New York Times visualization of data on racial and ethnic distribution

Just how diverse are different Berkeley neighborhoods? What percentage of households earn under $30,000, or over $200,00? Where do a large percentage of mortgages consume more than 30% of household income?

The treasure trove of data in the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey can tell you those answers and more. But to extract the data you need to be a bit of a wonk, navigating the Census Bureau’s site and finding the right information for the right place. The wonderful data visualization experts at The New York Times have, however, made the data readily — and beautifully — available to everyone.

Using samples of the ACS data from 2005 to 2009, the Times plots data on race and ethnicity, income, housing and families, and education (results of the last will be familiar if you read our post on the braininess of Berkeley). Simply plug in your zip code or Berkeley and you can browse the maps.

The image above shows racial and ethnic distribution in Berkeley. Each dot represents 50 people. So the densely populated (for Berkeley) census tract 4228 just south of the university with a lot of student housing is 35% white, 2% black, 16% Hispanic, 42% Asian and 5% other. The tract that contains the Elmwood (tract 4237) is 66% white, 1% black, 11% Hispanic, 18% Asian and 4% other.

It’s a cliché on the web to say go look at the whole thing, but the ability to zoom in and compare data on your own really demands that in this instance (here’s that link again). To whet your appetite further here are some more images from our browsing:

Change in household median income since 2000
Masters degree or higher in household

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...