When it comes to racial diversity, how do neighborhoods on the Eastside compare with those in the city of Seattle?

In my last column, I used the new 2020 census data on race and ethnicity to calculate a “diversity index” for census tracts in Seattle. I heard from a number of readers requesting the same analysis of their suburban neighborhoods. In this column, I’ll look at diversity on the other side of Lake Washington.

The diversity index measures how likely it is that two people who live in the same place, chosen at random, would be of different races. The higher the score, the more diverse the place is. A low score means most residents are of the same race.

A note about the data

To calculate the index, I used the Census Bureau’s racial/ethnic categories (white, Black, Asian, Native American/Alaska Native, Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, multiracial, and some other race) plus Hispanic ethnicity. I treated Hispanic as a racial category, in line with American cultural perceptions (the Census Bureau, though, considers Hispanic as an ethnicity distinct from racial identity). It should also be noted that these racial/ethnic categories are very broad, encompassing people of many different backgrounds and experiences. Within each of these groups there exists a tremendous amount of cultural diversity.

We saw in Seattle a significant number of neighborhoods with very little racial diversity, and a significant number with a great deal of diversity. More than 10% of the city census tracts had an index score lower than 40, and more than 10% had a diversity score of 70 or higher.

Diversity on the Eastside looks quite different. There is a greater concentration of census tracts clustered in the middle, with index scores in the mid-50s to mid-60s, with only a few tracts on either the high or low end of the scale.


The reason behind this difference is that Seattle has a much larger number of neighborhoods with a fairly even mix of white, Asian, Black and Hispanic people — this results in very high diversity-index score.

The Eastside is predominantly white and Asian. Compared with Seattle, it doesn’t have many neighborhoods with significant numbers of Hispanic or Black residents. That’s why fewer Eastside areas received very high diversity-index scores.

However, Seattle also has far more areas that have very little diversity. In one-third of Seattle census tracts, the white population makes up more than 70% of the total, which results in a low diversity-index score.

The Eastside doesn’t have nearly so many neighborhoods that are dominated by a single racial group, compared with Seattle. That’s because so many Eastside neighborhoods have large populations of both white and Asian residents.

The most diverse census tract on the Eastside is also the only one with an index score of 70 or higher (Seattle has 20 such tracts). It’s located on the eastern side of the Crossroads neighborhood in Bellevue, and it has a diversity-index score of 71.4. This tract includes the Crossroads shopping mall.

The Crossroads neighborhood is home to many immigrant communities, and has the highest percentage of foreign-born people in King County. Census data shows that Asian people are the largest racial group in this census tract, at 37%, followed by white people (33%) and Hispanic people (19%). Black people make up 6% of the population, which is the highest percentage of Black residents of any Eastside census tract.


The second most diverse area on the Eastside, with a score of 69.3, is also in Bellevue. It’s in the Lake Hills area, just to the east and south of Kelsey Creek Park. Ranking third, with an index score of 68.1, is Redmond’s Education Hill neighborhood, in the area just south of Redmond High School.

Generally speaking, the farther east you go, the less diverse King County becomes — that’s particularly true of the less densely populated areas east of Sammamish that most of us wouldn’t consider part of the Eastside.

Among the close-in Eastside suburbs, only a few have diversity-index scores in the 30s. The least-diverse area is in the northern part of Union Hill-Novelty Hill, around the Redmond Watershed Preserve. This census tract has an index score of 30.2. White people make up 83% of the population, followed by Asian people (9%) and multiracial people (4%).

The next least-diverse tract includes the eastern edge of Issaquah, as well as Tiger Mountain State Forest, with a diversity-index score of 32.1. Following that is a tract in the Cottage Lake area, with an index score of 35.

Correction: A previous version of the map on this column included an incorrect scale.

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