Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Studies

Committee Director

Mohamad G. Alkadry

Committee Member

Thomas E. Chapman

Committee Member

Berhanu Mengistu


This study seeks to test Hirsch's second ghetto thesis in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. Hirsch suggested that the role of government, public policies, and administrative discretion were responsible for the re-segregation of African Americans into second ghetto communities in Chicago. Many scholars have used Hirsch's framework to explain ghetto formation. This investigation seeks to extend the literature in several ways. First, several national policies were investigated to determine their impact on African American mobility in Baltimore: the Housing Act of 1937 (public housing), the Housing Act of 1949 (urban renewal), and the Interstate Highway Act of 1956 (transportation). Second, Baltimore officials were specifically highlighted as facilitators of second ghetto development based on the unprecedented discretion devolved from the above public policies. Third, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology was used to underscore the spatial and temporal parameters of urban African American mobility based on the public policy decisions of local administrators.

Historical data (e.g. census reports, city ordinances, and local newspapers) were gathered to produce a timeline of events in Baltimore from 1850–2010. GIS was used to produce a series of maps (e.g. 1940–2000), which specifically identify the location of public housing facilities, urban renewal projects, and highway routes in relation to African American neighborhoods. Both sources were used to tract African American mobility based on the specific policy decisions at the federal and local levels. Consequently, longitudinal analysis allowed for African American mobility changes to be tracked over time. The findings of this study have implications with regard to the effects of administrative discretion and the impact of public policy outcomes on vulnerable populations.