Map Monday: Twin Cities Diversity Trends by Neighborhood, 2000 – 2017

The New York Times published a compelling map-based article this weekend about how white and non-white ratios are changing in neighborhoods around the United States. Their key thesis is that white homebuyers are rapidly changing the demographics and real estate values of neighborhoods that have long been home for people of color in many US cities.

The article is full of data and maps; here is the map showing Minneapolis and Saint Paul:

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Here’s how the Times explains the logic of this trend:

In America, racial diversity has much more often come to white neighborhoods. Between 1980 and 2000, more than 98 percent of census tracts that grew more diverse did so in that way, as Hispanic, Asian-American and African-American families settled in neighborhoods that were once predominantly white.

But since 2000, according to an analysis of demographic and housing data, the arrival of white residents is now changing nonwhite communities in cities of all sizes, affecting about one in six predominantly African-American census tracts. The pattern, though still modest in scope, is playing out with remarkable consistency across the country — in ways that jolt the mortgage market, the architecture, the value of land itself.

In city after city, a map of racial change shows predominantly minority neighborhoods near downtown growing whiter, while suburban neighborhoods that were once largely white are experiencing an increased share of black, Hispanic and Asian-American residents.

The Twin Cities does have as stark examples of these kinds of neighborhoods as some other cities, like Raleigh, Brooklyn, Atlanta, or Chicago. But here it’s pretty clear that more white people are buying homes in Frogtown Saint Paul and North Side Minneapolis, while more people of color are buying homes in suburbs than they did a generation or two ago. This is important because of the persistent wealth gaps that exist between white households and other groups, which are charted out in the article.

Check out the whole piece on the Times for more info.


14 thoughts on “Map Monday: Twin Cities Diversity Trends by Neighborhood, 2000 – 2017

  1. Elizabeth Larey

    In the 60’s and 70’s they called in white flight. The whites moved to the suburbs. Now it’s reversing. I’d really appreciate someone telling me what the problem is with people moving to where they want to live. People choose where they want to go, based on what works for them.

  2. Eric AnondsonEric Anondson

    To me this is just an inevitable map when a metro area was so heavily majority white like the Twin Cites has been. I mean that ring around the core cities was never going to shift the other direction.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      To me the interesting parts are (1) just how few urban neighborhoods are getting more white people, and (2) how immune to diversity very large swathes of each core city is. Why are our segregated urban neighborhoods staying so segregated?

      1. Mike

        That’s a bad take from the data presented. Changes shown are relative and over a few years, really: don’t underestimate the time change for demographic shifts.

        The most interesting graph is the scatter plot that shows non-white homeowners are slotting into neighborhoods where their income matches the new neighborhood -refuting a lot of the “racial redlining persists today” narrative. If people have the economic means they are not excluded.

        Meanwhile the income comparisons of white families to their neighborhood looks like textbook gentrification dynamic.

        1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

          If you realize how segregated Minneapolis is and then you look at a map that shows that most of it is not experiencing a meaningful change in the racial makeup of it’s homeowners, how is there any conclusion except that our segregation is continuing?

          I guess one could assume that our segregated neighborhoods are adding a lot of new rental housing that’s more diverse, but they aren’t.

  3. J

    I think there has been something of an assumption that white flight reflected some unique intrinsic desire of wealthy whites to live in the suburbs.

    This map kind of shows that white flight was mostly circumstantial, predicated by the fears, desires, and ignorance of the time – and enabled by gaping racial wealth & power inequality.

    Cars, while still expensive, are no longer a luxury. Redlining, while still being used to exploit/restrict in various ways, is no longer the racist steel curtain it once was.

    Many people of color have found that the suburbs work better for their needs, and many white people have found that urban living works better for theirs.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      White flight wasn’t circumstantial. It was the direct and intended result of policies that subsidized it. The growth of the suburbs was directly dependent on subsidizing freeways and roads to serve them, and only white people could get loans to purchase houses in them.

      Yes, people of color have better access to those subsidies today. That is better than reserving them for white people but may not be better than getting rid of the subsidies.

      1. J

        Here here. I think getting rid of the subsidies is better, especially as suburbs age/decay and become, at first glance, affordable options for lower income earners with shoestring car maintenance budgets. Non-existent transit/walkability leave them high and dry when inevitable major repairs are needed. Take away the subsidies and these decaying suburbs no longer look like the bargain they aren’t.

        BTW what I mean when I say white flight was circumstantial is that it was white homeowners people responding the circumstances of their era, as opposed to there being some innate preference for suburbia that white people possess. No argument here about blockbusting. Circumstantial is probably the wrong word, as its most common legal definition means something else.

  4. Scott Walters

    I found the regional differences interesting. Our map isn’t all that interesting in itself, but it becomes more interesting in comparison with Chicago, east coast cities (lots of orange), west coast cities (quite a bit of orange), and other regional mid-western cities (less orange). It’s also interesting to look at smaller cities and rural areas with unique employment opportunities. You can pick out meat-packing towns (blue), rural health care oasis (blue), and towns with significant manufacturing opportunities (blue). Look at Rochester MN (Mayo), Danville PA (Geisinger), Cooperstown, NY (Bassett Healthcare). Each of these rural health care systems is massive relative to the size of its respective town, and has created a blue zone where wealthy non-whites have flocked. Columbus, Nebraska is a manufacturing powerhouse (relative to its size) and has seen non-whites catching up (but not caught up) with the whites.

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