An article in the Economist looks at the nationwide trend of black people fleeing cities for the suburbs, and they use the Central District to illustrate the point. The percentage of black Americans living in the suburbs has risen about seven percent in the past years, Census data shows. Today, about half of the country’s black population lives in the suburbs. The effects are good and bad, according to the article:
This is proving a mixed blessing. Well-educated blacks are finding better jobs, bigger houses and newer schools, just as white-flight suburbanites did in previous generations. But many lower-income migrants from the inner cities are finding poverty, crime and poor social services when they arrive in their new homes. In the past decade, poverty has increased more than twice as fast in the suburbs as it has in the cities.
The the effect is particularly apparent in Seattle and Portland, “two of America’s whitest big cities.” Charlene Williams, owner of De Charlene’s Beauty Shop & Boutique at 21st and Madison, described how the neighborhood has changed since she opened up shop in 1968.
Her neighbourhood was 79% black when she set up shop in 1968. It was 58% black as recently as 1990. Now it is 21% black. Ms Williams once had 13 hairdressers on her payroll; now she employs none.
We wrote about the 2010 Census data a few weeks ago, using an interactive map by our news partners at The Seattle Times. Since then, The New York Times has also created an interactive map, breaking Census data down into even more data sets. These sets show population changes by race or ethnicity as well as changes in vacant housing and population density.
According to the NYT map, the black population has decreased in most — but not all — Central District Census blocks. Black population rose in the Census blocks including Jackson Place and Seattle University. However, black population fell by as much as 36 percent in parts of Squire Park east of 15th Ave to 31st Ave and south of Union to Yesler. Meanwhile, the white population has grown significantly in all Census blocks in the CD.
The black population has increased in most other parts of Seattle. The High Point neighborhood of West Seattle and parts of Rainier Valley — particularly the Census block between Beacon Hill and Othello — saw some of the largest growths in black population in the city.
The largest increases are in the suburbs, though. Black populations more than doubled in parts of Renton and Skyway, for example. Sea-Tac and Tukwila also saw large increases.