10. ^ Cable, Dustin. The Racial Dot Map. University of Virginia, July 2013. Web. Accessed November 10, 2014
  11. ^ Glaeser, Edward and Vigdor, Jacob. “The End of the Segregated Century: Racial Separation in America's Neighborhoods, 1890-2010” Civic Report Vol 66. January 2012: 1-11. Web.
  12. ^ Purnell, Jason, Gabriela Camberos, and Robert Fields. “For the Sake of All.” Rep. Washington University in St. Louis and Saint Louis University, 30 May 2014. Web. 10 November 2014.