¡Vamos al Norte!
So suggests new research about the District’s Hispanic residents, who historically have made the Northwest neighborhoods of Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, and Mount Pleasant their home. The research, a project by Hola Cultura, a D.C.-based nonprofit, and students at the University of Maryland, shows that since 1970, Hispanic Washingtonians have gradually moved north- and eastward from those three neighborhoods. Although many Hispanic cultural spaces such as restaurants, bodegas, and Spanish-language churches still exist in those locales, D.C.’s Hispanic population now mostly resides in 16th Street Heights, Park View, and Petworth.
It’s also growing—by nearly 30 percent between 2007 and 2012, City Paper previously reported.
“We can make a predication that Hispanics are moving towards Ward 1 and Northeast D.C.,” says Byron Marroquin, the lead researcher on the project and an intern with Hola Cultura. “We have also found that [Hispanics] tend to be distributed in different ways depending on their nationality or country of origin.”
Salvadorians, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Guatemalans, and Dominicans are the top five Hispanic subgroups living in D.C., the researchers report. Marroquin says Puerto Ricans in particular are widely distributed throughout D.C., while Guatemalans and Dominicans are more clustered.
To illustrate these trends, the researchers created maps using U.S. Census data from 1970 to 2010, which is housed by the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota:
Though Hispanics’ northward movement is clear, Marroquin and his co-researchers, Hola Cultura interns Nicholas John and Elvis Herrera, say they haven’t come up with a definitive explanation for the movement. One reason, they say, could be that rising rents are pushing low-income Hispanics out of certain neighborhoods. Other maps they created show that the median gross rent for Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, and Mount Pleasant have jumped significantly since the beginning of the century: In 2000, in those neighborhoods, it ranged from $271 to $1,200, while in 2010, it swelled to $750 to $1670.
Many public-housing subsidy contracts are set to expire within the next five years, Marroquin adds, and without affordable housing and sustainable incomes, many Hispanics are being squeezed.
1970 was the first year the term “persons of Spanish origin” appeared on the U.S. Census. The researchers will present their work to the public Friday night from 7 to 9 p.m. at the GALA Hispanic Theatre in Columbia Heights. Dr. Ronald Luna from UMD’s Department of Geographical Sciences helped coordinate the research and was responsible for acquiring partial funding for the mapping project.
This post has been corrected to clarify Hola Cultura’s role in the study.
Maps courtesy of Byron Marroquin, Nicholas John, and Elvis Herrera