The 10 most segregated US cities visualized with GIS

Main city population: 3,792,62
Metropolitan population: 12,828,837
Segregation level (dissimilarity): 67.84

Salon wrote an interesting article a few years ago about modern segregation, and they used GIS to help readers visualize the separation of race in urban areas. What I found interesting about the data is that there is not a single southern US city in the top 10 most segregated American cities. During the majority of the 20th century, the southern United States was considered the region with the most racism and segregation, and rightly so. The citizens and politicians of many southern states were largely opposed to legislation that would give minorities more rights, whereas citizens and politicians of northern states were much more progressive and willing to give civil rights to all citizens. Even now, I think many Americans share the opinion that the south is still behind the rest of the nation as far as racism goes.

Even though the maps show segregation, it’s not anything like the segregation of the early 20th century, where certain races were forced to live in a particular area. I think it’s likely that some of these groups choose to live among those similar to them. For example, hispanics who are new to the US would probably feel much more comfortable living near those who they can communicate with and relate to. It would be much more difficult to start a new life in a new country if you felt totally isolated.

Los Angeles is the 10th most segregated city in the US, according to 2010 census data. You’ll see in the graphic above that hispanics tend to live in one area, while asians and blacks largely group together as well. Segregated communities are much more rampant in the nine following graphics, all of which are located in the northern United States.

9. Philadelphia, PA

Main city population: 1,526,006
Metropolitan population: 5,965,343
Segregation level (dissimilarity): 68.41

8. Cincinnati, OH

Main city population: 296,943
Metropolitan population: 2,130,151
Segregation level (dissimilarity): 69.42

7. St. Louis, MO

Main city population: 319,294
Metropolitan population: 2,812,896
Segregation level (dissimilarity):72.3

6. Buffalo, NY

Main city population: 261,310
Metropolitan population: 1,135,509
Segregation level (dissimilarity): 73.24

5. Cleveland, OH

Main city population: 396,815
Metropolitan population: 2,077,240
Segregation level (dissimilarity): 74.14

4. Detroit, MI

Main city population: 713,777
Metropolitan population: 4,296,250
Segregation level (dissimilarity): 75.25

3. Chicago, IL

Main city population: 2,695,598
Metropolitan population: 9,461,105
Segregation level (dissimilarity): 76.43

2. New York

Main city population: 8,175,133
Metropolitan population: 18,897,109
Segregation level (dissimilarity): 78.04

1. Milwaukee, WI

Main city population: 594,833
Metropolitan population: 1,555,908
Segregation level (dissimilarity): 81.52

After seeing how badly Los Angeles was segregated, I didn’t think it could get as bad as Milwaukee. Blacks are incredibly highly concentrated in one area of this Wisconsin city, as are hispanics. Whites make up at least 85.1% in both Washington and Ozaukee counties, and Waukesha county is almost that high.

All data and info from Salon

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6 thoughts on “The 10 most segregated US cities visualized with GIS

  1. Pingback: The 10 Most Segregated U.S. Cities Visualized with GIS | Informed Infrastructure

  2. Our team at the CUNY Graduate Center created similar maps about two years ago, using an interactive format so you can visualize change from 2000 to 2010. We used Census blocks, so the patterns are very fine-grained. (I couldn’t tell if your maps used tracts or something else.) We also prepared several detailed analyses of the changes in the New York metro area. Here are the links:
    – interactive maps: http://www.urbanresearchmaps.org/comparinator/pluralitymap.htm
    – NYC overview: http://www.urbanresearchmaps.org/plurality/
    – changing segregation patterns: http://www.urbanresearch.org/projects/hardly-the-end-of-segregation

  3. Pingback: Some of My Best Friends Are White |

  4. Pingback: MLK’s History and Influence in Chicago

  5. Pingback: Rate how other East Coast Cities stack up to NYC - Page 3 - City-Data Forum

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