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August 27, 2007

New Book Finds Racial Segregation Persists in East Coast "Megalopolis"

“Liquid City” is the first book to examine the social, economic and demographic changes in one of the largest city regions of the world over the past half century.

CONTACT: Kavan Peterson
Office: 410-455-1896

BALTIMORE – Nearly one in six Americans lives in “Megalopolis,” the densely-populated Northeast corridor along I-95 from Boston to Washington, D.C. A new book examining the evolution of the “Main Street of the Nation” finds that high rates of racial segregation have remained a stubbornly solid fact of metropolitan life over the past half century.

In “Liquid City: Megalopolis and the Contemporary Northeast”, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Professor John Rennie Short finds that all racial groups maintained high rates of segregation since 1960 despite massive changes in population growth and distribution.

Most striking are findings that blacks and whites have become much more segregated today than in 1960, “a staggering finding given the decline of many of the formal and explicit practices of racial discrimination,” wrote Short.

Short offers a new analysis of segregation by examining spatial distribution of racial groups down to the county level throughout the Northeast. He found increased segregation between blacks and whites from 1960 to 2000; stable and high levels for whites and Asians, blacks and Asians, and blacks and Hispanics; and a slight decline in segregation levels between whites and Hispanics, likely due to the recent influx of new Hispanic immigrants.

Short examines how racial prejudice and outright housing discrimination helped entrench racial segregation as blacks migrated to Northeastern urban centers and whites fled to the suburbs. Suburbanization of good blue-collar jobs and the deindustrialization of cities created a stark urban underclass which persists today, especially in majority-black cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

“Lack of jobs, services and poor education made it increasingly difficult for the next generation living in central city Megalopolis to move up and out, creating funnels of failures that persist today,” Short said.

Geographer Jean Gottman used the term "Megalopolis" to denote the Boston-to-Washington corridor in 1957 in his seminal book, “Megalopolis: The Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States.” In Liquid City, Short juxtaposes Gottman's work with his own examination of the region's social, economic and demographic evolution. Particularly important is Short's use of the 2000 census data and his discussion of Megalopolis as a source of identity for the area's forty-nine million inhabitants.

The book focuses on five main aspects of change in the region: population redistribution from cities to suburbs; economic restructuring as exemplified by the suburbanization of employment; the role of immigration; patterns of racial/ethnic segregation; and the processes of globalization that have made Megalopolis one of the world's most influential economies.

Liquid City: Megalopolis and the Contemporary Northeast” is published by Resources For the Future Press.


About the author

John Rennie Short is a professor of Geography and Public Policy at UMBC, where he specializes in urban issues and globalization. He has published twenty-eight books and numerous academic papers and has received research awards from the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Geographic Society, and the Social Science Research Council.

Posted by kavan at August 27, 2007 10:21 AM