A. Barton Hinkle on the Racist Roots of Zoning Laws


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"Blacks," said Mayor Barry Mahool, "should be quarantined in isolated slums in order to reduce the incidents of civil disturbance, to prevent the spread of communicable disease into the nearby White neighborhoods, and to protect property values among the White majority." Mahool was the mayor of Baltimore who, in 1910, signed into law a racial zoning ordinance. According to Christopher Silver's The Racial Origins of Zoning in American Cities, he was also "a nationally recognized member of the 'social justice' wing of the Progressive movement." And unfortunately, writes A. Barton Hinkle, zoning's racist roots still bear fruit.