Abstract - Race, Ethnicity and Place Conference

Title: Race and Space in First-Tier Suburbs: New Patterns of Suburban
Author: Thomas J. Vicino
Affiliation: University of Texas at Arlington
Abstract: Since 1970, first-tier suburbs have experienced socioeconomic decline
and an influx of minority populations. This study examines racial change in the
Baltimore metropolitan area, a typical post-industrial region. Using the
“Neighborhood Change Database” provided a novel opportunity to study racial
change at the census, place and tract levels. This tool normalizes census tract
boundaries over three decades. Indices of segregation and dissimilarity were
calculated to obtain measures of segregation over time. Additionally, location
quotients were also calculated and then mapped using GIS technology to show
areas of minority residential concentration. Baltimore’s 21 first-tier suburbs are
highly segregated and show evidence of White flight. There were uneven spatial
patterns among blacks and whites in the suburban first-tier. Evidence of an influx of blacks during the 1980s and 1990s demonstrates the emergence of a
“suburban black belt” along the western suburban fringe of the Baltimore region.
In contrast, “blue collar suburbs” along the eastern suburban fringe remained
overwhelmingly white. This study reinforces the notion that the measurement of
segregation is scalar specific so that within certain suburbs, the entering minority
population is segregated into specific neighborhoods. This spatial dichotomy
undermines the stability of Baltimore’s already fragile first-tier suburbs and
challenges the place and economy. The results suggest that regional policies to
promote residential integration among or within first-tier suburbs might stabilize
the socioeconomic decline of suburbs.