Poverty Levels in Richmond, Virginia

Richmond Virginia is one of the top ten most wealthy cities in the state of Virginia.  However, at the same time south Richmond is currently considered to be one of the poorest and also most dangerous areas in the state of Virginia. In the current situation when equality and acceptation is the center of every news story, it is shaking to think that there is such a line of division in our local city.

In Denis Wood’s The Power of Maps, Wood introduces the idea of a map not just representing our current state, but defining it. As Wood says, “Through this map the owner has attached themselves with the school district, obligations to pay their taxes, and have similarly obligated themselves to observe a set of restricts set by their zoning maps” (Wood, 10.)  In the city of Richmond if your zip code is 23219 you have already been defined by the 12 registered sex offenders living in your neighborhood. We are tied to the maps of our lives without even agreeing to be, the mere acceptance as fact binds us with the resulting opinions. 

As depicted in the graph, the average poverty rate in the state of Virginia is just about ten percent. And although the city of Richmond can not be compared to the Potomac’s of Maryland, the northern suburbs don’t even break the eight percent mark. If one were to drive through Richmond starting in these Northern suburbs they would be absolutely astonished by the culture shock that they would endure in the short thirty minute drive to downtown and then the Southside.

The decisions made by the mappers of this project should not have been difficult. They were given the information by the 2011 census of Richmond and merely had to graph the data. However, they did have to decide on boundary lines and make simple conclusions on the color schemes. Although we can only speculate as to why we think the authors chose this particular topic to map out; we can assume it was made for economic research and reasoning for the city council or the planning board, but we could also assume that this map was made to create an outreach or an attempt at one by northern Richmond to southern Richmond. These ideas can only be speculated about, but we can read from the map that there is in fact a line of division not only in our very country but in the city that we live and play in.

Works Cited:

Wood, Denis. The Power of Maps. The Guilford Press, 1992



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3 Responses to Poverty Levels in Richmond, Virginia

  1. Christine White says:

    This is a very interesting map that you’ve picked! As a Baltimore resident, I can relate to high poverty levels while also living amongst wealthy suburbs. I like how you included insights from Wood. Like you said, when moving somewhere like Richmond with high poverty levels, the “map comes the territory that comes with it” such as school districts. This was a great map, thanks for posting!

  2. Stuart Fuller says:

    Sarah, I think this a fascinating map because not only does it provide a much better perspective of the city of Richmond but also the area in which we are all attending college. Often there can are wealthy cities that still have a poor and dangerous area but it is interesting that there is a map out depicting Richmond’s areas this way. Your references to Wood are a great support to the overall infrastructure of the map and the way you critique it. Overall, a great map that is very relevant to where we are living and going to college.

  3. Marc Gorman says:

    This map is so relevant to us as college students right now. Nationwide, poverty plays such a huge role in politics and societal views, and to see how it is distributed and at such a high level through this map offers us the opportunity to make changes. Being college students in this city, we have the chance to work towards bettering the community we’ve transplanted ourselves into, which I find really cool. I’m really glad you chose this map considering how relevant it is to our lives right now!

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