The urban lowland neighborhoods known as bottoms, hollows, and flats declined after 1940. Highway projects, public housing, zoning, redlining, immigration restrictions, population movements, and changes in transportation combined to remake urban spatial structure. Real estate developers and government agencies built low- and moderate-cost housing complexes on floodplains, especially inland locations and proximate to industrialized waterways, far from the recreational amenities and coastal environments that could be sold as “waterfront property.” The connections between class, race, immigration, and topography continued in new forms. Environmental hazards, social marginalization, and economic polarization in the twenty-first century echo nineteenth century urban problems. In the poorest neighborhoods and skid rows of disinvested and declining cities Americans continue to refer to the worst-off places as “the bottoms.” The long-lasting consequences stemming from the creation and destruction of urban lowland neighborhoods are present in the twenty-first century American city.
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