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A City Divided: A Brief History of Segregation in Buffalo

Date: May 7, 2018
Author(s): Anna Blatto
Topic(s): Data / Demographics / History: Buffalo History
Type: Report

This policy report was drafted by Anna Blatto, a senior at the University at Buffalo. It explores the history of segregation in Buffalo and offers policy suggestions for the years ahead. 

Buffalo-Niagara is one of the most racially segregated metropolitan regions in the nation. While racial segregation has declined slightly in recent years, economic segregation has increased, resulting in neighborhood conditions growing worse – not better – for most people of color in the region. Segregation imposes a wide range of costs on people of color, impairing their health, education, job access, and wealth. Individuals living in segregated neighborhoods tend to have less access to services that allow adequate standards of living, and their economic mobility is severely impaired.

SEGREGATION IN ERIE COUNTY

  • White people are 76% of the Erie County population but only 45% of the City of Buffalo population.
  • Black people are 13% of the Erie County population but 37% of the City of Buffalo population.

SEGREGATION IN THE CITY OF BUFFALO

  •  Of all people who identify as black within the City of Buffalo, roughly 85% live east of Main Street.

JOB ACCESS

  • Of the five major employment centers in Erie County, only one is located within the City of Buffalo.

FOOD ACCESS

  • In Buffalo, there are 51 Census block groups that have limited access to supermarkets. Every single one is located east of Main Street.

As cities like Buffalo experience new economic development efforts, those concentrated in segregated neighborhoods may not benefit from positive changes being made elsewhere. In this report, we offer a snapshot of segregation in the region and explore some of the policies and practices that created it.