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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

Skagit County restricted subdivisions

These maps show neighborhoods where racial restrictive covenants were imposed in the decades when they were legal. Most restrictions in Skagit County date from the 1930 to 1954 and covered a large percentage of subdivisions developed in that period. We have identified more than 500 properties in 26 subdivisions. Do not assume that areas without circles were unrestricted. Neighborhoods without covenants often practiced racial exclusion by other means. And the practice extended throughout the county. In 1940, Skagit's population of 37,650 included only 37 Black people and 713 Asian and Indigenous Americans. Thirty years later little had changed. The population remained 98% White with only 45 Black residents, 316 Asian and Pacific Islanders, and 650 Indigenous Americans living on or near the county's three reservations. Here we highlight subdivisions. For a more complete view of individual properties go to our Skagit parcels map


Explanatory notes:

These are preliminary findings and subject to revision. We are still adding and confirming data. Research and data entry by Sophia Dowling, Erin Miller, and Samantha Cutts. Maps by James Gregory.

Data caveat: On the map above, do not assume that areas without circles were not restricted. Restrictive covenants were only one of the mechanisms of segregation. Neighborhoods without covenants often practiced racial exclusion by other means.

There is a logic to the geography. Areas platted (subdivided) between 1925 and 1948 were most likely to be restricted. Realtors and developers wrote racial exclusions into the initial documents subdividing a future neighborhood. All properties in the subdivision were thus legally restricted. It was more complicated to restrict older areas. Neighborhood associations sometimes organized petition drives and convinced white homeowners to add racial restriction clauses to their properties.

Look at the language of restriction in these deeds. Some specify that neighborhoods are reserved for "Whites," while others enumerate the prohibited racial groups. And the wording is curious. In the terminology of the 1920s-1940s "Hebrews" meant Jews; "Ethiopians" meant African ancestry; "Malays" meant Filipinos; "Mongolians" meant all east Asians; "Hindus" meant all south Asians.