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Infographics of the Day: How Segregated Is Your City?

Every city is integrated (and segregated) in unique ways.

Recently, cartographer Bill Rankin produced an astounding map of Chicago, which managed to show the city's areas of racial integration.

Eric Fischer saw those maps, and took it upon himself to create similar ones for the top 40 cities in the United States. Fisher used a straight forward method borrowed from Rankin: Using U.S. Census data from 2000, he created a map where one dot equals 25 people. The dots are then color-coded based on race: White is pink; Black is blue; Hispanic is orange, and Asian is green.

The results for various cities are fascinating: Just like every city is different, every city is integrated (or segregated) in different ways.

Washington, D.C., for example, has a stark east/west divide between white and black:

Detroit, meanwhile, is marked by the infamous Eight Mile beltway, which serves a precise boundary for the city's black and white populations. Integration is almost non existent:

However, other cities present better pictures of racial integration. The San Francisco Bay, for example. While the northern part San Francisco proper is very, very white while the other parts are relatively segregated, the outlying bay communities such as Oakland have fascinating patches of integration — perhaps partly because in those areas no one minority totally dominates:

That's not the case with New York, however: There are ultra-dense areas of extreme racial concentration. But the sheer number of people in those areas means that the boundary areas become intensely rich areas of cross-cultural ferment:

L.A., meanwhile, is sort of the opposite. Because no part of the city is particularly dense, you get blended neighborhoods which are at times larger than the racially homogeneous ones:

Meanwhile, here's what San Antonio looks like — a city which demographers and political scientists often point to as the future of the post-race Southwest, where whites and Hispanics live together without boundaries. While you can see there's a predominance of Hispanics near the city center, you can also see that Hispanics are fairly evenly integrated throughout the rest of the city — there's really no such thing as a rich, whites-only enclave (the large version in particular bears this out):

Fascinating, right? Originally, Rankin created the mapping methodology because he was frustrated with the way racial boundaries continue to be mapped. Usually, ethnic neighborhoods are shown as homogeneous, sharply bounded swathes of color. But obviously, living in a city tells a much different story — and the nature of the boundary areas are at least as important to the identity of any city as the so-called ethnic centers.

[H/T: Datapointed via Flowing Data]

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  • Charley

    In the US census data, hispanic isn't a race... it's an ethnicity.  I think you have to go back to the 1990 census to get census data that has hispanic as a race.

  • Elena

    This is very interesting, but I wonder if someone could tell me: Is there any city in US where all people lives together without racism. I have a black grandson and I wish him not to suffer for this cruel  thing

  • bradzuk

    nope! sorry! But i would definitely say classism is the bigger story in america. Race is just an indicator of our preconceived personality stereotypes. But its pretty obvious that those characteristics, which hold groups of people apart, are far more class based than race based. Race only manages to be an indicator because it's pretty well correlated with class and its immediately obvious. I live in the east bay, which - as you can see - is fairly integrated, and this statement clearly holds there. Maybe less true for chicago...

  • Jaz

    Unfortunately, that's impossible. Read Sundown Towns by James W. Loewen and see how this nonsense really began. I'm reading this book myself and it's disgusting how one race acts against another.

  • molten_tofu

    Posted this over at Flowing Data, too. I love this stuff!!!!

    These are beautiful maps. Here is another mapping of the same info (and in addition, other census variables besides ethnicities): –> Web/Mapping –> Nation-wide Census Maps

    The databases behind the maps are slow, and the interface is only in its second iteration – I blame my day job :-)