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The stunning truth about the longest 3.9 miles in Alabama


Birmingham has a long, messy history of being a city divided. Last year, Business Insider released data showing that Birmingham is one of the top 10 most segregated cities in the country.

Professors at Florida State University analyzed 2010 census data and determined what percentage of one people group would have to move neighborhoods in order to eliminate segregation. Anything higher than 60 indicated very high segregation.

Birmingham scored 61.7.

The map below speaks for itself.

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Key: Blue = White; Green = Black; Yellow = Hispanic; Red = Asian

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A software company called Esri has combined geography, marketing data and Census data to provide a detailed look at the socioeconomic status and demographic information of specific zip codes.

This information reveals just how segregated Birmingham really is.

The 35223 zip code—Mountain Brook— is one of the richest zip codes in the state. 78 percent of residents fall into the “Top Tier” category. Esri characterizes “Top Tier” people as the ones who have achieved corporate success and often own businesses. They’re married with older kids. They belong to fitness centers and spend lots of money shopping. They travel and support charities.

The median household income for 35223 is $125,000. That’s a little more than three times the state median household income.

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Now, drive a mere 3.9 miles to the 35203 zip code—downtown Birmingham—and the data tells a different story.

71 percent of 35203 residents fall into the “Social Security Set” category. Esri describes this group as people who “live alone on low, fixed incomes in low-cost apartments.” They might have a small savings account. Most of their entertainment comes from cable television. They often pay their bills in person with cash.

The median household income for 35203 is $15,000. That’s close to three times less than the state median household income.

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Did you see what happened there?

In less than 4 miles, the median household income dropped $110,000.

People in these zip codes might live in the same city, but they exist in completely different worlds.

Follow Cort on Twitter @CortGatliff