About the Collection

This collection consists of ten maps that were produced in conjunction with the preparation of the City of Charleston’s 1931 Report of the City Planning and Zoning Commission Upon a Program for the Development of a City Plan with Specific Studies of Certain Features Thereof. The report, prepared by Morris Knowles, Inc., paved the way for the City’s first comprehensive zoning ordinance. The zoning ordinance established the Old and Historic District, the first historic district protected by local legislation in the United States. The ordinance also established parameters for the preservation and protection of the City’s historic buildings and neighborhoods, and it paved the way for the creation of the Board of Architectural Review (BAR), a municipal board empowered with approving or denying architectural changes in the Old and Historic District. 

 

In 1917, the United States Supreme Court in Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U.S. 60, held that racial zoning was unconstitutional. Nonetheless, the 1931 report and accompanying maps provide evidence that the City relied on race-based planning recommendations that ultimately led to practices such as redlining and urban displacement of black communities. 

 

The maps are all quite large, measuring 47” by 63” on average, and were most likely intended for presentation and display at meetings. The City holds two of the maps printed in the body of the report; a third map is printed in the report, but the City does not have a copy. The other eight maps were not specifically cited in the report but would have been utilized as the City undertook the report’s recommendations. 

 

The 1931 report has been digitized by the Charleston Library Society.

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