How A Neighborhood is Made

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For The Towner, Chantal Clarke muses on the in-betweenness of her childhood home of Pelham, New York and “the day-to-day policing of boundaries” that make up the seedy work of orchestrating a neighborhood—how it was not New York City; not Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx; not a suburb in the vacant, car-dependent sense; and not quite grouped in with the other towns on its elite Metro North route. And how its whiteness was not accidental, but an extension of that boundary-drawing:

The way that trees are deployed in Westchester could be seen as the flipside—or an aesthetic extension—of these racist housing practices: green-lining, if you will. Dense foliage to make clear which areas of the county were for rich white people, concrete for everyone else. Both red-lining and the building of these quaint villages were planned and deeply unnatural; both served to make existing practices seem like an uncontestable part of the landscape.


Theodora Messalas is a New York-based writer and editor who could easily be talked into going to grad school. More from this author →