Insightful Interaction/Natalia Bronshtein

A new data visualization captures the waves of arrival.

In 1819, Congress passed a law requiring that the arrival of all immigrants be recorded. Immigrant workers were needed, and the rest of the 19th century saw their numbers grow. From that period through today, America has seen waves of immigration, which Natalia Bronshtein has captured in a colorful interactive graphic.

"The point of this visualization ... is to get the big picture while preserving the ability to drill down into the details," Bronshtein tells CityLab via email. "Much has been said and written about immigration to the U.S., but I wanted to get a birds-eye view, a reification of the issue, that would help me as I explored the topic further."

When Bronshtein crunched the data from the yearbook of immigration statistics, she hadn't expected such visually dramatic results. She says two things immediately jumped out at her.

First, that immigration didn't just keep inching up once the flood gates had opened—there were significant bottlenecks caused by restrictive immigration laws. The biggest can be seen right after the Immigration Act of 1924 was passed. This law restricted people from Eastern and Southern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia from coming to America.

Second, after World War II, the diversity of immigrants increased, again because of a law. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 removed the nationality-based constraints put in place by previous legislation. That law has contributed to the America becoming the melting pot it is today, says Bronshtein, and all the new bands of colors in the visualization in this time period testify to that.

In the last decade or so, the biggest waves in the immigrant tide come from Mexico (below, top) and East Asian countries other than India and China (below, bottom):

Check out the colorful interactive here.

H/t: Vox

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. The legs of a crash-test dummy.
    Transportation

    A Clue to the Reason for Women’s Pervasive Car-Safety Problem

    Crash-test dummies are typically models of an average man. Women are 73 percent more likely to be injured in a car accident. These things are probably connected.

  2. a photo of the First Pasadena State Bank building, designed by Texas modernist architects MacKie and Kamrath. It will be demolished on July 21.
    Design

    The Lonely Death of a South Texas Skyscraper

    The First Pasadena State Bank, a 12-story modernist tower inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, has dominated this small town near Houston since 1962.

  3. A NASA rendering of a moon base with lunar rover from 1986.
    Life

    We Were Promised Moon Cities

    It’s been 50 years since Apollo 11 put humans on the surface of the moon. Why didn’t we stay and build a more permanent lunar base? Lots of reasons.

  4. A photo of anti-gentrification graffiti in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    The Hidden Winners in Neighborhood Gentrification

    A new study claims the effects of neighborhood change on original lower-income residents are largely positive, despite fears of spiking rents and displacement.

  5. Environment

    How ‘Corn Sweat’ Makes Summer Days More Humid

    It’s a real phenomenon, and it’s making the hot weather muggier in the American Midwest.

×