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Keywords:

  • environmental justice;
  • residential segregation;
  • urban housing;
  • U.S. South

ABSTRACT. This study examines altitudinal residential segregation by race in 146 cities in the U.S. South. It begins by embedding the topic in recent theorizations of the social construction of nature, the geography of race, and environmental justice. Second, it focuses on how housing markets, particularly in the South, tend to segregate minorities in low-lying, flood-prone, and amenity-poor segments of urban areas. It tests empirically the hypothesis that blacks are disproportionately concentrated in lower-altitude areas using gis to correlate race and elevation by digital elevation-model block group within each city in 1990 and 2000. The statistical results confirm the suspected trend. A map of coefficients indicates strong positive associations in cities in the interior South-where the hypothesis is confirmed-and an inverse relationship near the coast, where whites dominate higher-valued coastal properties. Selected city case studies demonstrate these relationships connecting the broad dynamics of racial segregation to the particularities of individual places.