Martha Park is a writer and illustrator from Memphis, Tennessee. Her work has appeared in Guernica, Granta, Ecotone Magazine, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.
An illustrated history of urban renewal in Roanoke, Virginia.
Editor’s note: Last July, Martha Park wrote about the Dumas Hotel, a revered building in Roanoke, Virginia, with an uncertain future. The hotel appeared in the The Negro Motorist Green Book from 1936 to 1967 and survived the city’s sweeping urban renewal efforts from the same period.
Today, downtown is thriving. But on the other side of the train tracks, residents in historically black Gainsboro—where the Dumas Hotel still stands—aren’t so sure they’ll benefit from the boom.
Below, Park retells the story of Northeast Roanoke’s urban renewal, the scars it left behind, and what today’s residents are bracing themselves for next.
- “Street by Street, Block by Block: How Urban Renewal Uprooted Black Roanoke,” by Mary Bishop. The Roanoke Times, 1995
- Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, And What We Can Do About It, Mindy Thompson Fullilove, MD. New Village Press, 2004
- “Roanoke’s Redevelopment Faces Tough Sledding,” by Francis H. Mitchell, New Journal and Guide, 1955