Photos: 60 Streets Called Martin Luther King

A photo series documents some of the many different U.S. streets named to honor MLK.

2 minute read

June 12, 2016, 1:00 PM PDT

By Elana Eden

Martin Luther King Jr

Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Atlanta. | Katherine Welles / Shutterstock

CityLab shares selections from photographer Susan Berger, who set out to capture some of the 900+ streets in the United States named for Martin Luther King, Jr.

Berger reflects on the differences she noticed in the upkeep and centrality of those streets from city to city.

For instance:

Berger made a point to visit those cities most closely associated with the Civil Rights movements. In some of those places, the placement of MLK streets testifies to his enduring local significance. In Little Rock, Martin Luther King Dr. runs right up against the state capitol buildings; in Atlanta, it’s a long street that cuts through the entire swath of the city, from government buildings to residential neighborhoods, intersecting a range of socioeconomic levels.

But research has also shown that streets named for MLK tend to be associated with "lower incomes and higher rates of racial segregation than city-wide and national norms":

Some of Berger’s photographs, like those she took in Houston, Texas, reflect this truth in broken chain-link fences and abandoned parking lots. In these neighborhoods, the MLK-named streets serve as a reminder of the man himself, and all that he did and dreamed of. “At the same time, though, you look at the neighborhood and say: what has been accomplished? To what extent had that dream been realized?” Berger says.

Over the years, there have been efforts by non-profits to revitalize those streets; the city of Atlanta also recently took steps to transform its MLK Drive.

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