Rebecca Walker Study: Discriminatory Housing Policies Created an Unequal Park System in Minneapolis
March 20, 2023

New research led by Humphrey School PhD candidate Rebecca Walker sheds light on the origins of racial disparities in the Minneapolis park system and their long-lasting consequences for environmental justice in the city.

Walker is lead author of the study, “Making the City of Lakes: Whiteness, Nature, and Urban Development in Minneapolis,” which was published recently in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers. 

Walker and her team drew on maps from the U of M Libraries Mapping Prejudice Project, including a map of properties with racial covenants — clauses included in property deeds that prevented sale to anyone considered not white — to uncover the intertwined history of racial housing segregation and Minneapolis’s park system.

"This research shows that disparities in the Minneapolis park system weren’t an accident — parks, race, and real estate have always been deeply intertwined,” said Walker.

Co-authors are Associate Professor Bonnie Keeler; and Assistant Professor Kate Derickson and postdoctoral researcher Hannah Ramer, both in the geography department in the College of Liberal Arts.  

The project was supported by the National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research, Minneapolis-St. Paul.