I’m a sucker for a good map,
sit me down with a Rand McNally atlas and I am a happy
camper for hours. That is probably why a recent series by Richard Florida in
The Atlantic Cities caught my eye. The 10-part series is mapping major US
cities to study where certain classes of workers are concentrated. The
organization of occupation types is one way to understand the organization of our
As you can see in a blog post written by Christa Franzi, there
are varying definitions for the creative class. In this analysis creative class,
service class, and working class definitions are as follows:
Creative Class: people who
work in science and technology, business and management, arts, culture media
and entertainment, and law and healthcare professions.
low-wage, low-skill work in routine jobs such as food service and preparation,
retail sales, and clerical and administrative positions.
factory jobs as well as transportation,
maintenance, transportation, and construction
This post concentrates on the mapping of the Boston metro
area and the Houston metro area. These two cities are geographically different
and in very different stages in their development.
The map below shows the City of Boston with the purple
indicating the concentration of the creative class occupations and the red the
concentration of service class occupations.
One of the most striking characteristics is the lack of working class
occupation concentrations (would be shown in blue). The lack of working class occupations is
particularly interesting due to the historical strength of factory and
production based employment in the textile and shoe industry in Boston. Richard
Florida points out that:
is not a single Census tract in the city where the working class makes up as
much as half of the residents.1
The growth in universities, health care, and other office
based industries priced out much of the working class occupations, leaving the
City to be primarily creative and service based.
A closer look at the organization of occupations within
the City of Boston shows that the northern part of the City is concentrated in
the creative class whereas the service class is located in the southern part of
the City. The creative class is
concentrated in the City’s central business district where there are
concentrations of banks, offices, insurance companies, etc. There is also a strong concentration in
Cambridge, which is where Harvard and MIT are located.
The City of Boston proper is much smaller than the larger
metro within which it is situated, with people traveling far distances using
the commuter rail and other transportation options into the City. The high cost
of living and lack of affordable housing has pushed out much of the lower
Compared to the City of Boston, the City of Houston is a
lot more integrated with a combination of creative, service, and working class occupations
all within the City limits. The City of Houston is the fifth largest metro in the
nation and is home to more than six million people. The City has seen
significant population growth in the last decade as a result of people
migrating from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. The footprint of the City is also large due to
annexation between 1940 and 1980, a land management tool that is not used in
One of the most interesting things about Houston is the
concentration of working class occupations in the City, which is different than
many other post-industrial cities.
Richard Florida notes that:
“Houston has by far the largest number of
concentrated urban working class enclaves of any city covered in this series.
This reflects the region's history as a center for the petroleum, petrochemical
and related industries, as well as blue-collar activity around Port of Houston,
one of the nation's busiest.2
Similar to the Boston map, the downtown area is home to
creative class occupations as there is a concentration of offices and
headquarters. Also similar to the Boston map is the concentration of service
class occupations near the airports.
To see more of the analysis of the occupation maps,
please visit: The Atlantic Cities at www.theatlanticcities.com.
- 1 http://www.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods/2013/03/class-divided-cities-boston-edition/5017/
- 2 http://www.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods/2013/03/class-divided-cities-houston-edition/4850/