Research conducted by Aleesha Liu, Kara Teel, Jami Houser, Ean Patrick
Our group chose to research the neighborhoods of Omaha, primarily focusing on the income, race and crime distribution. We chose to research this topic because from our personal experiences, we as a group have noticed that Omaha has trends of stratification throughout the metro area. In light of recent issues regarding inequalities throughout the country, it caused us to take a deeper look at how inequalities within our own city compares to the state and nation as a whole.
In order to compare the racial distribution of our chosen neighborhoods, we were required to use the corresponding zip codes. By using the zip codes, we were able to collect data from the United States Census. The first zip code we observed was 68135, which represented Cinnamon Ridge in West Omaha. As you can see in the chart above, this area is completely dominated by whites. The next zip code, 68111, represents North 30th Street and Ames Avenue. This neighborhood is dominated primarily by African Americans. Zip code 68132 represents the Central Omaha and Dundee Area. This area is populated by primarily whites, with little racial distribution. The downtown Old Market area is represented by the zip code 68102, and is the most racially integrated neighborhood compared to the other four areas. The final zip code is 68105, which corresponds to the Spring Lake area in South Omaha. This area is predominately Hispanic or Latino. From what we observed, Omaha is largely stratified primarily in these five regions. After analyzing our research, we have found the racial stereotypes of Omaha to be true. Specific races are more dominant in certain areas of Omaha, i.e. North Omaha is primarily African American and the majority of South Omaha residents are Hispanic. We have found through our research that race distribution coincides with wealth distribution as well as crime rates.
Comparison: Omaha Crime Rate per Capita and U.S. Average
We were interested to see how Omaha has compared with the rest of the United States in terms of crime rate over the last several years. From the years 2000 to 2012, Omaha has had a higher crime rate per capita than the U.S. average every single year. As shown in Graph 3, there has mostly been a trend of a dropping crime rate for both Omaha and the U.S. average. Omaha’s crime rate has gone down every year since 2000, but increased a little in 2011 and 2012, while the U.S. average crime rate has dropped slightly every year. One could make the prediction that segregation and concentrated poverty could be an important factor in Omaha’s high crime rate.
We were interested to see the difference in the number of crimes committed in neighborhoods representative of the five zip-codes that we have researched. In order to get an idea of the crime activity in each neighborhood, we used www.crimemapping.com, a site recommended on the Omaha Police Department website to examine on-going crime trends and enforcement activities.
First, we used Google Maps and City-Data.com to find the boundaries of each neighborhood we analyzed. There are many different maps for the neighborhoods, and not all of them cover the same area. Thus, the crime statistics for each neighborhood are based on the map that is shown below the bolded name of the neighborhood, community area, and zip-code. The maps show all of the major crime activity (assaults; burglaries; homicides; robberies; sex crimes; thefts; vehicle break-ins/thefts; vehicle thefts) between March 1, 2015 and April 1, 2015.
The Spring Lake area in South Omaha (68108) covers the streets west and northeast of Spring Lake Park. The specific streets we examined were South 24th Street east to South 13th Street, and from Interstate 80 to Highway 275. This area had the second fewest number of crimes with nine. The crimes ranged from thefts to assaults to one vehicle theft.
*Note: The data recorded for the Spring Lake neighborhood in South Omaha was focused on the residential areas adjacent to Spring Lake Park, in addition to the park itself.(Refer to Graph 4).
The Cinnamon Creek area in West Omaha (68135) had the least amount of crime activity out of all of the sections of Omaha that we examined. This area stretched from 180th Street east to168th street, and Q Street south to Harrison Street. There were two crimes committed within the two week period — a vehicle break-in, and a robbery. (Refer to Graph 5).
The Dundee area in Central Omaha (68132) covers the streets east of Elmwood Park and Memorial Park all the way to 46th street, and from Hamilton Street south to Leavenworth Street. There were 32 crimes committed in the two week period, the second highest number of crimes out of the areas we focused on. The crimes mostly consisted of thefts and vehicle thefts. (Refer to Graph 6).
The area that we chose to represented East Omaha (68102) is the Old Market. The Old Market covers South 13th Street east to South 10th Street, and from Farnam Street south to Jackson Street. There were 22 crimes committed in this area ranging from assaults to thefts. (Refer to Graph 7).
This North 30th Street and Ames Avenue area in North Omaha (68111) covers the stretch from Fontenelle Boulevard east to 30th Avenue, and from Camden Avenue south to Sprague Street. In the two weeks, there were 34 crimes committed in this area, which was the most out of all the areas we focused on. The crimes mostly consisted of assaults and thefts. (Refer to Graph 8).
In investigating the number of crimes for each sample area within the larger zip-code, we found that North Omaha, Central Omaha, and East Omaha had the most crimes in the two week window that we keyed in on. The sample neighborhoods do not necessarily represent the whole section of the zip-code, but our aim was to get as close to this as possible.
Another variable that must be taken into account is that some crimes may be happen in an area where the person who committed the crime does not live. It is important to consider this variable when comparing the income and race to crime.
Wealth Distribution is varied significantly throughout Omaha. Generally you can see that the further west you move out the greater the average household income. Most neighborhoods had many different segments of different incomes. The most significant differentiation was in the 68132 and 68111 areas. Wealth distribution relates to sociology in many ways. It affects the other topics we talk about in this project and is directly related to them. In class we talked about topics like population, urbanization, demography and economies. Around Omaha the communities with higher incomes opposed to the lower incomes have a generally higher concentration of white people as the lower income neighborhoods have a higher concentration of African American and Hispanic people. Amongst another factor that is interesting is that the area code of 68132 had the most crimes in the given time period with a total of 32. The area code with the least amount of crimes in the given time was 68135 with only 2. This directly correlates to wealth because as wealth goes up crime rate goes down, and as wealth goes down crime rates goes up.
NATIONAL COMPARISON CONCLUSION
Compared to a national and state level Omaha is similar in the fact that it predominantly white, with a significant gap between white and other ethnic groups. As you can see on the second graph, Omaha tends to follow the same trends with race distribution as Nebraska and the United States. Several differences to note would be that Omaha has a higher African American population than the Nebraska average, and a lower Hispanic population than the Nebraska average. This would indicate several important things, such as one could infer that a large portion of Nebraska’s African American population is condensed within Omaha, and the opposite holds true for Hispanic and Latino Americans. Since Nebraska has a higher overall average it would indicate the Hispanic population would be more dispersed over Nebraska. This is an interesting sign to note of the migration patterns as Hispanics move out across the state toward more small rural towns, and African Americans move toward the more urbanized hubs of the state. Nationally, the United States is similar in the fact that highly urbanized and large cities reflect a more condensed and high population of African Americans and the pattern of Hispanics generally moving to more rural farming areas of states.
From our findings it was evident that the segregation of Omaha neighborhoods is reflective of a larger nation-wide mindset. The United States as a whole remains stratified by race (i.g. the South has a larger African American population, Western states such as Texas, California and Nevada have a largely Hispanic population, etc.) and this idea has permeated its way through the state-level down to individual communities. While Omaha is a growing and thriving city, there are clear cut racial lines that speak volumes to the attitudes and ideals of it’s citizens.
The distribution of race, crime and wealth are all interdependent on each other. Predictably, the neighborhoods that had a higher percentage of white citizens reported less crimes, and a higher wealth income and distribution than those neighborhoods that were predominately African American or Hispanic. The high population of African Americans or Hispanics equaled elevated crime rates and lower income. This data only reinforces the stereotypical ideas many people associate with certain areas in Omaha, such as “North Omaha is where black people who are violent and poor live.” Because majority of the wealth lies in areas that are father west and predominately white it becomes exceedingly difficult to bridge gaps between neighborhoods. This tells us that the stereotypes of Omaha areas are rooted in deeper issues. The inequality has created lines throughout our city that need to be addressed. While we as a group may not have a specific answer or solution to unite the different areas of Omaha, it is the responsibility of those who call Omaha home to seek change. Now is the time to start having serious conversations about the challenges and inequalities our city faces in regards to race, wealth and crime and collectively work together to create a solution for the betterment of our community.
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