Lying with Maps

Similar to last week, this post is about manipulations of statistics in terms of how they are presented. However, instead of charts, this post focuses on cartography: MAPS. In this case, data was drawn from

Using the same data, these maps were made to show the same information in different ways. Unlike the charts, both of these maps illustrate completely different situations.

Using “Buckets” on Google Fusion tables, shows a stark contrast of mostly white suburbs in a ring around higher percent minority areas in the center.

Using “Gradient” on Google Fusion tables, the map created is able to illustrate a larger amount of racial diversity and integration in the area.

This post seconds the prior post to warn consumers of knowledge to be skeptical when being presented with maps in the media and in research. Look at legends and keys being presented and the colors being utilized.

Lying with Statistics

This post is about manipulations of statistics in terms of how they are presented. In this case, data was drawn from

Jack Dougherty, Jesse Wanzer ’08, and Christina Ramsay ’09. “Sheff v. O’Neill: Weak Desegregation Remedies and Strong Disincentives in Connecticut, 1996-2008.” In From the Courtroom to the Classroom: The Shifting Landscape of School Desegregation, edited by Claire Smrekar and Ellen Goldring, 103–127. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2009.

Using the same data, the following line charts were created. The data and x-axis were kept constant to show the importance of the y-axis values, specifically the minimum and maximums though the increments of the y-axis are also important.


Percent of Hartford minorities in reduced-isolation settings

The first graph lists percentages up to 100% (complete integration) in increments of 10. In this chart, minimal progress is revealed (though the goal of Sheff II is only a modest 30%).



This graph shows leaps of progress with a deceptive minimum of 10% and maximum of 18% with increments of 2. In this way, the line seems to increase dramatically though the graph above illustrates this isn’t so.


Question what is being measured and reported when “consuming” statistics. Do test scores show ‘education’ rate? Is there something to be noted about whether suburban residents are coming into urban schools or vice versa? The starting point, the target goal, and actual possibilities of racial integration need to all be taken account.

Should these charts show the goal result as the maximum or to give context? What increments would be most illustrative of the progress of Sheff I and Sheff II remedies?

The goal of this post to the public is to warn consumers of knowledge to be skeptical when being presented with statistics in the media and in research. Look out for what exactly is being reported (progress from a starting point versus progress from zero) and how certain variables are being defined and presented.

Sheff I and Sheff II

1. What were the goals of Sheff I?

        What happened as a result of Sheff I?

 Who, if anyone, benefitted from the results of Sheff I?

                               Use the visuals from to justify your answer.

2. How did Sheff II propose to solve the problems unsolved by Sheff I?

3. Do you think Sheff II has been or will be more effective?

4. Do you feel there was a punishment for the goals not being met after Sheff I? What would be a reasonable punishment (and applied to whom) if Sheff II goals are not met by 2013?

Are Racial Demographics in the Hands of Realtors?

A Closer Look at Racial Steering and Blockbusting in the Hartford area
Throughout the past 50 years, real estate agents played a prominent role in racial segregation through the practices of steering and blockbusting in housing. In Connecticut, these practices had a clear impact on the racial composition of the greater Hartford area.The map of Racial Change in the Hartford region from 1900-2010 illustrates a non-white population appearing isolated in the city center of Hartford. Over time, the non-white population in Bloomfield grew, beginning in the 1970s. The composition of the area was affected by realtors in beginning in the 70s, and continue to move in the direction sparked by those brokers. Bloomfield’s non-white population percentage grew over time as whites left and minorities moved to this suburb to relocate from their isolated placement in the center of Hartford.
Blockbusting: An Illustration
Blockbusting practices were one of the determinants to Bloomfield’s racial composition throughout the late 60s and 70s. Roy Litchfield, a white resident of a Bloomfield neighborhood, bought his home in 1968. In the Hartford Courant, Litchfield reported calls from agents urging him to sell his home at a lower rate as non-whites moved into the area. Real estate agents scared white residents, claiming integration would lead to decreased property values; this tactic led to “panic selling.” In turn, the agent would sell the home above market value to black homebuyers. Agents maximized profit by buying low and selling high, due to the small supply of homes where blacks could live without being harassed or even legally restricted.
Racial Steering
Related to blockbusting, racial steering involved real estate agents directing people of certain races to specific areas. One white homebuyer, John Keever, reported an agent’s behavior to the Hartford Courant. Keever explained how the agent praised about Avon and West Hartford. In contrast, the agent talked negatively about Bloomfield and its schools systems. Keever claimed that the agent may have been afraid to insult clients by taking them to integrated neighborhoods. The stereotypes real estate agents have and perpetuate in their selling behaviors led to racially isolated neighborhoods as seen in the map below. Racial steering was a large factor of racial segregation in the past and continue to impact housing situations present day.
Impacting Today
Racial steering and blockbusting practices, though illegal, remain present today. A 2003 article in the Hartford Courant discussed implications of racial steering occurring today. Jacobs, a former member of the town council in Windsor, reported seeing a house go through many inhabitants but never shown to white residents.. A quarter of the affluent black population of the Greater Hartford area live primarily in six adjacent geographical units. The past existence of these real estate practices started the patterns of racial segregation, but continuous steering practices prevent integration. In 2003, the Hartford Courant discussed tests using black and white volunteers posing as potential homebuyers with 17% illustrating preference for the white homebuyers. Blockbusting and steering today continue to contribute to the racial segregation and limited opportunities available to non-white populations.

Click for interactive feature and original source.

Click for interactive feature and original source.

Learn more:

Jack Dougherty and colleagues, “Preview Chapter,” On The Line: How schooling, housing, and civil rights shaped Hartford and its suburbs. Web-book preview edition. Hartford, CT: Trinity College, Fall 2011,

Ross, James. “Bloomfield Officials Lead Fight To Keep Town’s Housing Open.” The Hartford Courant (1923-1986), February 24, 1974.

Ross, James. “Realty Agents Blamed for Shift In Bloomfield’s Racial Pattern.” The Hartford Courant (1923-1986). Hartford, Conn., United States, February 24, 1974.

Swift, Mike. “Home Buyers Suspect Racial Steering.” The Hartford Courant, September 8, 2003.

University of Connecticut Libraries Map and Geographic Information Center – MAGIC. (2012).Racial Change in the Hartford Region, 1900-2010. Retrieved from


Literature Search

In his article In Hartford, A map To A Better Way Of Life, Kovner discusses the city’s mapping of nuisance complaints and whether it will lead to more stability through change. Using statistics, the city has mapped out nuisances to aim to bring resources to these areas (Kovner, 2011). This article relates to the idea of income inequality and segregation. Working to improve areas with more issues, which are mapped in lower-income areas, may help bring people to these places and disperse the wealth a bit more. Using the ERIC database, I found an article about Housing Barriers Over Time. While the focal city of the paper was Houston, Texas, I thought maybe it would relate to situations in Hartford. The abstract brings up both residential segregation and housing discrimination as central barriers (Bullard, 1990). I would like to use a website I easily found to understand the paperwork, language, and process of permits, land use, and city planning in current times (City of Hartford: Department Services- Planning Division). I had more trouble finding a book in the catalog online. I think it would be easier to meet with a library aide or go find the books in physical person to see if they havewhat I am looking for. In the end, I found one via the catalog about Zoning and housing costs that discusses land use and housing prices (Sagalyn & Sternlieb, 1972).


Bullard, R. D. (1990). Housing Barriers: Trends in the Nation’s Fourth-Largest City. Journal of Black Studies, 21(1), 4–14.

Department of Development Services – Planning Division. (1924). Retrieved September 21, 2012, from

Kovner, Josh. (2011). In Hartford, A Map To A Better Way Of Life. Retrieved September 21, 2012, from,0,904682.story

Sagalyn, L. B., & Sternlieb, G. (1972). Zoning and housing costs: The impact of land-use controls on housing price. New Brunswick: Center for Urban Policy Research, Rutgers University.

Exclusionary Zoning: Unequal Opportunities

According to Whitten, a West Hartford City planning and zoning consultant in 1924, zoning is “the direction of building development along orderly and well-considered lines of city growth.” At this time, the Zoning Commission of West Hartford claimed that without regulation chaos would occur and zoning prevents waste.

“Exclusionary zoning” includes any practices that may prevent certain populations from being able to live in a specific area. Historically, this has pertained to racial mistreatment and fear of heterogeneity in social spaces like neighborhoods and schools. It is still prevalent today in terms of socioeconomic status and income inequality. This links directly with access to schools and opportunities for socioeconomic advancing.

While zoning is a necessary part of city planning, “exclusionary zoning” occurs and begins to widen gaps of socioeconomic classes by limiting opportunities. Segregation by race and income has been reported as a result of population density regulations through zoning. Researchers at The Brookings Institution analyzed statistics of Housing Costs, Zoning, and School Access to address this vary issue. The statistics are pressing. Near high-scoring public schools, housing costs average 2.4 times the prices around low-scoring public schools. Buying a more expensive house has become directly correlated to buying access to schools. Looking directly at test score gap (measuring the difference in percentile ranking between low and middle to high income), the Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford Area came in second to all national metro areas. Hartford ranked 4th in terms of economic segregation that uses the percentage of students that would need to relocate for equal distribution of students in each school. [2] The map included  is from the Brooking Institution; it has an interactive feature to explore test score gaps based on income or race, income inequality, economic segregation, housing cost gap and school ranking. The map seen here highlights economic segregation in the Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford area, illustrated by the size of the circle. Beneath the map, charts illustrate racial composition, income composition, and school ranking by race and income, respectively. School rankings for middle/high-income are over twice as high as low-income areas. This is a very real depiction of income affecting opportunity for equal education.

[1] Robert Harvey Whitten. West Hartford Zoning: Report to the Zoning Commission on the Zoning of West Hartford. West Hartford, Conn: Zoning Commission, 1924 (courtesy of the Connecticut State Library)


[2] “Interactive: Housing Costs, Zoning and School Access | Brookings Institution.” Web. 17 Sept. 2012.



Housing Stimulation

The housing stimulation was interesting to me, especially when considering interest rates and mortgages. In the end, interest paid was almost 3 times my annual gross income. Then, to look at school districts after selecting houses was very discouraging. First, I found some nice houses (as assessed via pictures) and with accommodating space for a family of four. One house I particularly liked was a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom home in Hartford on Osten Blvd. It fit in my price range ($249,900 asking) and had the space I needed. I found it harder to find a home in the suburbs close enough to my job in Hartford, seeing as I don’t have a car. Also, public transport is not usually available the suburbs. I used school digger and to look into school districts, and I found Hartford and East Hartford districts surprisingly low ranked in terms of teacher: student ratio and test scores. Avon had incredible rankings, however, homes in that area were too expensive and too far to commute to a job in Hartford. West Hartford public schools showed promising statistics, and while homes were affordable close to there, it would still be a commute. In the end, this simulation illustrated to me the outrageous rates of interest to consider when taking out a mortgage, the importance of school districts and available public schooling, and proximity to job opportunities. To live in the suburbs may provide security, seclusion, and better schooling. However, costs of living (groceries, rent, etc). and commuting (gas, car, etc.) should be taken into serious consideration. Income inequality may lead to inequality of educational access, which becomes a serious issue in terms of individuals attempting to improve their lives with the resources their given.