Friday, October 1, 2010

What's the Color of Your Neighborhood?

I happened across an article at Gawker about aerial photos of major US cities, but instead of images of the landscape, they were of the racial make-up and divides of the cities. Each pixel represents 25 people and the color of the dot signifies the race: red=white, blue=black, orange=Hispanic, yellow=Asian. If you scroll over the map, boxes appear that define different neighborhoods within the city.

The artist is Eric Fischer, and he started this project after he found a similar photo of Chicago by Bill Rankin. Fischer expanded the project to cover forty major US cities. All of the photos are available for viewing on his flikr.

While no map is a complete blend of all the differently colored dots, and thus all races, some of the photos are hopeful for what all cities might look like in the future. For instance, the maps of Riverside, CA; San Jose, CA; San Bernado, CA all have a lot of blending and no stark borders.

However, other cities get failing grades. For instance, looking at the Detroit map, you can literally see the racial divide of Eight Mile Road. It’s so stark and well-defined, you would think there was literally a physical border or constraint that restricted movement between the north and south side of the street. Washington D.C. displays so clearly its East/West divide and lack of racial integration. New York City also has extremely homogenous pockets dependent upon the neighborhood.

It’s doubtful I would pick a city to reside in based solely upon this data, but it certainly gives me something to think about. I want to live in a city that measures up to the “melting pot” label the US gets, and I want it to be accurate.

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