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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

Mapping Race and Segregation in Spokane, Washington

In 1970, the population of Spokane County was 98% White. Less than 3,000 African Americans, 2,000 Indigenous Americans, and 1,800 Asian Americans endured intense discrimination that limited employment and housing opportunities. A small area in East Central Spokane that had recently been bisected by the I-90 freeway was the primary neighborhood for families of color; except for those stationed at Fairchild Air Base. A vigorous civil rights movement helped Spokane diversify and desegregate since the 1970s. But as shown on these maps, it has been a slow process. Move through the decades.Select a race category, either by number of residents or percentage. Click a census tract for detailed information. These maps are hosted by Tableau Public and may take a few seconds to respond. If slow, refresh the page.


Notes: Data are from the National Historic Geographic Information System (IPUMS). The most recent data is labeled 2020* but to improve accuracy we use an average of five Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) samples from 2018-2022.

Race categories and census tracts: The Census Bureau adds and adjusts the boundaries of census tracts nearly every decade. It also changes the data it reports and the racial categories. For 1940, all nonwhites were reported as a combined category. In 1950, this became two categories, “Negroes” and “Other races.” Since most of the “others” would have been Japanese, Chinese, and Filipinos with small numbers of Native Americans, we relabeled this as “Asian/other races.” It was not until 1970 that a reliable set of questions identified people of Hispanic heritage. That is also when Indigenous Americans were first identified in census tract data.

Credits: These maps and tables were created by Anna Yoon, Brian Lam, Gihoon Du, Jiang Wu, and Yurika Harada using data and shape files from the National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS). The work was a class project for Geography 469 GIS Workshop taught by Professor Sarah Elwood-Faustino Spring 2017. James Gregory added the 2020 maps.

Source: calculated from Steven Manson, Jonathan Schroeder, David Van Riper, and Steven Ruggles. IPUMS National Historical Geographic Information System: Version 12.0 [Database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. 2017.


Race and Segregation in Washington Cities and Counties 1940-2019

See these maps of race and segregation for other Washington counties.

Tacoma 1950-2019
Spokane 1950-2019
Everett 1960-2019
Vancouver/Clark County 1960-2019
Tri-Cities 1970-2019
Seattle/King County 1940-2019