Madison, Wisconsin: Street names and slavery

A map of downtown Madison with the streets named after slave owners and abolitionists marked

(Click for full size)

Many downtown Madison streets are named for signers of the Declaration of Independence. As most of those signers owned or traded slaves, I thought it might be interesting to paint over the map. I've highlighted streets named for people who owned people, and streets named for the few abolitionists.

I marked the location of our jail (where someone died on Friday, February 23) to remind folks about how linked our current disparities are to history. Almost 60% of the people in our jail are Black, in a county that is less than 7% Black. There are structural reasons for this. Check my series of articles for more details on our modern punishment systems.

I did research the founders in multiple sources, but it was not exhaustive and I am decidedly not an expert or historian. I also don't know how to do interactive map layers with OpenStreetMap, where I sourced the original map layer; that might be a fun project down the line.

slaver_map.svg source file

A project made during Black History Month, February 2024.