Southern Brooklyn

Interactive Map Color Codes Race Down To Every Individual

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Source: University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service
The racial diversity of Brookyn (Source: University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service)

It might be hard to believe but every single pixelated dot represented on the map above is a person living in Brooklyn in 2010 and the colors correspond to their race. Dustin Cable, a senior research associate at the University of Virgina’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, created the interactive map using data from the 2010 census.

The zoomable “Racial Dot Map,” astonishingly places a different colored dot for everyone of the 308,745,538 people tracked in the last census. Incredibly, according to a report by National Geographic, if you zoom to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the location of the White House, you see can see 5 green dots (representing black Americans) signifying the first family and Barack Obama’s mother-in-law.

More locally, we can see how race fans out over Brooklyn. The predominantly white population (represented by blue dots) of Sea Gate abruptly gives way to the black, Hispanic (orange) and Asian (red) enclaves of Coney Island. The western section Brighton Beach is almost entirely white. A mix of Asian and Hispanic people are tucked neatly away in the land side of Brighton Beach, away from the more desirable waterfront, while the majority of Manhattan Beach is clearly made up of white people.

Sheepshead Bay is actually surprisingly integrated. It’s predominantly white but blended – especially as you approach Avenue U – with smaller pockets of Asian and Hispanic people lining the edges. We’re not particularly integrated when it comes to black Americans, though, which are appear confined to the greenish, orangish square of the Sheepshead-Nostrand Housing projects.

It’s quite the eye opener to see just how Asian and Hispanic the historically Italian neighborhood of Bensonhurst has become. Anecdotally, and through census numbers, we know the area has transitioned drastically over the years, but seeing it visualized like this brings it to life. Bath Beach and the Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst border are real bastions of integration, if only because it’s still in flux.

Surprisingly, based on the unscientific eyeball test, some of the most diverse neighborhoods in Brooklyn are Red Hook, Park Slope and South Slope (which we’re not entirely committed to recognizing as a real neighborhood yet).

Another interesting note is that the further you zoom out, the more you see the colors blend in ways that indicate greater diversity. Purple and teal colors signify great diversity and when the map is pushed back to reveal the entire tri-state area, it is clear that Brooklyn and New York City is mostly a purplish blob. This is evident in most metropolitan areas across the United States. Still, the closer you zoom in, the more you can racial divides, even on a street by street basis. Interesting stuff, indeed.

You can play around with the map by clicking here.

UPDATE (August 30 @ 3:32 p.m.): In response to a request from bill, in the comments, I’ve attempted to overlay district lines on the map above. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close and the best I was able to do:

district-census-overlay2

It was actually a great suggestion that helps us visualize exactly how districts were shaped to either bolster representation of some ethnic groups (either to match requirements set by the Voting Rights Act or concentrate a voting base, depending on your perspective), and to diminish others.

Some examples? Looks like Bensonhurst’s Asian community was divided up among four different council districts. In Sheepshead Bay, the housing projects by Nostrand Avenue, once part of the 48th District, were drawn into the 46th, pretty much removing all of the black vote from the district and putting it safely in a minority-majority district.

This is probably one of the most politically enlightening maps I’ve seen yet, so thanks to bill for suggesting we put it together.

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