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017 Riis' color maps
 

Foundations of America

QU201 Prof. Scott Leone

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Home Ragtime Articles of Interest 017 Riis' color maps

017 Riis' color maps



"Riis made color maps of Manhattan's ethnic populations.  Dull gray was for Jews... Red was for the swarthy Italian. Blue for the thrifty German. Black for the African. Green for the Irishmen.  And yellow for the cat-clean Chinamen... " (17).

Many of the main characters were primarily set in the New York City area from 1900-1917, and with the heavy tensions that grew between different ethnic groups, the population of immigrants grew massively.


"The first major scientific model was created in 18th century when Carlos Linnaeus recognized four main races: Europeanus which he labelled the white race, Asiatic, which he labelled the yellow race, Americanus, which he labelled the red race, and Africanus, which he labelled the black race". 

Riis color map represented a distinction for each race, an example of one of the 'first major scientific model' of racial discrimination.  18th century scientific models distinguished the Caucasian race as racial purity--labelled as white, and Jews as impure dirty whites--labelled as gray.  The color green represented "shamrocks--a symbol of Ireland". 

The whites resented the heavy population of immigrants and were strongly patriotic to their country. Riis color map represented the heavy inflow of immigrants in America during the time and proves to symbolize the racial tension within the Ragtime era.  America was becoming a popular nation as tensions in Europe developed and World War I approached. 


Sources:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkingsf/4981444199/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_terminology_for_race
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_green#Shamrock_green
Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow

Last Updated on Sunday, 18 September 2011 16:10  

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