Bay City

The federal government redlined Bay City on August 14, 1937. Consistent with the requirements of the government Underwriting Manual, the redlining specifically targeted residents of color, deeming their neighborhoods as “hazardous” to investment because they had residents of color or were even near residents of color. The original redlining map is below. We also have a map overlaying the original HOLC boundaries on 2019 segregation, which starkly show the continued effects of these racist practices.

Historical HOLC Redlining Map for Bay City, Michigan (Nelson et al. 2020).

Bay City Neighborhood Grading Justifications

The racist language and explanations below are quoted from the “Area Description Files” filled out by government appraisers. The language and justifications are coarse and offensive. Nonetheless, it is important to remember our past in all of its coarseness is offensiveness to fully understand the context that we confront today, especially when developing equitable housing policies.

Redlined neighborhoods

Government appraisers redlined the northern neighborhoods of the eastern bank of the Saginaw River because they were the only part of the city where Black people lived. Government appraisers noted that this area was “completely undesirable.” Other neighborhoods were graded red due to their poor construction and the age of that construction.

 Yellow-graded neighborhoods

Government appraisers gave most of the neighborhoods a yellow grade because, even though many of the estimated incomes were higher, these areas contained “foreign-born populations,” including Polish, German, and French. The government appraiser also noted that “some degree of movement of good type population [‘native white’] to this district.”

Blue-graded neighborhoods

All of the neighborhoods graded blue had “native white” and “white collar” inhabitants. Despite the “substantial age and obsolescence” of these areas, the “types of inhabitants” were sufficient to deem them blue.

Green-graded neighborhoods

The only neighborhood graded green is to the east of Bay City due to its inhabitants being “native white” and “business executives.”

 

The Legacy of Redlining in Bay City

We overlay the historical HOLC “redlining” map on present-day demographic data to show the persistence and continued relevance of these racist policies on present-day segregation. We mirror the racist HOLC color gradation to help visualize the continued segregation, as a lasting impact of redlining.

 

HOLC Grades overlaid on the people of color populations by 2019 Census Tract in Bay City, Michigan (Manson et al. 2021 and Nelson et al. 2020). Percent people of color are calculated for U.S. Census tracts as percent not “White non-Hispanic,” using the 2019 American Community Survey.

Higher segregation is associated with lower incomes, lower educational attainment, more crime, worse health outcomes, and higher inequality. But segregation is not the only lasting impact of redlining in Michigan Cities, or in Bay City. Researchers have shown that redlining also directly reduced many of these outcomes.


This research was conducted by Michigan State University Extension Specialist Craig Wesley Carpenter, Ph.D. (@DrCWCarpenter or carpe224@msu.edu).