Denver racial boundaries: New York Times census maps show massive urban segregation

Categories: News

New York Times ethnic map of Denver.JPG
It's no secret that Denver is far from perfectly homogenous. But just how racially divided is the city? As illustrated by new, interactive, nationwide population maps developed by the New York Times, Denver's Hispanic and white populations are starkly segregated, with I-25 serving as the proverbial "wrong side of the tracks" boundary line.

Both the scale and elegance of the Times' "Mapping America: Every City, Every Block" online cartographic project are impressive. Mining the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey data from 2005 to 2009, the interactive program illustrates racial, income, education and housing statistics for the entire country, and can zoom in on individual census tracks. The result is a data geek's dream -- as well as a powerful community dissection tool.

Here in Denver, some of the project's findings aren't especially encouraging. The Times' ethnic distribution maps for Denver capture just how balkanized the city has become, with the vast majority of the urban area's Hispanic community living on the west side of I-25, while the area east of the interstate is overwhelmingly white. While such findings aren't necessarily groundbreaking, the vivid way the division is illustrated on the maps is still eye-opening.

Although the city's African-American population is still largely based in the northeast section of the city, the maps illustrate that many of these historical black neighborhoods, such as northeast Park Hill, are actually becoming increasingly diverse. As for other cartographic insights, the maps suggest that the majority of the city's same-sex couples live in the Congress Park neighborhood and, more surprisingly, Sunnyside in northwest Denver. Who woulda thought?

What other insights/bombshells/no-brainers can you find on these maps?

Follow Joel Warner on Twitter @joelmwarner

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