The new Pew interactive covers 1850 to 2013.

Pew Research Center

U.S. migration patterns changed plenty from 1850 to 2013. A nifty interactive map, created by the Pew Research Center, visualizes these shifts by showing the origin of the dominant immigrant group in each state for every decade during this time period.

The map is a part of a comprehensive report on past and future immigration trends, the main point of which is to highlight the impact of the Immigration Act of 1965. But the map reveals the events, policies, and trends before and after 1965 that shaped the waves of U.S. immigration.

From 1850 to 1880, for example, Irish immigrants were the largest group of new arrivals, closely followed by Germans. The Irish potato famine and crop failures in Germany, and later war and political destabilization in Europe, are all partly responsible for pushing out these and other migrants out of Europe and into America—well into the 20th century.

While these European migrants faced discrimination and xenophobia, their numbers weren’t restricted by immigration policy the way Chinese and Hispanic immigrants were (at least not in the 19th century). Workers from China and Mexico were a substantial presence in Western and Southern states, respectively, in 1880 (below). The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 clamped down on workers from China because they were believed to be stealing economic opportunities and were considered racially inferior.

More restrictions were put in place in 1924 so that by 1960, the biggest immigrant populations in most U.S. states were white, Pew’s map shows:

It’s only after the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act that the U.S. starts to diversify again, in large part due to a massive influx of immigrants from Mexico and Latin America. But in recent years, Asian immigrants have overtaken those Hispanic origins in number. Pew now projects that Asians will become the largest immigrant group in the country in the next 50 years. In 2065, the share of Asians in the U.S. population is likely to be almost double that of white immigrants.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A Soviet map of London, labeled in Russian.
    Maps

    The Soviet Military Secretly Mapped the Entire World

    These intricate, curious maps were supposed to be destroyed. The ones that remain reveal a fascinating portrait of how the U.S.S.R. monitored the world.

  2. A Vancouver house designed in a modern style
    POV

    How Cities Get 'Granny Flats' Wrong

    A Vancouver designer says North American cities need bolder policies to realize the potential of accessory dwellings.

  3. A map of California
    Equity

    Mapping Racial Disparities in the Golden State

    Racial gaps in California get a county-by-county look in a new online tool.

  4. A scene from Hey Arnold! is pictured.
    Life

    Even Hey Arnold's Neighborhood Is Gentrifying Now

    Series creator Craig Bartlett explains how he built the cartoon city that every ‘90s kid dreamed of living in.

  5. Equity

    Counting Down to a Census Doomsday

    Top-level vacancies and flatlined funding appear to be the Trump administration’s plans for the Census Bureau.