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The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • Crime and Urban Form
  • Volume 13 Number 3
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

Visualizing Racial Segregation Differently: Exploring Geographic Patterns in Context

Ronald E. Wilson, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

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Geographic Information Systems organize and clarify the patterns of human activities on the earth’s surface and their interaction with each other. GIS data, in the form of maps, can quickly and powerfully convey relationships to policymakers and the public. This department of Cityscape includes maps that convey important housing or community development policy issues or solutions. If you have made such a map and are willing to share it in a future issue of Cityscape, please contact david.e.chase@hud.gov.


Visualizing geographical patterns of racial segregation is often done by mapping a proportion of a single racial group. The single proportion method, however, does not provide a context for understanding the social or economic conditions that interact with the pattern. This article is the second of two that examines segregation at the regional level. The previous article (Wilson, 2011) shows how to map two racial groups simultaneously to provide a comparative context for integration and regional segregation. The purpose of the analysis in this article is to move the reader beyond examining segregation with a single percentage map of one racial group without some comparative context. Not providing a comparison allows a reader to be misguided as to whether real problems exist. This article recasts the analysis of segregation to the interaction of the economic context with geographic patterns of segregation.

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