Is New York really the second-most-segregated city in America?

The New York metro region, by race

Salon yesterday came up with a fascinating report on the 10 most segregated urban areas in America. The results were shocking, especially for us denizens of the northeast who like to imagine we’ve gone beyond the racial tensions of the past century; numerous "educated," "liberal" cities ended up on the list, including New York, sitting all the way up there at number two. (For the curious, Milwaukee was first.)

What? New York, second? Deliciously cosmopolitan, multicultural metropolis New York is more segregated than Los Angeles? Apparently. To start, we’re talking whole metro areas here, which once again means you’re allowed to blame everything bad on Bridge and Tunnel folks.

That was a joke, but segregation in New York’s suburbs is no laughing matter! As Salon reports:

"Here in the home of limousine liberalism, the first part of the problem is to get anyone to stop talking about ‘diversity’ in the aggregate long enough to acknowledge that municipal and neighborhood segregation didn’t just drop from the sky … and isn’t simply a function of economics or of self-selection," Craig Gurian, executive director of the Anti-Discrimination Center, says. "Rather [it] was created by explicitly discriminatory conduct on the part of both public and private actors over the course of decades."

From MetLife refusing to rent Stuyvesant Town to blacks in the 1940s, to Yonkers fighting moves to bring low-income housing to the city’s east side in the 1980s, to Westchester county’s misrepresentation of its affordable-housing efforts, efforts to segregate New Yorkers by race and income have been going on for decades.

However, there some good news for ashamed New Yorkers: Despite the number’s we’re still probably better than other cities. Although our neighborhoods are very segregated, the nature of the city means that New Yorkers spend a lot of time in neighborhoods that are not their own! At least, that’s what NYU urban policy professor Ingrid Ellen Gould says:

"What happens is that we’re not making apples to apples comparisons. The neighborhoods in Atlanta and Houston are 10 times the size of neighborhoods in New York City physically. The census tracts are so much smaller, so you’re likely to cross over a number of census tracts every day."

So why not break out those cheers? "We’re not #2! We’re not #2!" (via Salon)


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