Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Redlining

HOLC Redlining Map, 1937

Home Owners' Loan Corporation Map (1937)

Maps from the 1930s, like this Home Owners’ Loan Corporation map from 1937, used red to identify neighborhoods where investment and lending were discouraged. (National Archives and Records Administration via
Urban Oasis.org)

National Archives and Records Administration via UrbanOasis.org

The Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC), developed as a New Deal program, was created to assist homeowners in danger of foreclosure during the Great Depression. During the 1930s, HOLC developed maps that designated the lending risk of an area by color coding it. Areas colored green were considered “first grade” or “best” for lending, followed by blue, second-grade areas, considered “still desirable” for lending. Third-grade, yellow areas signified neighborhoods considered “declining,” and red-colored areas were labeled as too risky for lending.

The redlined neighborhoods included sections of West Philadelphia and South Philadelphia, as well as areas near downtown. These were neighborhoods where few mortgage loans were distributed by financial and lending institutions and where the black population was significantly higher.

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