The Capacity of a Line

On the one hand, a spatially deployed line is a divisive tool that tears people apart. On the other hand, a line is a powerful advocate of unity, inclusivity, equality, and rectitude. A single line on a map has divided nations, propagated inequity, and deleted Africa’s geographical landscape. A line with altruistic legibility has mapped ancient treasures, generated beautiful imaginary universes, and even bridged historically segregated communities.

In 1938 the Home Owners Loan Corporation carved a line around 60% of Macon, Georgia on a map. They colored it red, and gave it a D. The worst classification possible. The line denoted a perilous place to underwrite mortgages and was based on an erroneous belief that neighborhoods with African American residents would undermine local property values. Regrettably, the line forever codified patterns of racial segregation and disparities in access to housing, credit, and wealth accumulation. To this very day, studies find differences in the level of racial segregation, homeownership rates, home values, and credit scores are still exceedingly apparent where those now infamous lines were drawn, some 90 years ago.

Ultimately, this thesis aspires to develop a series of constructed cartographic explorations and spatial interventions situated within a reimagined Macon, Georgia in the year 1937. One year prior to the city being redlined. These constructs and spatial responses will act as a testbed on which to form a probative analysis on the moral integrity and agency of Designers, Architects, Planners, Policy Makers, Legislators, and all other “Cartographers”.

By way of interrogating a line's capacity to manipulate and create the world around us, one can derive deep principles empowering us to identify and draw lines from commonalities and regions that deliberately foster unity, inclusivity, equality, and rectitude.
Faculty Advisor:
Perry Kulper