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The Short Version
I pulled Census 2010 data for 20 walkable neighborhoods in the United States and compared the racial percentages for those neighborhoods to the racial percentages of either the city or county surrounding the neighborhood. Two patterns appeared.
- Walkable neighborhoods are less diverse than their surrounding cities/counties.
- Blacks & Hispanics are less likely to live in walkable neighborhoods. Whites are more likely to live in walkable neighborhoods.
A Conversation About Walkable Communities & Diversity
The issue of walkable communities and diversity came up recently in a Twitter conversation. I sent out a tweet about an article titled “How Walkable Streets Can Boost the Economy.” The following conversation ensued.
I found a list of the most walkable US neighborhoods on Walkscore.com. Well, now if I just had a tool that would let me pull demographic data for neighborhoods in seconds, I could start to look at walkable communities and diversity…oh right…
How to Pull Census 2010 Race Data for Neighborhoods/Communities
First, I selected 20 of the most walkable neighborhoods in 20 different cities across the US from the Walkscore.com list.
20 Walkable Communities
|100||Tribeca||New York||East Coast|
|99||Dupont Circle||DC||East Coast|
|99||Chinatown||San Francisco||West Coast|
|99||Pearl District||Portland||West Coast|
|99||Pioneer Square||Seattle||West Coast|
|98||City Center East||Philadelphia||East Coast|
|97||Back Bay-Beacon Hill||Boston||East Coast|
|96||Lower East Side||Milwaukee||Central|
|96||West End Historic||Dallas||South|
|96||Core||San Diego||West Coast|
|95||Old Westport||Kansas City||Central|
|95||Federal Hill||Baltimore||East Coast|
|95||Richmond Grove||Sacramento||West Coast|
Walkscore.com had the neighborhood boundaries for these 20 neighborhoods. I drew the Walkscore neighborhood boundaries on Cubit’s interactive map (see below). I pressed the Save button. In 30 seconds, I got maps & Census 2010 demographic data at the Census block level for the entire neighborhood. [Author’s note: Forgive the bragging; I just LOVE pulling data fast so I can do fun stuff with it. You can get the exact same data for your neighborhoods for free with a 7 day free trial of Cubit.]
Once I had the Census 2010 data, I pasted it into Excel and built some charts (see below).
1. Walkable neighborhoods have less racial diversity than their surrounding cities or counties.
The chart below shows the total minority percent for the neighborhood compared to the total minority percent for the surrounding city and/or county. The region with the highest percent of minorities is highlighted in yellow. Total minority percent was calculated by summing the total of all minority races & ethnicities and dividing by the total population.
In a nutshell, Census 2010 data indicate that walkable neighborhoods have less racial diversity than their surrounding cities or counties. Of the 20 walkable neighborhoods, 4 neighborhoods had a larger percentage of total minority residents than their surrounding cities and 1 neighborhood had an equivalent percentage of minority residents. That means that the other 15 neighborhoods had smaller total minority percentages than the total minority percentages for the surrounding cities and counties.
2. Blacks & Hispanics are less likely to live in walkable neighborhoods; whites are more likely to live in walkable neighborhoods.
The chart below shows minority percentages for neighborhoods and their surrounding geographies broken out by race. I highlighted all of the data where there is greater than a 10% difference between the percentage of a racial group who live in a walkable neighborhood versus the percentage of a racial group who live in the surrounding geography (city or county). Green indicates that a larger percentage of that racial group lives in the walkable neighborhood. Yellow indicates that a larger percentage of a racial group live in the surrounding geography. Note: this chart is much easier to see on Slideshare’s website.
A pattern quickly emerges. A smaller percentage of blacks and Hispanics live in walkable neighborhoods than the percentage of blacks and hispanics who live in the surrounding geographies. A larger percentage of whites live in walkable neighborhoods than the percentage of whites who live in the surrounding geographies.
Also, there are 5 neighborhoods where the racial percentages of the neighborhood are similar to the racial percentages of the surrounding geography: Five Points, Atlanta; Pearl District, Portland; Core, San Diego; Downtown, San Antonio; and Pioneer Square, Seattle. It’s interesting to note that all of these neighborhoods are in the South or on the West Coast. None of these neighborhoods are on the East Coast or Central US.
6/19/2011 Update: If you like this post, you might check out: Walkable Neighborhoods have Higher Housing Vacancy Rates per Census 2010 Data
What Do You Think?
These percentages are definitely back-of-the-napkin numbers, but I think some interesting patterns emerged from the data. What do you think? Were you expecting walkable neighborhoods to be less diverse than their surrounding regions? Would you like to see additional Census 2010 data analyzed for these 20 neighborhoods? If you’d be interested in more blog posts like this post, leave me a comment.