Image_4_Three Histories of Greening and Whiteness in American Cities.jpg (113.79 kB)

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posted on 2021-07-07, 13:51 authored by James J. T. Connolly, Isabelle Anguelovski

How has urban greening related to the degree of whiteness in neighborhoods? The answer to this question provides an essential “historical diagnostic” that can be used to develop an approach to urban ecology which integrates racial and ethnic change into the planning for proposed interventions. In this paper we employ state sequence analysis to analyze the historical trend of greening (including the implementation of new parks, greenways, community gardens, green recreation areas, and nature preserves) between 1975 and 2014 in a sample of nine cities in the United States relative to concentrations of white and non-white residents. We divide the nine cities into three common growth trajectories and separately examine the trends for each growth trajectory. We further illustrate these trends by mobilizing qualitative data from field work in selected neighborhoods to help explain the processes that generate certain key findings in the quantitative data. We find that the relationship between greening and race/ethnicity differs according to city-level growth trajectory. Cities with continuous high and rapid levels of growth in the postwar period have the strongest link between increased greening and whiter populations. Meanwhile, in cities that contracted or had a punctuated growth pattern, non-white areas had a uniformly low level of greening that occurred mostly in recent years. In all, we show how urban growth, greening, and whiteness are inextricably associated qualities of American cities. We argue that understanding this association is essential for development of a race-conscious model for enhancing urban ecosystems.