How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Mapping the nation by race, income and more

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The U.S. Census Bureau has yet to release specific data on race and ethnicity for the 2010 census, the initial results of which were released yesterday. But in the meantime, a new interactive mapping project put together by the New York Times helps make fascinating sense of who lives where.

Called "Mapping America: Every City, Every Block," the recently released maps do just that, using 2005-2009 data compiled from the census' American Community Survey. There are maps for race and ethnicity, income, housing and families, and education.

The scale of the project is impressive, in part because it drills down the nation's population makeup literally to street level. Punch South Los Angeles' 90001 ZIP code into the search tool and a map of starkly contrasting dots representing the area's tense mix of Latino (yellow dots) and African American (blue dots) residents comes into view, with each dot representing 25 people. Enter the same ZIP code into the income map, and you get a sobering sense of how many households there survive on less than $30,000 a year.

In addition to the dotted maps, there are also color-coded maps illustrating the percentage of residents from different ethnic groups in every region, as well as maps coded to illustrate the percentage of foreign-born residents.

The aesthetic of the dotted maps is reminiscent of the work of Radical Cartography's Bill Rankin, which in turn inspired a recent series of 2000 census-based race and ethnicity maps by artist Eric Fischer.

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