A Master Plan for the Physical Development of the City (1946)


This excerpt from the 1946 master plan for the redevelopment of Richmond, created by the prominent urban renewal consulting firm of Harland Bartholomew and Associates, provides the rationale for razing large parts of majority Black neighborhoods in the city. The document, commissioned by the City Planning Commission, proposes changes to the city’s street layout, multiple new schools and parks, and a comprehensive plan for the long-term development of housing within the city’s core. Harland Bartholomew and Associates produced or consulted on master plans for more than 550 cities in the Unites States, including Richmond and Charlottesville.


It is also questionable whether low-rental housing should always be built in the central areas of the city to replace existing slums on relatively high-priced land or whether vacant areas in other sections of the city might be used and population gradually siphoned from the decadent areas. It is not necessarily true that all slums should be cleared for low-rental homes. The strategic location of many of these areas in the city’s design may make their use more appropriate for down-town apartments for white-collar workers and other income groups of for some industrial or public purpose. Undue emphasis on land cost in slum areas has also caused unduly high population densities in many developments, frequently exceeding the number of families originally housed within the project boundaries. This type of development is perpetuating one of the principal factors creating original blight and every effort should be made to lower rather than increase this density in order to provide more openness, better recreation and a sound community pattern.     


Plate Number 29 has been prepared to show the general location and extent of slums and blighted districts in Richmond. The dense Negro areas north of Broad Street are very bad and constitute one of the most pressing and immediate problems or the city. Every effort should be made to improve these conditions. The general district north of Mt. Calvary Cemetery is also characterized by badly substandard Negro homes, although development is much more sporadic and considerable vacancy exists. There are large areas in the old eastern section of the city which have depreciated for many years. The area shown at the north of the present city is Washington Park, a Negro subdivision. The worst areas in South Richmond lie in the general vicinity of Hull and Maury, both east and west of Petersburg Turnpike, and these are also largely Negro in character.

APA Citation:
Richmond City Planning Commission. A Master Plan for the Physical Development of the City (1946). (2024, April 22). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Richmond City Planning Commission. "A Master Plan for the Physical Development of the City (1946)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (22 Apr. 2024). Web. 29 May. 2024
Last updated: 2024, April 22
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