Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The census gets personal

Have you checked out the interactive U.S. Census feature on the New York Times website? You can enter in your zip code and zoom down to the block level to see how your neighborhood rates when it comes to ethnic diversity, income and educational levels and property values. I took a couple of screen shots of my immediate neighborhood and Oak Park overall to see how my 'hood looked compared with others in the area. I wasn't surprised by the information; I already knew my neighbors were well-educated, somewhat well-off, about three-quarters white and living in houses worth about $350k.
Light blue dots indicate households earning under $30k and red dots are for households over $200k. Our house is smack in the middle of census tract 8129, with 1706 households. 10% are in the lowest income group, 10% in the highest and 28%--the biggest group--in the $100-$149k range.

When it comes to race, my tract is 77% white, 13% Black, 5% Hispanic and 4% Asian.

I knew Oak Park was a lot different from its neighbors to the south (Cicero and Berwyn) and west (Chicago's Austin neighborhood), but these scaled-out maps (about 2-3 miles across) show how dramatic the differences are in income and especially race. The highway through the middle of the maps is I-290. I live about 3 blocks north of it in central Oak Park.

Have you played around with the census data? Uncovered any surprises?