The Arsenal of Exclusion

Cities exist to bring people together, but cities can also keep people apart” — Daniel D’Oca, Urban Planner, Interboro Partners.

Cities are great. They have movement, activity and diversity. But go to any city and it’s pretty clear, a place can be diverse without really being integrated. This segregation isn’t accidental. There are design elements in the urban landscape, that Daniel D’Oca calls “weapons,” that are used by “architects, planners, policy-makers, developers, real estate brokers, community activists, neighborhood associations, and individuals to wage the ongoing war between integration and segregation.”

Daniel D’Oca is an urban planner with Interboro Partners, an architecture and design firm based in New York City. Over the past few years, D’Oca, along with colleagues Tobias Armborst and Georgeen Theodore have been cataloging all the stuff inside of a city that planners use to increase or restrict people’s access to space. They’re publishing their findings in a book called The Arsenal of Inclusion and Exclusion: 101 Things That Open And Close the City (Fall 2012).

D’Oca took our own Sam Greenspan and Scott Goldberg on a tour of Baltimore to demonstrate the subtle ways different neighborhoods are kept apart.

Interboro Partners described more weapons in the Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion in a great Esquire article.

Daniel D’Oca shows Sam Greenspan the iron fence at the site of the former Hollander Ridge housing project on the Baltimore County line. Credit: Scott Goldberg
The residential parking permit zones on either side of Greenmount Ave. Permit only parking keeps non-residents, including students from nearby Johns Hopkins, from leaving their cars in the neighborhood.

Comments (10)


  1. Suspended Disbelief

    Really love this episode. Could also be hijacked by a new school of New-Left / Neo-Marxist, Environmental Criminology!

  2. Ryan B

    This is my life! I live in Waverly south of 33rd, and I work to the northwest at the edge of Govanstowne and Homeland. It’s less than a three mile commute, but the only unbroken path is Greenmount, which becomes York Rd. At that point It is a major north-south road, 5 lanes wide, and used by several bus routes, in short it is not bicycle friendly. I have been trying to map a route on the more bike friendly side streets, but due to the one-way streets, and broken grids mentioned, which actually exist on both sides north of where Greenmount becomes York, it has proven impossible. These barriers may seem invisible when you navigate this area in a car, but when you experience them as a pedestrian or cyclist they are immediately palpable. This of course is another weapon in this arsenal as the ability to own a car, much like the ability to live in Guilford as opposed to Waverly is more than anything determined by income.

  3. Chad O'Connor

    A fascinating concept, but I’d love to hear a follow-up to this episode discussing other city’s urban planning. For instance William Penn and Chief Surveyor Thomas Holme developed the Fairmount Park system and five main squares in Philadelphia that meant to overcome physical and cultural boundaries between the city’s residents. Does this actually function as they dreamed? Or are there still invisible walls present that some people use to promote a barrier between rich and poor?

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