The Construction of 94 and the Deconstruction of the People


With the America on an uproar came many advancements to society as well as development of technology. When vehicles emerged from the human species, it has always been necessary to build roads for travel. Roads are not natural to mother nature, it is  a path carved into the surface of Earth, a sign that humankind has reached new territory or embarked onto new land. As America began to grow with the industrial age, more and more cars were manufactured and with it came the need for the ability to travel, making what we have today as a fast-paced society. Highways have become the primary routes for transportation in our ever growing society but it is always important to be mindful of who they serve and who they are destroying.

The construction of highway 94 has caused the devastating destruction of many schools, businesses, as well as homes. The proposed highway was proposed to be the link between the neighboring major cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul. The problem was that the team that proposed the design of the highway did not consider the people and the properties that were going to be facing a huge deficit.

Thousands of African Americans lost their homes due to the placement of the highway. Highway 94 was placed right through the heart of the Rondo neighborhood, displacing many people from their homes. Many were offered a portion of their properties worth and many were scared off with harassment from officials. It came appearant that the design team viewed the area and it’s people as a meaningless part of society. Rather than taking time to reach out to the public about thoughts and opinions, the media kept the project behind the shadows to avoid any uproar. It was only when it was too late to react to the situation that many found out that where they stood would turn into millions of pounds of cement.

In the 1930s, Rondo Avenue was at the heart of St. Paul’s largest African American neighborhood that was displaced in the 1960s by freeway construction. African Americans whose families had lived in Minnesota for decades and others who were just arriving from the South made up a vibrant, vital community that was in many ways independent of the white society around it. The construction of I-94 shattered this tight-knit community, displaced thousands of African Americans into a racially segregated city and a discriminatory housing market, and erased a now-legendary neighborhood. While the construction of I-94 radically changed the landscape of the neighborhood, the community of Rondo still exists and its persistence and growth are celebrated through events like Rondo Days and the Jazz Festival.


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