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July 22, 2008

« Rise of the Cosmoburb | Main | Fittest Cities »

That's the title of this Wall Street Journal report:

For much of the 20th century, the proportion of whites shrank in most U.S. cities. In recent years the decline has slowed considerably -- and in some significant cases has reversed. Between 2000 and 2006, eight of the 50 largest cities, including Boston, Seattle and San Francisco, saw the proportion of whites increase, according to Census figures. The previous decade, only three cities saw increases.

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Michael Wells

In Portland, long one of America's whitest cities, the proportion of minorities and immigrants is growing. I think this is actually part of the same trend toward less segregation. I wonder what's happening in other very white cities, like Minneapolis.

Interesting contrast with Bill Bishop's Big Sort. An example of how more than one thing can happen at a time.

Robert

Actually you need to look at the details. You have to look at the racial composition of the neighborhoods in these cities which are probably very segregated. I suspect that most of the white people moving back to the city are people with no children and thus no connection to the larger world outside their own neighborhood. One reason I suspect that white people left for the suburbs to begin with is that they didn't want to send their kids to the same school as racial minorities which they believed were inferior to themselves. If they do have children then they would send them to private schools. Also gentrification plays a key role. When extremely wealthy whites move into core cities and force others to move out I don't consider this to be an example of any increase in tolerance since there is no social connection between the wealthy whites moving in and the racial minorities forced to move out.

The bottom line is there is no end to White Flight.

Michael Wells

There are a ton of families with kids moving into my Portland neighborhood, including one Black family on our street and a few Asians. Many if not all of the children will attend public schools -- good neighborhood schools is one of the reasons people choose our neighborhood.

Robert has a point about gentrification, but in Portland the wealthy folks aren't moving into the minority neighborhoods. The whites moving into historically Black neighborhoods are younger arty or creative class types, many of whom do interact with the older residents. Buying a first house to fix up, they're professionals and artists, not poor but certainly not wealthy.

A recent post linked to an article about Black families moving to the suburbs in the 1990's to get their kids away from gangs, and we certainly saw that here. Along with gentrification, it has dispersed Blacks throughout the city and the region -- for better or worse, since it has both increased integration and reduced the cohesiveness of the historic Black community.

Zoe B

The last time I was in Minneapolis I saw public signs in multiple languages: English, Spanish, and one I did not recognize. Turns out it was Somalian. Minneapolis has a huge number of Somalian refugees.

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