America's Most Diverse Neighborhoods

This is the first part in a two-part series on America's most diverse neighborhoods. Read part two here.

Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday during the Civil War, in an attempt to restore peace and unity to the United States. In today's diverse America, Thanksgiving remains widely celebrated and crosses religious, racial, and ethnic lines (though some Native Americans consider Thanksgiving a Day of Mourning), with Americans from different regions of the U.S. and different countries around the globe bringing their own traditions to the Thanksgiving table.

This Thanksgiving, we wanted to see which neighborhoods best reflect American diversity. To do so, we identified the country's most diverse neighborhoods and metros using Census data on race and ethnicity. We measured diversity as the share of a metro area's or ZIP code's population in its largest racial or ethnic group: the smaller the share of the largest group, the more diverse the neighborhood is. For instance, an area that is 70 percent white (the largest group), 20 percent black, and 10 percent Asian is less diverse than one that is 60 percent Hispanic (the largest group), 30 percent white, and 10 percent  black. In this example, the second neighborhood is more diverse because the largest group accounts for 60 percent of the population versus 70 percent in the first neighborhood (see note about Census racial and ethnic definitions at end of post).

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America's Most Diverse Metros

Among the 100 largest metros, San Jose is the most diverse. San Jose is 35 percent white (the largest group), 31 percent Asian, 28 percent Hispanic, 3 percent two-or-more races, and 2 percent black. In no other metro does the largest group have a share smaller than 35 percent. New York ranks second, with a population that is 39 percent white, 28 percent Hispanic, 19 percent Black, and 12 percent Asian. Four of the ten most diverse large metros in the U.S. are in California: San Jose, Oakland, Orange County, and San Francisco. Only one "“ New York "“ is in the Northeast, and not one is in the Midwest.

U.S. Metro Percent population in the largest group 1. San Jose, California 35 percent 2. New York, New York 39 percent 3. Oakland, California 40 percent 4. Houston, Texas 40 percent 5. Honolulu, Hawaii 43 percent 6. Fort Lauderdale, Florida 44 percent 7. Orange County, California 44 percent 8. Memphis, Tennessee 46 percent 9. San Francisco, California 46 percent 10. Albuquerque, New Mexico 47 percent

The map below shows the diversity index for counties across America. Diversity is highest in California and Hawaii, as well as much of the South. The least-diverse parts of the country (those with the highest share in the largest group), in contrast, are in New England and parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.  

Among the 100 largest metros, Pittsburgh is the least diverse: it is 87 percent white, 8 percent black, 2 percent Asian, and 1 percent Hispanic. El Paso also stands out as America's least-diverse large metro that is not majority-White: El Paso is 82 percent Hispanic, 13 percent white, and 3 percent black. Hispanics are the majority in Fresno, San Antonio, and Miami as well. In none of the 100 largest metros are Blacks or Asians a majority. The metro with the highest percentage of blacks is Memphis, at 45 percent, and the metro with the highest percentage of Asians is Honolulu, at 43 percent.

America's Most Diverse Neighborhoods

The diversity people experience day-to-day, though, depends on how diverse their neighborhood is. If members of a racial or ethnic group tend to live near each other in specific neighborhoods, even diverse metros could have mostly segregated neighborhoods. So let's turn to diversity within neighborhoods, which we define as ZIP codes.

The most diverse neighborhood in America is the ZIP code 75038. Located just east of the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, this zip code includes the neighborhoods of Broadmoor Hills and Song in Irving, Texas. That zip code is 26 percent Asian, 25 percent black, 23 percent Hispanic, and 23 percent white. The next-most diverse neighborhoods are Queens Village (11428) in the borough of Queens, New York, and San Francisco's Treasure Island (94130).

Rank Zip Code Neighborhood Metro Percent Population in Largest Group 1. 75038 Irving Dallas 25.7 percent 2. 11428 Queens Village New York 26.4 percent 3. 94130 Treasure Island San Francisco 27.2 percent 4. 77407 Lakemont Houston 27.9 percent 5. 96786 Wahiawa Honolulu 28.5 percent 6. 96731 Kahuku Honolulu 28.7 percent 7. 98`78 Rainier View Seattle 28.8 percent 8. 02125 Dorchester Boston 29.1 percent 9. 96707 Kapolei Honolulu 29.2 percent 10. 95834 South Natomas Sacramento 29.2 percent

What do these neighborhoods have in common? Although many, like Queens Village and Dorchester, are within the city limits, they are not the densest, most central, or best-known neighborhoods. None of the top-10 most diverse neighborhoods in the country is a familiar name to out-of-towners. Also, some of the most diverse neighborhoods in America are located in metro areas that aren't especially diverse overall, like Seattle (67 percent white) and Boston (69 percent white).

Expensive neighborhoods aren't very diverse. As blacks and Hispanics have lower incomes, on average, than whites, the neighborhoods with the most expensive housing tend to be largely white: New York's West Village (10014) is 83 percent white, as is Beverly Hills (90210). But so-called "hipster" neighborhoods are somewhat more mixed: Brooklyn's Williamsburg (11211) is 65 percent white and 26 percent Hispanic; Chicago's Wicker Park (60622) is 58 percent white, 29 percent Hispanic, and 7 percent black; San Francisco's Mission District (94110) is 42 percent white, 38 percent Hispanic, and 12 percent Asian; and Los Angeles's Silverlake (90026) is 57 percent Hispanic, 21 percent white, and 17 percent Asian.

Finally, while many non-diverse neighborhoods are almost exclusively white, non-white doesn't necessary mean diverse. Chicago's Englewood (60621) and two of Washington DC's Anacostia neighborhoods (20019 and 20020) are at least 95 percent black; Boyle Heights (90023) in Los Angeles and Miami's Hialeah (33012) are at least 95 percent Hispanic; and Monterey Park (91755) in Los Angeles and Flushing (11355) in Queens are both at least 70 percent Asian.