Answer to Map #92

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Answer: This week’s map was a choropleth showing the percentage of people in each community district of New York who have limited English proficiency.

The data used to make this map came from the Community District Portal run by New York City’s Department of City Planning. That site will give you all kinds of statistics about New York City’s demographics. The part of New York City where you will find the most people who cannot speak English proficiently is Queens 4, which contains the Elmhurst neighborhood where many people are immigrants from China. In that community district, 52.0% of residents are not proficient in English. On the other hand, the community district where the lower percentage of people don’t know English is Manhattan 6 (the eastern part of Midtown) at 5.8%.s

New York is an extremely diverse city that attracts immigrants from around the world. Some of these immigrants are proficient in English, and some are not. But they aren’t distributed evenly throughout the city. Instead, on this map, you can clearly see pockets of areas where large numbers of people are not proficient in English. In most such areas, this is because those people speak another extremely common language instead, especially Chinese or Spanish. The areas that stand out the most on this map are areas where Chinese is common. You can see how much Manhattan’s original Chinatown in the southeastern part of the island still attracts individuals who are not proficient in English, but the even more pronounced areas are the newer Chinatowns of Flushing and Elmhurst in Queens and various areas in Brooklyn.

Some of you guessed that this map depicted New Yorkers born in other countries. This was a pretty good guess; after all, the linguistic patterns clearly track immigration patterns. But there are some subtle reasons why this guess is not correct. For starters, there are plenty of people who have moved to New York City from English-speaking countries. More useful for deciphering this map, there are also lots of people who are not immigrants from foreign countries who nonetheless speak Spanish. You’ll notice that East Harlem is fairly dark on this map, at least by Manhattan standards. This is a neighborhood with a huge Puerto Rican population.

The keys to solving this map, as we pointed out in the hints, were Brooklyn 15 and Bronx 12. These were two community districts that stand out as dramatically different from Map #14a, our previous map of the white population of New York City. Brooklyn 15 is home to a large Russian immgirant population: white, but with a high proportion of people who are not proficient in English. Bronx 12 is home to a huge African-American population: non-white, but almost universally proficient in English.

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