Poughkeepsie: A City Divided

Areas north of the east – west arterial have lower median incomes than those in the island created by the arterial and south of the arterial.

In this post on Mid-Hudson Currents, the Benjamin Center (at SUNY New Paltz) Blog, Senior Research Associate, Joshua Simons, outlines the geographic and socioeconomic divides in the City of Poughkeepsie through a series of maps. “It is striking how the physical barriers of the highways conform so closely to how the city is divided racially, ethnically, and economically,” Simons writes, referring to the divisions between communities on different sides of Route 9 and the east-west (US-44/ NY-55) arterial. 

Using Census block-level data, the maps illustrate the divides in income (above) and race. Higher-income neighborhoods are concentrated south of the east-west arterial and lower-income neighborhoods north of the arterial.  The maps also show that the white population of the city is concentrated in the south, blacks in the north, and Hispanics in the “island” between the eastbound and westbound arterial (which includes the Main Street corridor). 

While east-west arterial reinforces economic, ethnic, and racial divides in Poughkeepsie, such divides are not unique to it.  In a 2012 study conducted by the Pew Center, researchers found that residential segregation by income increased 1980 and 2010 in 27 of the nation’s 30 largest major metropolitan areas.  

Between 1980 and 2010, majority lower income neighborhoods became more populated with lower-income households, and majority upper-income neighborhoods became more populated with upper-income households.

According to this study’s findings, 28% of lower-income households in 2010 were located in a majority lower-income census tracts (up from 23% in 1980), and that 18% of upper-income households were located in a majority upper-income census tract (up from 9% in 1980).  This has led to fewer neighborhoods comprised of predominantly middle class or mixed income and a rise in those that are majority lower income and majority upper income. 

In other words, most major cities are becoming more divided into predominantly poor and rich neighborhoods, with fewer middle class households. 


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