Gallery Projects , , , ,

Mapping Racial Capitalism: Gentrification and Legacies of Redlining in New York City

Nerve V. Macaspac
College of Staten Island, The City University of New York

Gallery Project Statement

What are the geographies of racial capitalism? How can mapping and integrating the historical data of redlining with the contemporary patterns of gentrification reveal the spatiality of racial capitalism? In New York City, Amazon’s plan of building a second headquarters in Long Island City (LIC), supported by $3 billion tax incentives offered by the state government, was widely opposed by community groups and select city officials and was eventually canceled. Had the plan pushed through, the proposed Amazon HQ2 would have been constructed under a 99-year net lease on Vernon Blvd. in LIC ( Services, Inc. 2018) and would be within formerly redlined neighborhoods. AmazonHQ2 also would have been one of at least 75 new constructions of mixed-use buildings and luxury rentals within redlined neighborhoods in LIC. At the height of the #NoAmazonHQ2 grassroots campaign in 2018 and 2019, this project mapped the geographies of redlining in LIC in the 1930s (Nelson, et al. 2019) and integrated the data with real estate redevelopment and building constructions between 2008 and 2018. Through Geographic Information Systems (GIS), these maps illustrate the spatial patterns that reveal how redlining and gentrification are corollary to the broader processes of racial capitalism. At stake in this project is a better understanding of the structural, material and spatial features of racial capitalism, particularly in the context of post-recession gentrification driven by state-corporate partnerships (Smith and Hackworth 2002; Hackworth 20002) and the “real estate state” (Stein 2019). Further, this project contributes to our understanding of the ways in which gentrification are rooted upon the revanchist policies of both state and market toward working class people (Smith 1996), the devaluation of Black and Brown lives and futures under capitalism (Robinson 2000), and the ongoing cycle of racial banishment in cities (Roy 2017).

Citations and Works Cited Services, Inc. 2018. Long Island City Development Project, last accessed September 1, 2019,

Hackworth, Jason and Neil Smith. 2002. “The changing state of gentrification,” Journal of Economic and Social Geography 92(4), 464-477.

Nelson, Robert K., LaDale Winling, Richard Marciano, Nathan Connolly, et al., “Mapping Inequality,” American Panorama, ed. Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers, last accessed September 1, 2019, #loc=13/40.736/-73.949&city=queens-ny 

Robinson, Cedric. 2000. Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina.

Roy, Ananya. 2017. “Dis/possessive collectivism: Property and personhood at city’s end,” Geoforum, last accessed September 1, 2019,  

Smith, Neil. 1996. The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City. London: Routledge.
Stein, Samuel. 2019. Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate State. New York: Verso.