Documenting Urban Segregation

During my visit to Princeton 8 years ago I was struck by how central questions of race and ethnicity were in U.S. social sciences. Segregation remains one of the major legacies of U.S. history. Research has shown that integrated and diverse cities fare better in a number of dimensions — yet the evidence presented below suggests that cities remain heavily segregated.

Today I am releasing a set of new interactive maps for the top 20 most populated metropolitan statistical areas of the United States. The remaining 330 metro areas will come online soon. These maps allow a web user to click on the name of a metropolitan area to see the racial make-up of neighborhoods.

What makes the data unique is that it is comprehensive, interactive and over the next few months data will go back in time (1970-2010 are in the works).

Census data does have quirks — for instance population in Central Park is non-zero — but it’s the best available data on the topic. I am sure you will find other quirks than Central Park population.

I start today with maps for the fraction of African Americans by census tract.

The maps may take a few seconds to load.

Top 20 Most Populated Metropolitan Areas

New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA – Population 18,502,340 – link

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA – Population 12,617,920 – link

Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI – Population 9,298,407 – link

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX – Population 6,294,195 – link

Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX – Population 5,868,844 – link

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD – Population 5,797,517 – link

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL – Population 5,487,714 – link

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV – Population 5,479,895 – link

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA – Population 5,184,490 – link

Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH – Population 4,392,939 – link

Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI – Population 4,247,606 – link

San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA – Population 4,245,474 – link

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA – Population 4,148,968 – link

Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ – Population 4,113,465 – link

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA – Population 3,374,336 – link

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI – Population 3,215,778 – link

San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA – Population 2,993,347 – link

St. Louis, MO-IL – Population 2,756,664 – link

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL – Population 2,733,998 – link

Baltimore-Towson, MD – Population 2,641,566 – link

Details and Acknowledgments