Many people have an anecdotal sense of what areas in a particular city are predominately black, white, or other ethnicity. Eric Fischer has a more precise sense, creating maps that visually represent segregation in urban areas. Using Census Bureau information and the methodology of cartographer Bill Rankin, who produced a racial map of Chicago, Fischer created maps for each of the forty largest cities in the U.S. Here, for example, is the one for Detroit, one of the most obviously segregated urban areas. White areas are pink, Black ones are blue, Hispanic orange, and Asian green.
- What This Map Contributes to the Discussion This mapping methodology, writes Cliff Kuang, was "originally ...created because [the creator, cartographer Bill Rankin] was frustrated with the way racial boundaries continue to be mapped." How so? "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."
- Don't Judge Too Harshly Jacob Davies at Obsidian Wings finds the maps interesting, but adds: "I don't think there are any other countries with much better integration than the US. Race is a really easy in-/out-group marker..."
- San Francisco Is Pretty Integrated! remarks Cliff Kuang at Fast Company. "While some parts ... are very, very white, large tracts of the outlying bay communities such as Oakland" are much more mixed, "perhaps partly because no one minority totally dominates a single area."
- 'But the Best Real Estate Is White and Asian,' notes Business Insider's Gus Lubin.
- New York: 'Areas of Extreme Racial Concentration,' observes Cliff Kuang. "But the sheer number of people in those areas means that the boundaries become intensely rich areas of cross-cultural ferment." Meanwhile, Good's Andrew Price sees "the incredible density of the city" as "the most salient feature."
- The Fascinating Cases of Boston, Houston, and Vegas "Hispanics live in Somerville, Blacks live in Dorchester, and Whites live everywhere else," says Gus Lubin, commenting on the map of Boston. In Houston, "clear racial divisions fan out from downtown" like pie slices. Meanwhile "Las Vegas is relatively mixed!"
- The Tradeoffs of Mapping Segregation Andrew Price at Good offers parting food for thought:
Here's an interesting question: What do we, as a society, want to see in maps like this? I think it's safe to say that the clear separation of races in Detroit is a symptom (or cause) of serious social problems. At the same time, it seems unrealistic to expect perfect integration and it's unclear if we should want that anyway. It's great that our cities have vibrant ethnic neighborhoods.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.