This study sets out to answer the question: how have neighborhoods changed since the Civil Rights Movement outlawed discriminatory housing? We study how neighborhood racial integration has changed during the four decades after the legislative successes of the Civil Rights Movement. We were unsatisfied with previous studies that focused mostly on defining “integrated” and “segregated” neighborhoods based on only on whether groups were present. We thought that the most interesting and important changes occur within “integrated” neighborhoods, and we set out to identify the common patterns of those changes.
We used a sophisticated statistical method to identify the most common types of change among Blacks, Latinos, Asians and Whites in the metropolitan neighborhoods of the four largest cities in the U.S.: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. We were disappointed to learn that many integrated neighborhoods were actually experiencing slow, but steady resegregation — a process that we call “gradual succession.” The process tended to concentrate Blacks into small areas of cities and inner-ring suburbs while scattering many Latinos and Asians into segregating neighborhoods throughout the metropolitan area.
While we reserve a healthy dose of pessimism about long-term integration, we also find neighborhoods experiencing long-term integration among Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Whites. We call these “quadrivial” neighborhoods, which derives from Latin for the intersection of four paths. We thought that seemed appropriate given the often different paths different racial groups took to these neighborhoods.
We invite you to take a look at the maps on this site for each metro area. If you have general questions about the overall study, you might be able to find the answer on our questions page. If you have more technically oriented questions, we encourage you to read the paper. And you should, of course, feel free to contact us.
About 20 million people call the New York metropolitan area home. The metro area is one of the most segregated in the United States and, as a result, New York has a large proportion of neighborhoods following stable Black and stable White trajectories. Some of the segregation came about because of White flight during the 1970s. Black segregation following this path clusters in the Lower Bronx, North Brooklyn, and in and around Newark, New Jersey.
Large-scale Latino immigration to the New York metro area has been relatively recent, and the number of recent Latino enclaves bears out that pattern. Neighborhoods experiencing recent Latino growth are scattered throughout suburban New Jersey, Long Island, and northern New York neighborhoods. New York also experienced high levels of Asian immigration relative to other metropolitan areas. Neighborhoods experiencing recent Asian growth are scattered throughout the metropolitan region.
New York also contains a large number of quadrivial neighborhood and the highest proportion of White re-entry neighborhoods. The latter are found near transportation to Manhattan in the gentrifying areas of Jersey City and Weehawken, New Jersey and the Brooklyn terminals of the of the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges.
New York, therefore, contains the contradiction of containing a large number of segregating neighborhoods along with a distinct trend toward integration.
Los Angeles became diverse before the nation as a whole did. In 1970, Latinos already made up 17% of the population, and by 2010, Asians made up 16%. By 1990, the Los Angeles metropolitan area was majority-minority.
The early onset of diversity in Los Angeles might have contributed to the large share of quadrivial neighborhoods in the Los Angeles metro. In the Los Angeles metro, nearly an equal percentage of neighborhoods followed a quadrivial compared to the stable White trajectory (20% vs. 22%).
On the other hand, the early growth of the Latino population led to more concentrated Latino segregation in Latino enclaves than the other three metro areas. Unlike the other metros, the Latino enclaves expanded into the segregated Black ghettos. Of all neighborhoods that followed the post-immigration reform Black to Latino succession across the four metropolitan areas, nearly three-quarters were neighborhoods in South Central.
The growing number of Asian immigrants led to a large number of neighborhoods gradually changing from White to Asian. In this, they are like another common port of entry for Asian immigrants: New York. The new enclaves are not concentrated in the city but are dispersed throughout the entire metropolitan area.
In summary, Los Angeles shows both the promise and peril of the future: a large percentage of durable integrated neighborhoods with increasing immigration leading to a new suburban segregation.
Chicago has been one of the most segregated cities throughout the twentieth century. Segregation developed during the 1920s in the “Black Belt” along the South Side of Chicago. The legacy of the Black Belt of the 1920s can still be found on the South Side. Many neighborhoods on the South Side followed the stable Black trajectory and neighborhoods next to those stable Black neighborhoods experienced White flight in the 1970s.
The Black ghetto has continued to grow through gradual succession. But now segregation has crept across the city line into Southern suburbs like Flossmoor, Country Club Hills, and Olympia Fields.
Latino has long been a destination for Latinos from Mexico and Puerto Rico. Mexican and Central American immigration grew in the 1990s and the distribution of neighborhoods following recent Latino succession trajectory. While some of these neighborhoods were in traditional Latino enclaves on the West Side of Humboldt Park and Little Village, many others were dispersed throughout the suburbs.
Some dispersion might have occurred because some of these traditional enclaves were experiencing gentrification. These are neighborhoods that experienced growth in the percentage of White residents after two decades of decline.
Integration remains rare in the Chicago area, with only 10 percent of neighborhoods following the quadrivial trajectory.
Houston experienced explosive growth of its Latino population in the 1990s. That nearly a quarter of neighborhoods in Houston underwent recent Latino growth reflects this growth. While this growth has consolidated ethnic enclaves in the Third Ward, others were in outlying communities like Cypress and Spring. Unlike in Los Angeles, to which Houston is often compared, the Latino enclaves in Houston developed during the post-reform wave of immigration in the 1980s.
Also unlike Los Angeles, a sizable share of neighborhoods (8 percent) followed a stable Black trajectory. This reflects Houston’s geography and history in the Deep South. Few neighborhoods, however, experience any kind of post-Civil Rights Black growth.
Houston, like Chicago, has few quadrivial neighborhoods. Only eight percent of neighborhoods followed this trajectory of durable integration. Another two percent experienced a reversal of White racial change from a loss of growth. Lower levels of Asian immigration to Houston (compared to New York and Los Angeles) could be one reason for a lack of quadrivial neighborhoods. There are also very few Asian growth neighborhoods — only one percent of neighborhoods experienced recent Asian growth.
Houston appears to be in flux with a potential for long-term integration. On the other hand, increasing Latino growth and a high proportion of stable Black neighborhood might lead to long-term segregation.