Census maps show diversity in Houston as ‘jigsaw puzzle’ rather than ‘melting pot’ Houston Center, downtown. Image via Brookfield.
Houston Center, downtown. Image via Brookfield.

While Houston and other Texas cities have increasingly diverse populations, a series of maps from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the composition of most neighborhoods often reflect a single dominant ethnic group, rather than a “melting pot.”

According to the 2010 Census, Houston’s ethnic makeup is 41 percent Hispanic, 31 percent Caucasian, 18 percent African-American and six percent Asian. The color-coded maps show a blend of colors in southwest Harris County and in Fort Bend County neighborhoods, such as Mission Bend, Sugar Land and Missouri City.

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In neighborhoods closer to the city’s center, the maps appear more like a monochromatic jigsaw puzzle than a mix of pigments. For instance, areas in southwest Houston show some of the highest concentrations of Asian residents. These areas cover the city’s “Chinatown,” “Little Hanoi” and “Mahatma Gandhi District.”

African-American neighborhoods lie scattered throughout the city. One of the areas with the highest concentrations of African-American residents borders the downtown business district to the north, Highway 288 to the west, Mykawa Road to the east and the South Sam Houston Tollway to the south.

Hispanic neighborhoods can also be found throughout the city, especially east and southeast of downtown. A major concentration of Hispanic neighborhoods lies along a strip starting just north of downtown and extending past the North Sam Houston Parkway, between Interstate 45 and the Hardy Toll Road.

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Many of the Caucuasian enclaves lie on the city’s west side, especially west of downtown inside the 610 Loop. This area includes neighborhoods such as River Oaks, West University and Montrose. Another area with a high concentration of Caucasian residents sits northeast of the city near U.S. Highway 59, with small towns such as Atascocita and Humble.

“Much progress remains to be made in our nation’s continuing struggle against racial isolation,” wrote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in a 2015 majority opinion on fair housing in Texas. “We must remain wary of policies that reduce homeowners to nothing more than their race.”

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