America’s laws against lingering have roots in Medieval and Elizabethan England. Since 1342, the goal has always been to keep anyone “out of place” away.

Editor’s note: A series of racially charged incidents of “loitering” have triggered national outrage recently. This month, CityLab's visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger dives into the long history of laws against being somewhere you’re not wanted.

Further Reading:

  • “Vagrancy Laws and the 1960s,” C-SPAN
  • “The Forgotten Law That Gave Police Nearly Unlimited Power,” Time
  • “Racial Profiling via Nextdoor.com,” East Bay Express
  • “The Yes Loitering Project Ask Kids of Color to Rethink Public Space,” Fast Company
  • “#WhyLoiter Reclaims Public—and Inner—Space for Indian Women,” PRI
  • “Black Women vs. White Men in Public Spaces: Crosswalk Experiment and Relevance,” Girl with Pen
  • “How Punitive and Racist Policing Enforces Gentrification in San Francisco,” Truthout
  • “The Criminalization of Gentrifying Neighborhoods,” The Atlantic

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a man surveying a home garage.
    Transportation

    How Single-Family Garages Can Ease California's Housing Crisis

    Given the affordable housing crisis, California cities should encourage single-family homeowners to convert garages into apartments and accessory dwelling units.

  2. Transportation

    Electric Scooters Aren’t a Transportation Revolution Yet

    New data show a staggering rise in shared dockless e-scooter use nationwide. But commuting habits have seen little change since the dawn of micromobility.

  3. Life

    Who’s Really Buying Property in San Francisco?

    A lot of software developers, according to an unprecedented new analysis.

  4. Equity

    The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed

    Manhattan’s new luxury mega-project was partially bankrolled by an investor visa program called EB-5, which was meant to help poverty-stricken areas.

  5. Design

    The Many Lives of Notre-Dame

    Far from being a single author’s definitive text, the beloved cathedral’s history is a palimpsest.