In 1935-1936, field agents of the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) showed up in Harrisburg to identify areas of the city and the surrounding communities that were (in their estimation) worthy of investment through government-insured housing loans. The survey gathered information about the property and population of Harrisburg and its surrounding communities in order to divide inhabited zones into four distinct risk grades: “Best,” “Still Desirable,” “Definitely Declining,” and “Hazardous.” These grades served to guide the federal government in insuring private and public mortgage loans, in effect directing funds to communities and neighborhoods according to their racial, ethnic, and economic characteristics. Awarding communities according to their racial profile, among other criteria, hastened racial segregation in the city and region.
In this exhibit, we offer resources and an interactive map related to the redlining of Harrisburg. This is a developing exhibit that will continue to be updated over the course of the 2020-2021 academic year.
Harrisburg Redlined (interactive map)
Click on the images below to view an interactive Story Map called “Harrisburg Redlined: The Zoning Practices that Segregated a Region.” Created by students and faculty of Messiah College and Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, the map allows the visitor to view the HOLC grading of the Harrisburg region in 1935-1936.
Original HOLC Reports
Download and view the original reports of the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation of 1935-1936 used to grade the Harrisburg region into secure and insecure zones. These reports and their grading became the basis for the unjust policy of awarding loans to some neighborhoods over others. These are digital copies of original documents from the National Archives, which were preserved as part of Record Group 195 of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board.
For further information about redlining in general, see:
- Housing Segregation and Redlining in America (NPR video)
- Richard Rothstein’s book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (2018)
For overviews of redlining in central Pennsylvania, see:
- “The Lines that Divide Us” – Blogpost (David Michael, Humanities in Place, June 12, 2019)
- “Redlining in York: How government policies kept African Americans poor and segregated” (Jim McClure, York Daily Record, September 4, 2019)
- “My City Was Gone: How Redlining helped Segregate, Blight Harrisburg” (Lizzy Hardison, The Burg, August 31, 2018)
- “Harrisburg and Redlining” – Blogpost (Rachel Williams, Digital Harrisburg, May 14, 2018)
- “Finding Home” (student poster exhibits by Messiah College humanities fellows, Humanities in Place, February 2018).