Historic Preservation

Greg Donofrio | Human Toll: Accounting For Damage Wrought by Freeways in the Twin Cities

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 5:30pm
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Virtual Q&A with Dr. Greg Donofrio; Human Toll: Accounting For and Repairing the Damage Wrought by Freeways in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. Motorists do not see the injustices of freeways as they drive through a city. The construction of interstate highways in Minneapolis and St. Paul destroyed and divided Black communities, while white communities reaped the benefits, a pattern played out in cities across the United States. Fifty years later, the effects of this history are clear: today, Minneapolis has the greatest racial housing gap in the nation; freeways continue to be racial dividing lines; and people of color disproportionately suffer the health impacts of freeway construction and use. In this talk, Greg Donofrio shares how new research that centers the experiences of residents displaced and affected by this history is contributing to the work of activists and community organizations leading the charge to remove and redesign freeways throughout the Twin Cities.

Greg Donofrio is Associate Professor of historic preservation and public history in the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota, where he directs the Heritage Studies and Public History graduate program. For the past three years he has co-directed A Public History of 35W, a community-collaborative oral history and research project on interstate 35W in South Minneapolis.

Cost: $5 (free for students). Registration Required 


In 2022 The Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania's Weitzman School of Design will partner with The Carpenters’ Company and various other organizations on a series of programs and events that explore the intersection of historic preservation and urban planning/renewal through the lens of equity and social justice, the initiative is called “Changing the Face of the City”. Human Toll: Accounting For and Repairing the Damage Wrought by Freeways in Minnesota’s Twin Cities is the first event in that series. 

“Changing the Face of the City” was the phrase renowned urban planner Edmund Bacon used to describe Philadelphia’s renaissance in his classic 1967 book Design of Cities, unintentionally alluding to the literal consequences of many preservation, planning, and renewal efforts. These are typically framed with aspirations of positive goals and motives but have often reinforced or amplified racial or class divides, deepening our nation’s inequities and injustices. These programs are meant to engage the academic community, the building professions and the general public and benefit from partnerships with many relevant community organizations. This series specifically features both virtual and on-site programming as we navigate the COVID19 pandemic.

Our sincere thanks to the The Carpenters’ Company and the National Endowment for the Humanities for making this series possible. And to our partners, the Philadelphia Black History Collaborative.