Data analysis of Chicago’s racial divisions


Rankin is an assistant professor at Yale University who uses dots to graphically represent where people live. He says most maps use solid colors that make it seem like areas are homogenous with defined boundaries.

By using dots instead of clean edges, Rankin says his mapmaking method “immediately challenges the idea that neighborhoods are homogenous areas with sharp boundaries. My map highlights diversity instead of majority rule.”

Rankin’s maps are especially useful when looking at where neighborhoods transition between races.

Rankin says using solid colors “assumes that racial divisions will always be hard and abrupt and it makes it difficult to imagine or encourage greater mixing.”

“The way we make maps influences the way we think and the possibilities for planning and design,” he says.

Stay tuned to our series Race: Out Loud as we continue considering matters of race.

On Rankin’s map, each dot represents 25 people.

  • Pink represents white people.
  • Blue represents black people.
  • Green represents Asians.
  • Orange represents Hispanics.


Rankin’s maps use self-identification from the U.S. Census to map more than 70,000 individual blocks.

Chicago’s Ethnic Mosaic in 2000

Chicago’s Ethnic Mosaic in 1980


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