Written by: Director Robert Groves
One of the interesting phenomena in several of our big cities is the dynamic nature of the ethnic composition of neighborhoods. In Philadelphia and New York, I recently visited areas that were Italian last decade and are now Hispanic; Hispanic last decade, and Russian now.
We are both a diverse society and a changing one.
The Census Bureau has good data on languages used in neighborhoods in the year 2000, and we used that data to target special non-English assistance (through translated forms and assistance guides – 59 different languages). But a real challenge is getting the language assignment correct for neighborhoods undergoing change.
The most interesting examples are urban blocks in transition, where one house may be occupied by East European immigrants and the next by Hispanic immigrants.
It is truly amazing and never fails to remind me that we are a nation of immigrants.