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This project was created by students in Michigan State University’s Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) as part of RCAH 192: Urban Renewal in the spring of 2018 and added to in the spring of 2019. It seeks to tell the stories of homeowners affected by Urban Renewal and the process of redlining in Lansing, Michigan. The main focus was the area cleared for the construction of Interstate 496 from 1963-1970 and the area around the Oldsmobile/General Motors Grand River Assembly Plant. The site discusses both specific homes and general themes present in archival documents from the Stebbins Real Estate collection, located in the Forest Parke Library and Archives in Downtown Lansing.

Questions about the site can be directed to RCAH Associate Professor John Aerni-Flessner who taught the class: AerniFL1@msu.edu

We can always update the page as well, so if you have any other useful information or stories, please pass them along.

The class would like to thank CADL Archivist Heidi Butler as well as the staff at the LEADR Lab at MSU, including Brandon Locke, Jen Andrella, Alice Lynn McMichael, and Brian Van Wyck for their help with the research and technical aspects of this project.

Themes & Defintions for the Project:

  • Urban Renewal: The redevelopment of areas within a large city, typically involving the clearance of “slums.” Often sold as an attempt to revitalize poor areas, this practice was particular popular after World War II.

  • Redlining: Redlining is the practice of denying services, either directly or through selectively raising prices, to residents of certain areas based on the racial or ethnic makeups of those areas. The Federal Housing Administration did not back loans in red-lined areas.

  • On-Contract: A form of home purchasing, consisting of monthly payments not unlike renting. If a monthly payment was missed before the home was paid off, the property would be claimed by the bank or estate agency. All previous payments would be lost, making this a popular and profitable tactic for landlords when lending to low income buyers at risk of missed payments; it made buying on-contract a risky strategy for low income buyers, but for many minorities was the only option as banks would not lend in “high risk” or redlined areas.

  • Restrictive Covenants: A contract or agreement in the deed of a house that requires certain conditions to be met. In the case of racially restrictive covenants, homeowners typically required that the house not be sold to members of specific races or ethnicities.

  • Subdividing: Dividing a single property into two or more parcels. Some examples of this shown are single family houses being converted into living units for multiple families.

  • Zone/Zoning: A tactic in land-use planning for designating areas for certain uses. In the context of this website, we talk about zoning being used to classify areas by priority for FHA loans based on racial and socioeconomic backgrounds of the residents.


  • Scroll over a bubble to learn the name of a house.

  • For more information on a house, click on the bubble to see a description and any supporting documents.

  • Click the plus or minus symbols to zoom.

  • There are three different layers on the map: a current street map; a map from 1934 with color-coded and redlined neighborhoods; and a map of the city prior to urban renewal. To turn off layers or see a different map, click the tiny black box in the upper right hand corner of the screen. From there you can toggle layers on and off.

  • There is a link to make the map full-screen at the top of the page.