Data Visualization Shows How Segregated Our Cities Are

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The University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service has assembled a map that shows just how segregated out cities can be. The results can be used to help understand how racial problems affect communities and authorities.

The map pulls its data from the 2010 Census, and displays 308,745,538 individual dots, each color coded by ethnicity. The resulting visualization shows just how stark racial boundaries are throughout the United States. Additionally, it shows the geographical spread of the entire US population by race. Predominantly, racial groups are concentrated within cities, while fewer groups are present throughout rural America.


Zooming in on this map is enlightening: as you zoom in on major cities, a complicated picture appears showing the mix of ethnicities resolves down to a cencus block level. For more on their methodology, you can stop by their website, where they explain how the map came together.

National Geographic provided some additional commentary:

Some American cities, primarily those on the East Coast, show an almost binary level of segregation between white and black. Sometimes—for example, in Detroit—that split can be seen along a single street. In Washington, D.C., the upper-income quadrant known as Northwest has historically been predominantly white while the adjacent quadrant, Northeast, remains mostly black. Cities on the West Coast appear generally more integrated, owing in large part to alternate patterns of settlement, racial history, and economic growth.


Zoom in on your own hometown: does it match up with what you expected?