A few days ago, Nate Silver at Five Thirty Eight published a fascinating post titled "The Most Diverse Cities Are Often The Most Segregated."
"It is all too common to live in a city with a wide variety of ethnic and racial groups — including Chicago, New York, and Baltimore — and yet remain isolated from those groups in a racially homogenous neighborhood," Silver writes.
Silver uses Dustin Cable's interactive Racial Dot Map
, hosted by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. It's a really fun tool, used to examine the racial breakdowns of the nation's cities according to 2010 census data. (Note: The dots do not represent actual addresses. "Individual dots are randomly located within a particular census block to match aggregate population totals for that block.")
Ultimately, the information available wasn't enough to determine how diverse and segregated a city is, so Silver created a new measurement: the integration-segregation index. "It’s defined by the relationship between citywide and neighborhood diversity scores."
Using the combined metric, the first city in Colorado to rank in Silver's list of the Top 100 largest cities is Aurora at 10th, showing both high citywide diversity and neighborhood diversity.
But a little good news about our region for once: Colorado Springs is the next Colorado city, ranking 22nd. (Denver is 67th.)
One explanation for our fairly high ranking is this comment from Silver: "Furthermore, most of the exceptions are cities like Sacramento that have large Hispanic or Asian populations. Cities with substantial black populations tend to be highly segregated." Colorado Springs is 78.6 percent white, 14.1 percent Hispanic/Latino and 6.8 percent African-American.
However, another reason comes from the book Cities, Change, and Conflict
by Nancy Kleniewski et al., which cites a 2007 study from Polly J. Smith titled The Impact of Military Desegregation on Segregation Patterns in American Cities: A Case Study of Colorado Springs, New London and Fayetteville
"One particular way functional specialization impacts cities is in terms of racial segregation," Kleniewski et al. writes. "For instance, Logan et al. found that black-white segregation was highest in metropolitan areas specializing in manufacturing and, to a lesser degree, in those with a high proportion of retirees. in contrast, metropolitan areas with a high concentration of government workers (such as state capitals) and the military had lower levels of segregation. ...
"The impact on segregation was most evident in cities that developed around the military itself, newer cities such as Colorado Springs and Fayetteville, North Carolina. Since functional specialization had the greatest impact as the cities grew, the implication is that segregation can be explained in part by the actions of the dominant institutions while a city developed. In contrast, cities where the dominant institutions fostered racist attitudes among residents during the city's initial development, such as manufacturing firms using race as a means to divide workers against each other, exhibit higher levels of segregation."
All that said, the races in Colorado Springs are still generally divided, as the above images shows and everybody knows, concentrating Hispanics, blacks, and Asians in the southeast along South Academy Boulevard.
It's also interesting to note little pockets of of minority populations, like the red Asian dots near Garden of the Gods Road, or the gold Hispanic dots near the Chapel Hills Mall.