Where the Sidewalk Ends: Researching Public Infrastructure Requests and Actions by the Charlottesville City Council, 1920-1924

Authors:Wilson, Madison, Architecture GraduateUniversity of Virginia Rangel, Jasmine, Batten School GraduateUniversity of Virginia Kusiak, Brian, Architecture GraduateUniversity of Virginia Laux, Linnea, Landscape Architecture GraduateUniversity of Virginia Di Maro, Geremia, Architecture GraduateUniversity of Virginia Poses, Alexandra, Architecture GraduateUniversity of Virginia

The Mapping C’ville Project interprets and publishes the history of decisions and policies that led to the current spatialized racial inequities in the City of Charlottesville. This group of researchers aims to support the larger goals of the Mapping C’ville Project by investigating the patterns of Charlottesville, Virginia’s infrastructure investments in the early 1920s. Through the partnership and guidance of Jordy Yager of the Mapping C’ville Project and the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, this Charlottesville infrastructure assessment from 1920-1924 is a continuation of last year’s research group’s assessment of the years 1925-1930. This analysis furthers the collective knowledge of how these key investments in communities may have connections to the different health and socioeconomic outcomes for Black and white residents within Charlottesville. While we do not analyze current health disparities in this paper, the infrastructure archival research aids in the understanding of how built environment improvements were often granted to white communities in a higher percentage than Black communities.

This report includes the following: historical context and major events for the timeframe of 1920-1924 in Charlottesville such as the water crisis, the erection of various Confederate statues, local political tensions, and the population and land expansion of the City of Charlottesville; analyses of archived meeting minutes from the Charlottesville City council to understand the kinds of infrastructure investments that occurred in the city during the aforementioned timeline; and the locational patterns of such investments. We find that much of the infrastructure developments were concentrated within the Downtown Charlottesville area within the markedly white neighborhoods of Belmont and Venable. The historic Black neighborhoods of Vinegar Hill, Starr Hill, and Gospel Hill received the smallest share of infrastructure investments during this timeframe. Overall, these findings emphasize the ways in which decisions made by the Charlottesville City Council in the early 1920s were critical to the eventual life outcomes of future Black residents of the city.

Mapping Cville, Charlottesville, City Council Minutes, 1920s
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
University of Virginia
Published Date:
May 10, 2021