It’s been predicted that by 2050, the vast majority of Americans will be multiracial. In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 6.8 million people identified as more than one race. That figure had increased to nearly 32 percent — 9 million — in 2010.

In some cities, this evolution may take some time, as many communities tend to self-segregate—even if they don’t mean to. But in others, the racial and ethnic makeup of the city that may have defined it a mere 30 years ago has completely changed, and will continue to do so.

Using historical data from The National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) and the United States Census, MooseRoots created a “Diversity Index” to see which cities in America have become the most racially diverse from 1970 to 2010.

To do so, they took the four race classifications from the census: White, Black or African-American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Other Race. They didn’t include multi-racial individuals because the census only began tracking multi-racial demographics in 2000. MooseRoots deemed the most diverse places those where racial makeup approached an even distribution between the four classifications.



Looking at the map, it’s very clear that the Southeast has quickly become more diverse since 1970. The West, on the other hand, has seen less of a spike. This is probably due to the fact that many states in that region of the U.S. were relatively diverse to begin with in the ‘70s, so the increase in racial diversity was more gradual. Here are the that have demographically diversified the most and least:

10. Franklin County

Franklin County became 101.4% more diverse since 1970.


9. Penobscot County

Penobscot County became 101.7% more diverse since 1970.


8. Lincoln County

Lincoln County became 108.0% more diverse since 1970.


7. York County

York County became 115.5% more diverse since 1970.


6. Androscoggin County

Androscoggin County became 117.6% more diverse since 1970.



5. Kennebec County

Kennebec County became 121.1% more diverse since 1970.


4. Washington County

Washington County became 122.7% more diverse since 1970.


3. Oxford County

Oxford County became 126.0% more diverse since 1970.


2. Cumberland County

Cumberland County became 131.5% more diverse since 1970.


1. Piscataquis County

Piscataquis County became 147.5% more diverse since 1970.

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