Race, Real Estate, and Uneven Development

The Kansas City Experience, 1900-2000

By Kevin Fox Gotham

Subjects: Urban And Regional Planning
Paperback : 9780791453780, 216 pages, July 2002
Hardcover : 9780791453773, 216 pages, July 2002

Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. Race, Real Estate, and Uneven Development: An Introduction

Housing as a System of Social Stratification
Race, Racism, and Racialization
Metropolitan Kansas City: An Overview
Constructing a Segregated Metropolis

2. The Racialization of Space: Restrictive Covenants and the Origins of Racial Residential Segregation

The Great Migration and the Rise of the Modern Real Estate Industry
Racial Restrictive Covenants and the Real Estate Industry


The Role of Community Builders
The Role of Homeowner Associations


The Legacy of Racial Restrictive Covenants

3. Federal Government, Community Builders, and the Development of the Modern Mortgage System

The Housing Act of 1934 and the Creation of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
Community Builders and the FHA
Racial Conflict and the Defense of Racial Space

4. Urban Renewal, Public Housing, and Downtown Redevelopment

A Housing Program for Slum Clearance
Local Implementation and Dislocating Effects
Explaining Postwar Urban Redevelopment

5. Building the Troost Wall: School Segregation, Blockbusting, and the Racial Transition of the Southeast Area

Racial Population Change in Southeast Kansas City, 1950-1975
School Segregation and Neighborhood Racial Transition
Blockbusting and Panic Selling


The Role of the Real Estate Board
Reflections and Experiences with Blockbusting


The Legacy of School Desegregation and Blockbusting

6. The Struggle for Fair Housing

Fair Housing and the Conflict over "Rights"
Housing Act of 1968 and the Section 235 Program


Local Implementation and Segregative Effects
Neighborhood Response and Disinvestment


Federal Housing Policy Retrenchment in the Post-Civil Rights Era
Fair Housing in Retrospect


Race, Housing, and the "New Racism"
Privatism, Real Estate, and the Future of Uneven Development


Examines how the real estate industry and federal housing policy facilitate the development of racial residential segregation.


Traditional explanations of metropolitan development and urban racial segregation have emphasized the role of consumer demand and market dynamics. In Race, Real Estate, and Uneven Development: The Kansas City Experience, 1900-2000, Kevin Fox Gotham reexamines the assumptions behind these explanations and offers a provocative new thesis. Using the Kansas City metropolitan area as a case study, Gotham provides both quantitative and qualitative documentation of the role of the real estate industry and the Federal Housing Administration, demonstrating how these institutions have promulgated racial residential segregation and uneven development. Gotham challenges contemporary explanations while providing fresh insights into the racialization of metropolitan space, the interlocking dimensions of class and race in metropolitan development, and the importance of analyzing housing as a system of social stratification.

Kevin Fox Gotham is Professor of Sociology at Tulane University.


"This work challenges the notion that demographic change and residential patterns are 'natural' or products of free market choices … [it] contributes greatly to our understanding of how real estate interests shaped the hyper-segregation of American cities, and how government agencies[,] including school districts, worked in tandem to further demark the separate and unequal worlds in metropolitan life. " — H-Net Reviews (H-Education)

"A hallmark of this book is its fine-grained analysis of just how specific activities of realtors, the FHA program, and members of the local school board contributed to the residential segregation of blacks in twentieth century urban America. A process Gotham labels the 'racialization of urban space'—the social construction of urban neighborhoods that links race, place, behavior, culture, and economic factors—has led white residents, realtors, businessmen, bankers, land developers, and school board members to act in ways that restricted housing for blacks to specific neighborhoods in Kansas City, as well as in other cities. " — Philip Olson, University of Missouri–Kansas City

"This is a book which is greatly needed in the field. Gotham integrates, using historical data, the involvement of the real estate industry and the collusion of the federal government in the manufacturing of racially biased housing practices. His work advances the struggle for civil rights by showing that solving the problem of racism is not as simple as banning legal discrimination, but rather needs to address the institutional practices at all levels of the real estate industry. " — Talmadge Wright, author of Out of Place: Homeless Mobilizations, Subcities, and Contested Landscapes