New maps detail changing neighborhood demographic makeup in major cities

If you want to get a glimpse of a living, breathing city, check out these new maps. The interactive maps show block-by-block changes since 2000 in the racial-ethnic makeup in 10 major urban regions in the U.S., revealing the human ebb and flow of neighborhoods as new groups move in and the prior groups move on. The cities profiled include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Boston, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and San Francisco and their surrounding suburbs.

BRR Network member John Mollenkompf  was part of the team at the the Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center who developed the maps. Steven Romalewski, director of Center’s mapping service, led the effort, working closely with the Center’s data services to compile analyze census data to create the amazing maps. And a special shout-out to David Burgoon, application architect at the Center, and the brain behind the display of the maps.

I spent some time looking at Chicago, since that’s the city I know best. It was fascinating. Zero in on an area or neighborhood in the city, slide the vertical bar to the left, and the map transforms from 2000 to 2010 like an old animation flipbook with the tiny squares of green (Hispanic), blue (whites), orange (blacks) and pink (Asians) representing the population makeup fading and re-populating. Click on a city block and a pop-up table shows the population count change of each demographic group.

I picked an iconic neighborhood, Bridgeport, to see what had transpired in ten years. Bridgeport, home to five of Chicago’s mayors, including the Daleys, is a long-time white Irish, Lithuanian, Italian, and Polish enclave on the city’s near South Side. As venerable Tribune columnist Mike Royko put it in his classic 1971 book, “Boss,” Bridgeport is “a suspicious neighborhood…In the bars, heads turn when a stranger comes in. Blacks pass through inc ars, but are unwise to travel by on foot. When a black college student moved into a flat on Lowe Avenue in 1964, only a block north of the pink bungalow (of the Daleys), there was a riot and he had to leave.”

Today, the neighborhood is still predominantly white, but it has visibly changed as well, with a slightly higher presence of Hispanics (green on the map) and, more frequently, Asians (pink on the map). A block-by-block snapshot tells the story in a more fine-grained way. At 3536 W. Lowe, the address of the Daley family bungalow, the neighborhood block has shifted from 59 whites in 2000 to 58 in 2010; the number of Hispanics dropped from 32 to 13; and the number of Asians grew from zero to 6. Just north a few blocks, the population on a certain block shifted from 60 white to 44 in ten years;the number of Hispanics declined from 18 to 5; and Asians expanded from 39 to 61. The black population remained at 0.

Other interesting transformations track gentrification as it marches west and north of the downtown. Logan Square, for example, faded from green to blue as it lost Hispanic residents as white 20 and 30-something hipsters moved in for the cheaper rents–and along with them the coffee houses, bars specializing in craft beers, and trendy restaurants that dot the neighborhood today. As one tiny snapshot of the population shifts, one block near Milwaukee Avenue and Diversey shifted from 6 whites to 43 in ten years, a 600% increase. Likewise with Humboldt Park further south, with shows encroaching light blue (whites) in a once dominant green (Hispanic) expanse. The white population in one particular block in that neighborhood grew from 6 to 20 while the Hispanic population declined from 83 to 43 individuals, and the black population dropped from 22 to 14.

Similarly striking is the black exodus from the neighborhood just west of the Gold Coast neighborhood hugging the lakefront and downtown as the wrecking balls leveled Cabrini-Green, public housing high-rises. The neighborhood is now registering a drastically diminished black population, which wouldn’t be too surprising, but yet there is also a new mixed-income community emerging in the vicinity of the former high-rises. The map today shows more open space and an increasing mix of groups, with no strong plurality emerging.

The map of New York is equally dynamic. A large decline in the white and black populations has been more than offset by large increases in the Asian and Hispanic populations.  Many areas experienced population shifts that either lessened the concentration of the predominant group of 2000 or switched them outright from one group to another.  For example:

• The Bedford section of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn – a neighborhood that was 69% black and 23% Hispanic in 2000 – had the greatest percentage increase in whites citywide.  Whites grew by 633% (an increase of almost 16,000 people), increasing the white share in that neighborhood from 4% in 2000 to just over 25% in 2010;
• Whites also gained substantially in the predominantly black neighborhood of Central Harlem, Manhattan, growing by more than 400% to increase the white population share from 2% in 2000 to 10% in 2010; and
• in Flushing, Queens – home to a predominantly Asian population – the Asian population grew by 37% (13,469 people) between 2000 and 2010, and the Asian population growth extended beyond Flushing to adjacent communities and out to the Nassau County border.

The New York City site is more developed and offers a neighborhood by neighborhood percentage change in population, in table form.

The maps are sure to be useful for social service agencies, government officials, real estate professionals, and urban designers, among others who are interested in how cities move and change–not to mention the residents who live in them and contribute to the fabric of the city. Additional cities including Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, and Charlotte, NC will be launched this summer.

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