By Ryan Velez
When we think of hotbeds of diversity, generally, a few states come in mind. New York, California, and Florida. However, a recent study reported on by EURWeb shows that the most diverse neighborhood in the country isn’t in any of these states. Instead, it is a neighborhood in Anchorage, Alaska, that is at the top of the heap, and the makeup of this area says a lot about changing demographics in the country.
The data came from sociologist Chad Farrell at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Farrell has spent the last 5 years looking through census data of over 72,000 neighborhoods. In order to evaluate the ethnic and racial diversity of these neighborhoods, he created a scale.
“It ranges from 0 to 100. Zero meaning no diversity — there’s only one group present in that neighborhood — to a maximum of 100, where you have multiple groups and they’re of similar size to one another,” says Farrell. Queens, New York, had six of the top ten, but the top three neighborhoods were in the Anchorage area. “My reaction was, ‘Wow.’ But it was also, ‘Oh, that makes sense,’” says Farrell. The tipping point is the large amount of native Alaskans in the area, but Anchorage is also the home of several other single and multi-ethnic groups.
“I think it speaks to the broader demographic trend that we’re seeing in the United States,” says Farrell. “We’re becoming a much more diverse nation.” The top of the list is the community of Mountain View.
“It’s a fantastic neighborhood. It’s full of people from every part of the world, and it’s our daily experiment to see what happens when you put all these people in the same neighborhood,” says Emily Cohn, who works with the Anchorage Community Land Trust — a group that purchases and re-purposes urban plots of land in the area. However, there are still plenty of hurdles for this area to overcome, which recently had its first bank in 25 years.
“We’ve got the highest rate of unemployment in the city, about 22 percent, which is staggeringly high,” says Cohn. The bank’s appearance is pretty notable considering the large immigrant and refugee population in Mountain View, which generally has no access to traditional banking due to nonexistent credit history.
“Diversity brings with it a vibrancy, but it also presents a whole a range of challenges as well,” says Farrell. “Diversity just means that’s just that many more bridges you have to build between different groups who might have very different backgrounds, and that can be very challenging.”