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A Colorful Dot Map of America's Immigrants

How international is your city?

Devon Street in the North of Chicago is a flurry of color. Shop display windows feature the newest sari fashions, glittering glass bangles, jootis, and other South Asian wares. Occasionally, you catch the smell of kabobs roasting in the tandoor.

These types of cultural enclaves are sprinkled across America, and brimming with immigrants who add significant economic and cultural value to their cities. Kyle Walker, assistant professor of geography at Texas Christian University, has mapped these immigrant communities in a fittingly colorful way.

Using census tract data, Walker represents the concentration of America’s immigrant population as dots, colored according to their country of origin (shown in key at left). What results is a unique mix of colors—an immigrant fingerprint of each city, showing where its immigrant residents are from and where they currently live.

Take the map of Chicago below. Immigrants from Mexico seem to make up a huge share, but you can see the light blue cluster of South Asian immigrants near the North—where Devon Street is located:

Walker was inspired by similar maps showing racial segregation, concentration of renters, and location of jobs in America. Visually his map looks a lot like Dustin Cable’s racial dot map, except instead of each dot representing one person it represents 20, and instead of the colors representing race they indicate a native region.

Walker will discuss his map project at an upcoming conference in Dallas. Meanwhile, check out how awesome his maps of immigrant hub cities look:

Washington, D.C.

New York

Dallas-Fort Worth

Los Angeles

About the Author

  • Tanvi Misra
    Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering demographics, inequality, and urban culture. She previously contributed to NPR's Code Switch blog and BBC's online news magazine.