Mapping Poverty in the St. Louis Metro 1980-2010

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STL Metro Poverty via Atlantic Cities

nextSTL has covered the issue of poverty in the St. Louis area in a number of ways: asking how increasing suburban poverty might play a role in increased City of St. Louis and St. Louis County cooperation, using satire to expose the lack of regional understading, and featuring The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, Mapping Decline and the Spanish Lake film. The numbers surrounding the issue of poverty in the St. Louis area are about what one might expect. The latest Census revealed the City had a poverty rate of more than 24%, well above the 13% national average. Meanwhile St. Charles County was one of only 19 counties in the nation with a poverty rate below 5%.

The numbers, of course, were immediately abused, with the St. Charles County Executive proudly stating that the residents in his jurisdiction have avoided behavior that leads to poverty. In the satiracal piece announcing the merger of St. Charles County and the City of St. Louis, he didn't really say, "St. Charles County now has a professional baseball team, an incredible architectural legacy and mass transit, but we don't have to live right next to it." The fake quote does, however, highlight that while the city's amenities are shared with the region, the challenge of poverty is not. This is changing as the map here demonstrate. The images here are from The Atlantic's interactive map (below) illustrating changes in poverty from the 1980 Census through the 2010 Census using a slidebar.

STL Metro Poverty via Atlantic Cities

Looking at the map below, it's easy to see the rapid dispersion of poverty from 1980 to 2010 in the St. Louis region. While the map continues to change, the most rapid dispersion appears to have occured from 1990 to 2000. The City map may appear to have changed to greatest, but a glance at the Spanish Lake area of North St. Louis County, and even St. Charles County, show the growth of poverty outside the urban core. Check out the interactive map below for more views of St. Louis and other cities.

STL Metro Poverty via Atlantic Cities
{the City of St. Louis poverty – 1980 (left) and 2010 (right)}

STL Metro Poverty via Atlantic Cities
{North St. Louis County poverty – 1980 (left) and 2010 (right)}

STL Metro Poverty via Atlantic Cities
{St. Charles County poverty – 1980 (left) and 2010 (right)}

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  • marigolds6

    Ran across an interesting technique called s-index surfaces for mapping this specific statistic (economic segregation). I’ll research it more and send you what I find after I get back from the esriuc.

  • Guest

    A minor qui

  • Presbyterian

    A few observable stories, comparing 1980 to 2010:

    1. The gentrification of Benton Park has been completed in one generation. Look at the north-south “line” that is Jefferson. In 2010, Jefferson is a more stark socio-economic dividing line than Delmar ever was. East of Jefferson, no poverty.

    2. The under-the-radar African American gentrification of the West End. Look between Delmar and M.L.K. west of Union.
    A. In 1980, that was a high-poverty area.
    B. The neighborhood is probably as African American as it was in 1980.
    C. This has not been a white invasion.
    D. And the drop in poverty can’t be blamed on demolitions in contrast to the near North Side.

    The reason the Gotham can be built today is because it now backs up to a relatively low-poverty neighborhood… an increasinly professional, middle-class and largely African American gentrified neighborhood.

    3. The racial shift of Dutchtown and Benton Park West. Poor whites in 1980 have been replaced by poor blacks. The map suggests less a socio-economic shift than an ethnic one.

    4. The migration of the poor to North County. This isn’t a novel idea, but the map data does confirm it.

    5. The de-population of the Near North side. The building inhabited by the poor in 1980 had been demolished long before 2010. You cannot blame Paul McKee for that.

    • Danny

      1. The shifts in the West End and Benton Park do seem pretty amazing. The Beacon put out a good article on housing development efforts of the 90s and 00s in these two neighborhoods awhile back. https://www.stlbeacon.org/#!/content/28977/voices_stein_winter_housing_012113

      2. At the same time, the upward shift of the poverty rates in Benton Park West, Dutchtown, Gravois Park, etc., as you mentioned, seems equally troubling. And though I do so a racial shift in poverty in these areas, it seems that much more importantly, overall poverty has increased. It appears, just by the map, that there is a higher incidence, and possibly concentration, of poverty in these neighborhoods than anywhere else in the city today.

      3. Does anyone recognize that rather large square in the middle of the northside in the 1980s with no population? I recognize some large plots like Fairgrounds Park, O’Fallon Park, and Pruitt-Igoe with no population, but the square I’m talking about appears to be the footprint of the Ville. Was no data collected in that neighborhood in 1980?

      • Presbyterian

        I had noticed the big blank square in north city, but I had assumed it was Sherman Park. Looking now, I see the square is east of Kingshighway and north of MLK… definitely The Ville. I was wrong on that one.

        I know The Ville was overwhelmingly professional and middle class in the 1950 but in bad shape by 1990. Does anyone know how it fared in 1980? I read that it had lost 26% of its population, but I can’t find any information about the poverty rate in 1980.

        • Alex Ihnen

          The square does appear to be The Ville and Greater Ville – not sure why there’s no data there for 1980, clearly a glitch in the data.

      • dempster holland

        I think what basically happened in the last 30 years was
        that the black middle class moved from north st louis to
        north and north-central counry, while the black working
        class moved to s st louis east of kingshighway

  • John R

    Well, judging from recent, abhorent behavior demonstrated by Saint Charles County residents, Ehlmann better call a time out and huddle up everyone. Top of the ledger is the mom who allegedly sent her baby to be raped by her known to be sexual predator boyfriend. And just today was the announcement of murder charges for the guys who ran over another kid during a drug deal gone bad. At least Ehlmann is against TIFs; otherwise he a moron spouting off stupidity.

  • Shan_duh

    Looks just like the crime stats map. Coinicidence?

    • Alex Ihnen

      No. There’s a well-documented correlation between poverty and crime.

      • RobbyD

        Pretty sure you just slandered tens of thousands of mothers and fathers all across North County. And made a racist, paternalistic slap at an entire class of people.

        Are poor people the problem, or are drug/gang thugs the problem? IMO, there are too many government and parochial options available for the poor to blame crime on poverty in this nation. In fact, since the Great Recession, overall crime has continued to decline. I mean, crime rates in Haiti are lower than surrounding wealthier nations.

        Crime is always the result of an immoral individual, rich or poor, who chooses to not follow legitimate law.

        • Presbyterian

          In fairness, he noted a documented correlation… not a causation.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Sorry, I think you read this wrong.