Taxonomies of Transition: Urban Segregation Maps by Bill Rankin and Eric Fisher

A taxonomy of transition“, (2009) by radical cartographer Bill Rankin is a visual essay on how racial boundaries mark the neighborhoods of a city like Chicago, “where the delimitation of (…) official “community areas” in the 1920s was one of the hallmarks of the famous Chicago School of urban sociology.”

This work uses dot mapping to show populations (Red/Purple is White, Blue is Black, Green is Asian, Orange is Hispanic, Gray is Other, and each dot is 25 people), hence describing three kinds of urban transitions: stark and precise boundaries, transitions and gradients, gaps.

This project was originally published as an essay in the Spring 2010 issue of Perspecta, the journal of the Yale School of Architecture.

In 2011 it won the MiniMax mapping contest at the “Moving Maps” cartographic biennale in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Astounded by Bill Rankin’s map of Chicago‘s racial and ethnic divides (above), Eric Fisher tried the same kind of mapping on 40 American cities. See here his “Race and Ethnicity” photoset, particularly because high definition images allow an for a better vision of the transitions.

Washingron D.C.: a strong separation between East and West;

Detroit: 8 mile beltway, providing a boundary for Black and White populations;

San Francisco Bay: white predominance over Northern side of the city, while relatively better integration on other sectors of the Bay;

New York: extreme racial segregation, increased by massive density. Possible cross-cultural ferment on boundaries;

LA: low density allows for blending neighborhoods;

San Antonio: even integration between white and hispanic populations.

Via: FastCo Design

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