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Mapping the Wealth Divide in Washington, D.C.

There are no physical walls separating people of differing backgrounds or creeds in Washington, D.C., but this map created by D.C. think tank Urban Institute proves that the city's cultural and monetary walls are not only real, but on the move. With Urban Institute's interactive map, one can see how the top 10 percent (blue areas) and the lowest 10 percent (black areas) migrated around Washington, D.C. from 1990 to 2000 to 2010. Over the two decades, the most disadvantaged moved further and further away from downtown D.C., reaching east of the Anacostia River and over the city limits. Meanwhile, the most advantaged moved in the opposite direction towards the suburbs in the Northwest quadrant. "In D.C., distress has spread beyond the district boundaries and into suburban tracts in Prince George's County," reported Urban Institute. Surprisingly, the three most "advantaged" tracts in the U.S. in 2010 were found just outside Washington, D.C. in Chevy Chase and Bethesda.

To create the map, Urban Institute analyzed four indicators of advantage and disadvantage: average household income, share with a college degree, homeownership rate, and median housing values. Not surprisingly, the data was able to track the inequality in wealth by race, finding that "the average white household has five times the wealth of the average Hispanic household and six times that of the average black household." Other data found was that from 1990 to 2010, the "purchasing power," or average tract household income, rose for the top 10 percent by $43,000, while the "purchasing power" of the lowest 10 percent only grew by $3,100. The highest peaks of inequality were also found in regions with a population that ranged from five to 10 million.
Below, you'll see a comparison between data from 2000 (left) and 2010 (right):


Below, you'll see a comparison between data from 1990 (left) and 2010 (right):


· Nationwide Map [Urban Institute]
· Worlds Apart: Inequality Between America's Most and Least Affluent Neighborhoods [Urban Institute]
· Curbed Maps archive [Curbed DC]