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. Life

    The Cities Where You Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck

    There may be another metro within a day’s drive where the costs of living are a lot lower and salaries go a lot further. Is is worth moving?

  2. Transportation

    An Impressive, Unnecessary, Multi-City Bridge

    The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is little more than propaganda announcing the unity of China and her former colonies, despite their very different historic, legal, and even transportation backgrounds.

  3. Equity

    The Mass Grave Beneath a Texas Suburb

    The recent discovery of bodies of black prison laborers beneath a construction site in Sugar Land, Texas, is forcing the state to confront its difficult history.

  4. This picture shows a few children playing on the swings at a park.
    Design

    How a New Park Fits Detroit’s Plan to Bring Its Neighborhoods Back

    The reuse of over a dozen vacant lots in the Fitzgerald neighborhood illustrates the city’s holistic approach to redevelopment outside of downtown.

  5. Transportation

    The $1.4 Billion Transit Fund the U.S. Government Won’t Release

    From El Paso to Minneapolis, local rail and bus projects are waiting on federal money that should have arrived by now.