Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Thomas Kim

Reader 2

Juan Moreno


This thesis explores the relationship between federal redlining policy and the siting of air polluting facilities, using a dual approach of geospatial analysis and historiography on Philadelphia as a case study. Geographic Information System (GIS) tools are applied to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data on air polluting facilities and the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) Residential Security Maps. This analysis is used to determine the number of facilities within redlined neighborhoods and their patterns of density. Findings suggest that higher concentrations of polluting facilities are present in those neighborhoods ranked lowest by the HOLC, while neighborhoods ranked highest show remarkably fewer facilities. Historiography is then used to assess the processes of industrial and residential development over time, and determine connections between redlining and shifting land use patterns in Philadelphia. Overall, historiography reveals that redlining reaffirmed pre-existing socio-spatial patterns, and served to advance processes of disinvestment in redlined neighborhoods and the concentration of polluting facilities in these regions. The work of this paper indicates that both formal and informal practices around redlining contributed to stigmatization of lowest ranked neighborhoods, and suggests a proximate relationship between marginalized communities and sources of pollution.