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America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

Home Owners Loan Corporation Red-Line Map of Syracuse and Vicinity

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Sergei Grimm, 1937 HOME OWNERS LOAN CORPORATION RED-LINE MAP OF SYRACUSE AND VICINITY (1937). Courtesy of Emanuel J. Carter, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Creator Sergei Grimm for the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC)
Context Home ownership after World War II
Audience Only federal officials and senior bank personnel
Purpose To show red-lining in urban neighborhoods

Historical Significance

In 1936, the federal government established HOLC to inventory and grade all residential areas throughout the nation. HOLC hired appraisers and surveyors to assign a "grade" on a scale from "A" to "D" for residential homes. Red was the color used for the "D" grade--thus, the term "red-lining." If a neighborhood received a "D" grade, mortgage lenders often refused to make loans to properties within the neighborhood. The appraiser looked at such factors as building decay, neglect, and a neighborhood's racial and ethnic make-up. If African Americans, Jews, and the foreign-born lived in the neighborhood, the appraiser downgraded the area for mortgage insurance. HOLC produced hundreds of maps--viewed only by federal government officials and senior bank managers.

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