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Many people know about the destruction of neighborhoods in big cities like Detroit and Chicago that happened in the name of “Urban Renewal” during the 1950s and 1960s. Did you know that Ypsilanti experienced something very similar? Historian Lee Azus, a former YDL presenter, returns with us in this episode to talk about the history of Ypsilanti’s urban renewal program.

Lee Azus is an Ypsilanti-based architectural historian with an interest in twentieth-century American housing policy and its relation to racialized capitalism. His work focuses on housing, race, and the built environment. In 2016 he delivered a presentation at YDL on how racism in twentieth-century American housing policy shaped Ypsilanti, using images to retraces the forty-year controversial history of the Urban Renewal program in Ypsilanti’s Southside.

Ypsilanti Historical archivesoverhead view of Ypsilanti

From the Ypsilanti Historical Archives

Protest in front of Ypsilanti Urban Renewal office, 811 Madison. Ann Arbor News May 27, 1961. From Ann Arbor District Library newspapers collections.

Protest in front of Ypsilanti Urban Renewal office, 811 Madison. Ann Arbor News May 27, 1961. From Ann Arbor District Library newspapers collections.

495 Madison. Demolished 1970. From Ypsilanti City Hall, Department of Urban Renewal files.

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