- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2001

BALTIMORE Baltimore remains one of America's most racially segregated major cities despite improvement over the past decade, an Associated Press review of census numbers shows.
Data from the 2000 Census indicate the city's blacks and whites are nearly 78 percent segregated on a block-by-block basis. In 1990, that number was just over 83 percent.
Among cities with more than 100,000 residents, Baltimore ranked 26th in segregation between blacks and whites.
"Segregation is high, but it is slowly declining," said John Logan, director of the State University of New York's Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research. "In that respect, Baltimore is following the national trend."
The segregation indicator is the "dissimilarity index," a gauge that measures the degree to which a city's black, Asian or Hispanic residents are integrated with its white, non-Hispanic population.
Essentially, 78 percent of Baltimore's black population would have to move in order for every neighborhood in the city to have the same percentage of blacks as the city overall, 64 percent.
A city with a dissimilarity index of 100 for a given racial or ethnic group would be completely segregated; an index of zero for a racial or ethnic group would indicate a city of perfectly balanced blocks.
Since 1990, Baltimore has lost tens of thousands of citizens both black and white reducing the total population to 651,154 from 736,014, a decline of nearly 12 percent.
It trails only St. Louis and Washington among large cities in percentage population declines since 1990.
Non-Hispanic whites who in 1990 made up 38.6 percent of Baltimore's total population now comprise slightly more than 30 percent. In the last decade alone, more than 82,000 whites have left the city, compared with 17,000 blacks, which has increased the percentage of blacks overall to just over 64 percent.
On the surface, Baltimore's segregation level has improved, but the figure needs to be considered in light of the rapid drop in white residents.
"It really did not change the experience of the average black person," Mr. Logan said. "Although segregation declined, the loss of white population in neighborhoods that have become more 'integrated' means blacks are no more exposed to whites than 20 years ago."
City living for whites, however, has changed dramatically, Mr. Logan said.
"Although whites are leaving, the ones left are living in neighborhoods that are not as white as they used to be," he said. "It is a real change for the whites that have remained in the city."
According to New York University professor Ingrid Gould Ellen, Baltimore's closest demographic comparisons are other Northeast industrial cities especially Philadelphia. To a lesser extent, Baltimore can be compared to its closest metropolitan neighbor, Washington: Both have large black populations and saw massive overall population declines in the 1990s.
"Technically, Baltimore may be in the South, but it looks a lot like the Northeast cities," she said. "The politics, the declining manufacturing base, the population it all mirrors other northern cities."
Philadelphia's segregation rate was slightly higher than Baltimore's, at 81 percent. Washington's was even higher at more than 83 percent.
Mr. Logan cautioned against reading too much into those incremental differences.
"It really does not mean anything unless you are talking about figures much, much further apart," he said. "All of these cities are far higher than the national average."
One expert said Baltimore has long been one of the most segregated cities in the country, a legacy that can be traced back to slavery.
"It does not surprise me that Baltimore is a hypersegregated city," said Charles Christian, a social and population geographer at the University of Maryland, College Park. "What surprises me, frankly, is the decline in segregation."

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