Mapping Oakland’s racial diversity

4 Feb

It used to be that the only way to look at census data was to go to the US Census Bureau website and sift through tables. This year though, many people, non-profits, and news organizations are developing creative tools to display census data in more useful ways. One of those tools is a mapping tool that Remapping Debate recently released that maps racial data from the 5-year data of the American Community Survey and shows how segregated much of the country still is. (One caveat is that this data is not the 2010 Census data and is not as accurate as that data will be, but I’m guessing Remapping Debate will revamp the tool when that data becomes available. For a thorough explanation of why ACS data is not as accurate, check out this A Better Oakland post on the subject.)

I played around with this mapping tool the other night and created a couple maps I thought were worth sharing here. Here’s the key to help you make sense of these maps:

Here’s the map of most of Oakland:

It’s hard to see at this size, but one of the things that stood out to me the most on this map is Piedmont, which according to this map is home to no blacks or Hispanics. (I’m guessing that is not true and we’ll find out for sure when the 2010 Census data is available, though the city is clearly much less diverse than Oakland.)

I wanted to see some more detail of my neighborhood so I made this map centered around my home:


(Note that some of those light patches are actually light green and depict parks.)

I don’t have any grand statements to make based on these maps, particularly since they’re not based on the 2010 Census data and I don’t want to draw too many conclusions based on this data, but they are interesting to explore. If you have a few minutes, head over to the site (you have to click through from this link to the mapping tool – no direct link is available) and check out your neighborhood. I found this color scheme the easiest to understand, but there are many different color options for data display that might make more sense to you.

I know other census mapping tools have been released recently but couldn’t remember where I had found those so if you have any recommendations of other tools worth using, please share them in the comments.

UPDATE: In the comments jaririchmond shares another ACS mapping tool from the New York Times that plots data as points and has options for mapping race, income, and more. Here’s the map I created of income in Oakland roughly centered around my home. I’m impressed with the income diversity of my neighborhood:

9 Responses to “Mapping Oakland’s racial diversity”

  1. jarichmond February 4, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Another fun map to play with is the New York Times’ Mapping America project. It also uses the ACS data, but it represents people using color coded dots, so it’s fun both for looking at diversity as well as density.

    The main map site is here: http://projects.nytimes.com/census/2010/explorer

    • Becks February 4, 2011 at 10:29 am #

      Thanks! That tool is awesome. I just created an income distribution map and added it to this post.

  2. Gene February 4, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Oakland Seen pointed me to a similar map last fall that I believe is based on the 2000 census data. I did an overlay with my neighborhoods map to get a better sense of where things were. But I was interested to note both how densely populated and diverse the area north of Lake Merritt is.

    • Becks February 4, 2011 at 11:14 am #

      Oh yeah – that was the height of election season busyness for me but now I remember seeing that post and being fascinated by it. Thanks for sharing it again.

  3. Eric Fischer February 4, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Hi Gene, yes, my map that you adapted is from the 2000 Census data. I’ll be updating it with the 2010 data as soon as they release it for California.

    That is weird about Piedmont. The info page for it on factfinder.census.gov estimates it as 75.8% white, 18.2% Asian, and only 1.3% black.

  4. Hometown grrl February 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    Does this map misstate the income composition of Oakland’s downtown infill?

    • Becks February 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

      Keep in mind that this data is just from the ACS survey, not from 2010 Census data so it only represents a small fraction of people who were surveyed. We should get a better idea of income distribution in downtown once the current Census data is released.

  5. Max Allstadt February 8, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    In the 2000 census, Believe it or not, Piedmont was 78.59% white, 1.24% African American, 0.11% Native American, 16.02% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.63% from other races, and 3.38% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.97% of the population.

    If that’s accurate, it means that the map you’re showing isn’t too far off. The situation borders on parody, but it isn’t funny.

    • Hometown grrl February 10, 2011 at 10:59 am #

      I don’t think the Piedmont situation is as bad as you portray it to be. I also think today’s diversity activist are too focused on diversity for diversity sake without understanding the numbers.

      In a country where blacks make up 13% of the population and the numbers earning incomes able to support Piedmont home prices are concentrated in a few pockets, Piedmont’s diversity numbers should not come as a shock.

      Further, today’s black Americans may not seek out all black neighborhoods but they will probably seek out diverse neighborhoods.

      It probably makes more sense to look at diversity in a middle class neighborhood than in a wealthy one. This is why I am interested in the downtown numbers. I have the sense that there are more middle to upper middle income black Americans than residents realize.

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