environmental racism, planning, construction, North River Water Pollution Control Plant in West Harlem


This Essay discusses one example of environmental racism in New York City – the planning and construction of the North River Water Pollution Control Plant in West Harlem. This case study of the West Harlem community depicts how race-based land use planning and environmental policy-making transformed West Harlem, one of this city’s most beautiful communities, into a giant dumping ground. Since 1968, the North River Water Pollution Control Plant has irritated the residents of West Harlem. Initially, countless public hearings and community meetings were held to address why this facility was being built in this community. After the Plant was built, West Harlem residents questioned why the Plant functioned as a major source of air pollution in their community. This Essay traces the political and economic framework of New York City’s land use and planning processes for North River, discusses how issues of race and socioeconomic status are integral elements in this process, and examines one community’s actions against environmental racism.



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