Demographic change, segregation, and the emergence of peripheral spaces in St. Louis, Missouri

Segregation in St. Louis, MO


St. Louis, Missouri, is a case study in America’s long legacy of racism and a prominent example of a “shrinking city.” This paper expands the notions of “core” and “periphery” using the highly segregated city and its suburbs to include not just economic exploitation but also racial exploitation. Using historical and contemporary census data and spatial data delineating the boundaries of Home Owner Loan Corporation grades (i.e., “redlining” maps), this paper examines the relationship between historical racism, contemporary segregation, and economic consequences. I find that St. Louis’s peripheral areas expanded over the twentieth century, first in the city and then in the county, creating dual zones of exploitation where poverty, segregation, and income inequality remain persistently higher. These findings identify the historical roots of contemporary segregation, and suggest that addressing the long term consequences of both racial and economic exploitation in peripheral spaces remains critical for improving African American families' life chances.

Applied Geography, 133
Chris Prener
Chris Prener
Assistant Professor of Sociology

My research interests include first responder work, urban neighborhood disorder, and tracing the effects of place on poor health outcomes.