FYI Guy: More than nearly any other big city, Seattle lures residents from all over the map, ranking third in the U.S. for geographic diversity.
You probably already know that Seattle isn’t the most racially diverse place, at least when compared with other big U.S. cities.
But there’s more than one way to look at diversity — and when it comes to the geographic diversity of its residents, Seattle presents a vastly different profile.
Among the 50 biggest U.S. cities, Seattle ranks No. 3 on the “geographic diversity index” with a score of 79.3 Here’s what that means:
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If you were to compare any two Seattleites at random, there’s about a 79 percent chance they were born in different areas of the country or the world.
The two cities ranked ahead of us are Las Vegas, followed by Colorado Springs, Colo.
I used the same formula to calculate the geographic diversity index that researchers use to determine racial diversity, but instead of using data on race, I plugged in place of birth.
The index ranges from 0 to 100. In a high-scoring city, there’s a more even mix in the geographic origins of the population — no single place of birth dominates. At the other end, if most folks come from the same place, that city’s index score will be low.
Like Detroit, for example. The data show it’s the least geographically diverse big city — three out of four inhabitants of the Motor City are Michigan-born.
In contrast, just 38 percent of Seattle residents are native Washingtonians. That puts Seattle as fourth lowest among the 50 big cities for the percentage of people born in-state.
New York City may be famous as a magnet for people from around the country and the globe, but the Big Apple outstrips Seattle with a significantly higher concentration of residents born in-state — 48 percent.
Also notable, Seattle has a higher percent of Midwesterners than any West Coast city, at about 11 percent of the city’s population.
But here’s a surprise. Even though it might seem as if everybody in Seattle is from California, we only rank fourth for the percentage of residents born in the West, but out-of-state. Las Vegas, Portland and Mesa, Ariz., are the top three, in that order.
One area of the globe not well-represented in Seattle is Latin America — just about 2 percent of our population. Only Atlanta ranks below us.
Here is what I found after calculating a geographic diversity index for every census tract in Seattle:
• Most diverse: downtown between the waterfront and Fifth Avenue (which includes Pike Place Market), with a score of 86.
• Least diverse: the Fauntleroy neighborhood in West Seattle, with an index score of 59. This area is heavily weighted with Washingtonians — more than 60 percent of its residents are born in-state.
The data also reveal where people from other states and countries have settled in Seattle.
Want to kvetch about the Seattle Freeze with folks from back East? Capitol Hill is your best bet. Nearly one in five residents in the heart of the Hill were born in the Northeast.
If you find yourself near the Amazon headquarters, you might notice folks speaking with the trace of a drawl. That’s because 16 percent of South Lake Union residents were born in the South, the highest concentration in the city.
Midwesterners, on the other hand, are drawn to Fremont, where they comprise 19 percent of the neighborhood.
The Chinatown/International District lives up to its name: It’s the top city neighborhood for foreign-born residents, who represent 60 percent of its population.
But Seattle’s most Euro neighborhood? It may not be the sleepy Scandinavian fishing village of yore, but with one in 10 residents born in Europe, central Ballard still holds the title.