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Chicago Segregation Continues: New Data Shows Integration Is Slowing

First Posted: 12/16/10 09:06 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:20 PM ET

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Chicago is known as the most segregated city in the United States -- so much so, in fact, that the term "hypersegregation" was coined to describe the ghettoized separation of blacks on the South Side and whites on the North.

According to data released by the Census Bureau this week, that trend isn't getting any better.

Overall integration in Chicago is down from the year 2000, according to the American Community Survey's figures for 2005-2009. And while the city's Hispanic population is slightly better integrated than the national average, its black population still remains highly segregated.

In order for blacks to be as evenly distributed as whites are, 81 percent of Chicago's African-Americans would need to move, an analysis by the Chicago Sun-Times reveals.

From the Sun-Times coverage:

"This is a surprising result," [Brown University sociology professor John Logan] said. "At worst, it was expected that there would be continued slow progress." ...

"Immigrants naturally tend to cluster in ethnic communities," Logan said. "The growth of the county's Hispanic and Asian populations therefore naturally results in more concentrated ethnic enclaves."

In fact, Hispanic populations in Chicago were a bright spot on the integration front. In other large cities, too, like Buffalo and Washington, D.C., white and Hispanic people were more likely to live side-by-side than in previous years.

But Chicago's failure to integrate its black population remains a glaring problem for the city. From an Associated Press report on the latest figures:

"It's taken a Civil Rights movement and several generations to yield noticeable segregation declines for blacks," said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who reviewed the census data. "But the still-high levels of black segregation in some areas, coupled with uneven clustering patterns for Hispanics, suggest that the idea of a post-racial America has a way to go."

While the South Side of Chicago isn't monolithically black, a fascinating map from the Radical Cartography blog reveals that the city, and the South Side in particular, remains sharply divided along the lines of its community areas. White populations in the South Side are clustered tightly in areas like Beverly and Mount Greenwood, and the East Side area is a mostly Hispanic enclave.

The American Community Survey is a sort of mini-census that samples roughly one in 65 households across the country. A more complete picture will be revealed when the 2010 Census data are released next year.

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Filed by Will Guzzardi  |