Wednesday, February 23, 2022

The Interactive Map of Sundown Towns

In the United States some neighborhoods and towns have traditionally managed to largely exclude non-white residents. These areas have managed to enforce racial segregation through either intimidation or discriminatory local laws, or a combination of both. These largely white municipalities are often known as sundown towns, so called because of the practice of posting signs ordering "colored people" to leave town by sundown.

The Sundown Towns interactive map uses the Sundown Towns Database to show the distribution and location of sundown towns across the United States. On the map towns are shown using different colors, which indicate the 'confirmation status' of each town shown (ranging from 'possible' to 'surely'). If you select a town on the map you can then view its entry in the Sundown Towns Database. This entry includes information on the methods that have been used to exclude black residents and census records showing the white, black, Asian and Hispanic populations in the town from 1860 to the present. 

The Sundown Towns Database does not claim to be a complete record of all sundown towns in the USA. In fact the database comes with a note which states that there are "too many sundown towns for us to have found them all". Which is why users are actively encouraged to submit information about towns not in the database and to submit comments on those towns which are in the database. 

You may also be interested in exploring interactive maps exploring the enduring legacy of Redlining Maps on the racial distribution of American towns and cities.

7 comments:

Tuomo Repetti said...

Longmont, CO, where I live, is listed in the database, but the entry for the town has no, zero, information, other than the comment that "Longmont, CO, has joined The Inclusive Communities Partnership of the National League of Cities" and the statement that Longmont is "surely not" still a sundown town.

I have no evidence either way, but if you're going to list a town in the database, I'd think you should have SOMETHING to go on.

Anonymous said...

Love the map concept. Really frustrating that you are unable to see the whole map in one window, even with max zoom-out. Also, can’t close or minimize the key, which covers a large block of the map at all times.

Anonymous said...

Agree the map is kind of worthless. I was surprised by the number of northern Wisconsin towns and cities listed. Seems the criteria was a small black population in past census assumes that is due to "sunset laws" but with no proof whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

The Klan was started in Indiana so no surprises with the distribution of red dots. However, ALL of the towns in Vermillion, Vigo (Terre Haute), and Parke counties should be on this map. Unfortunately, I grew up in this area.

Anonymous said...

Longmont definitely not a “sundown town” even though majority white and Hispanic. There is a restriction against spending the night in your car but that’s unrelated.

Anonymous said...

Your map link has an extra h at the beginning of the address, resulting in an error when you click on it.

Keir Clarke said...

@anonymous Thanks! Now fixed.