Analysis of: Schindler’s “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment”

In Schindler’s “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment,” she explains how “the built environment is characterized by man-made physical features that make it difficult for often poor people and people of color to have access to certain places” (1934). Within a built environment, there is a certain structure created that the community people have to follow based off of what is provided to them. For example, “the absence of sidewalks and crosswalks” contributed to isolating poor people and people of color because of the circumstances that they were currently facing (1934). For poor people and people of color, it was a known opinion of both of these parties that they did not commonly drive and would walk and take buses mostly. Another instance where this occurred was in Long Island with Robert Moses. He designed many of the areas in Long Island and he “directed overpasses to be built intentionally low so that buses could not pass under” which prohibited many poor people and people of color from being able to gain access to specific parts of Long Island like the beach (1937). This mostly affected people of color and poor people because they were the people “who most relied on public transportation” (1937). This decision to have overpasses be purposely low prohibited many people from having the same opportunity as others and made the built environment of Long Island bias to the people living there. Another area negatively affected by built environment is Atlanta, Georgia. The public transportation system is the “Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transit Authority (MARTA)” and it did not give accessibility to certain areas based on built environment (1937). Certain areas did not want MARTA to be able to reach them because the areas were owned by “wealthy, mostly white residents” and they did not want to “give people of color easy access to suburban communities” (1938). By not giving people of color access to these more wealthy areas, they were subjected to being confined in more poorer areas instead. Also with no ability to reach Northern Atlanta, people of color were not able to hold higher paying jobs there causing them to have less opportunities. Since people of color and poor people were purposely cut out of these specific more affluent areas, they were given no choice but to stay where they were used to if they used public transportation.

My Analysis of: Schindler’s Take on Architectural Exclusion

In her, “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment,” Sarah Schindler explains how the built environment is created based off of “man-made physical features” (1) that purposely prevent some people from places most commonly poor people and people of color. For example, when “bridges were designed to be so low that buses could not pass under them in order to prevent people of color from accessing a public beach.” (1) But the person who designed the overpasses to be discriminatory was Robert Moses, also known as the “Master Builder of New York”(4).  Robert Moses’s work in New York was beneficial for many since he built such great structures and some now staples of Long Island but the way that he went about it was wrong because he purposefully tried to exclude specific groups of people. Such as, buses not being able to reach the beach because of the low bridges and knowing the type of person who mainly took the bus, black people and poor people.He built most of New York’s framework hence him being named for many state and local offices, so he was an important figure for many. Now, there is no longer the issue of people of color not having access to the beach but the point is that the structure of construction was intended to separate and divide people.

It was not only Long Island that hindered by the built environment around them. In Atlanta, the Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transit Authority or MARTA is the underground train structure and many wealthy people did not want it to be attached to Northern Atlanta in order to remain separate from the poor people who used this form of transportation. For instance, the public transit was nothing that the wealthy that lived in Northern Atlanta needed but it was something that could have benefited those who do use it, the poor people and people of color. Since there was no way for poor people and people of color to arrive in such an area despite the given opportunities that were in Northern Atlanta, especially job opportunities. Such as, many poor people and people of color wanting to better themselves but the built environment was set up for them to not be physically capable to so. Most of them could not afford a car making it difficult to use transportation to reach these areas besides public transportation which is unavailable because it was not created. Having a different set of access to certain more prominent areas may appear to not be an important factor but in the end it was the main reason that progress was held up for poor people and people of color. They were not on the same level as the other wealthier people that they lived near to therefore it created even more obstacles for them to face in order to flourish and advance to have a better life for themselves and future generations.

The main reason why there is some degree of change is because “the law has addressed the exclusionary impacts of racially restrictive covenants and zoning ordinances”(1). Poor people and people of color have not been protected from exclusion by the Courts, judges and lawmakers because “it is difficult to show the necessary intent to discriminate”(6). There have to be a legitimate amount of proof that can be shown to Courts in order to have anything done about the situation of the built environment. It is difficult to show what is the main objective behind certain aspects of the land use. There are “less obvious exclusionary urban design tactics” (6) that no one pays attention to because they do not see the separation and the discrimination. Some examples are “street grid design, one-way streets, the absence of sidewalks and crosswalks, the location of highways and transit stops and even residential parking permit requirements” all are factors that influence how certain opportunities are available to poor people and people of color.