Recognizing Two Montgomeries
Fall 2016 I Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, I New York City
Instructor: Lee Altman
Name: Reconciling Two Montgomeries
Team: Wanpeng Zu, Kristen Reardon, Isabel Carrasco, Zichang Yan
Montgomery is a city shaped by its involvement in the racially charged events of United States history. Slavery helped boost an agriculture economy for Alabama but introduced racial segregation that still exists today. Although years have passed since the legal end of racial segregation in the South, a closer look reveals an imbalance in what the city needs and what the city provides. Two different visions of the city emerge. Through one lens, major issues in the education, agriculture, and transportation systems are weighted heavily in lower-income, African American neighborhoods. During the period of urban renewal, the city was cut apart through highway construction, manifesting the invisible division of race into a physical one. In a region surrounded by fertile soil, farming contributes little to the economy of Montgomery. However, the environmental impact of poultry production is inflicted upon the residents. School districts and taxation benefit high-income, predominately white communities. Historical locations involved in the slave trade and lynching are seldom memorialized, increasing resentment between African Americans and the city government. The other lens is a city of white privilege embracing its place as the Confederate capital and center of the Civil Rights movement. A downtown revitalization movement is gaining momentum and aims to bring young residents into the city center. The city hopes to bring industrial development to the region to increase jobs and encourage economic development. These two diverging views adds friction to an already racially divided city. If the city government recognizes the past and current injustices against the African American population, the city can become unified into one Montgomery.