One of our long time Real Change vendors has been doing very well lately selling the paper in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood. "The people are beautiful," she said. I asked what she meant. "All the men have pink skin and white hair and the most beautiful shoes you can imagine." Such exfoliated well-shod splendor.
This made me wonder what's really going on in Magnolia. Due to the magic of city-data.com, I can Google a Magnolia zip code and find out. The median age, at 40.5, is about five years over the mean for Washington. The average home value is $521K, and the average adjusted gross income is $90,931, with 5.1% living below poverty. If you believe this, there a fewer poor people in Magnolia than anywhere else in the city. Charitable giving is 2.9%, which puts the Magnolians in competition with those cheap-asses in West Seattle and the skin-flint Swedes in Ballard for least giving neighborhood. There are 53 white people for every Black, but one in 16 is Asian. Lesbians and gays make up 1.4% of the population.
This being a lot like eating potato chips, I kept going. What happens, I thought, when one crosses the ship canal into Ballard? Having several choices, I chose 98117 as representative. Median age is 38.4 and adjusted gross income is $61,206. 5.7% live below the poverty level. Charitable giving is just 2.7%. Here, there are 67 whites for every Black. This is remarkable. Statistically speaking, one could go to a Starbucks every day for 5.8 days without ever seeing a Black person. Asians are again in the number two position at a 1:18 ratio. Almost 2% are gay or lesbian, as near as anyone can tell.
So what happens if I go downtown? I tried 98101, which is the neighborhood just south of Real Change in Belltown. This would be, I suppose, the marketing term known as the West Edge, over by Pike Place Market. The median age goes up to 42, and income climbs to $115,946, with 24% below poverty. Wow. 4.5% goes to charity. Hmmm. Almost one in seven are Black, and one in nine are Asian. Just 1.2% homos. A little repressed maybe, but compared to Ballard and Magnolia, it's the United Nations.
How does my neighborhood in Shoreline compare? A 1:17 Black/white ratio but 1:5 Asian to white. We're about 38, and earn $42,485, with 3.4% going to charity. Almost 11% live below the poverty level, and the queers apparently prefer neighborhoods with better aesthetics because we're down to 1.1%
A bit south and over on the other side of Aurora, where lower-end condos are sprouting up like dandelions in the springtime, there's a few more Blacks and about the same number of Asians. They're a year younger, 13% richer, 3.2% goes to charity, and they are no more queer than their brethren in Shoreline.
Moving southward across Lake Union, we arrive at Capitol Hill, the epicenter of which is The Stranger in the 98122 zip. Here, incredibly, the Black to white ratio is 1:2. These are 1999 figures, and I'm sure this is no longer the case. The median age is just 32, but incomes soar above Shoreline levels to $53,718, or just below the Washington State average, with 3.9% going to charity. Nearly 20% are living below poverty. Official figures are that 3.9% are gay or lesbian, which is, of course, ridiculously low.
Further south still, we have the Central Area/International District, and to avoid the skewing effect of water front property, I'll go with 98108. Here you have three Blacks to every two whites and the Asians outnumber everyone. Incomes drop to $37,706, the lowest in the city, with almost 15% below poverty, but charitable giving is 4%. 1.5% report as unmarried same sex households.
Over in Rainier Valley at 98118, Blacks, whites, and Asians are in a virtual dead heat, with Asians being slightly ahead. 38% rent. Median income is $43,653, which is actually better than in my neighborhood. 3.5% goes to charity. The average is, of course, radically skewed by all those beautiful waterfront homes with a view of the Cascades where the white people live and the black people tend the grounds. If you don't believe me, drive through there sometime and look for yourself. You'd think you were in 1954 Georgia. 2% gay and lesbian. 14% live below poverty.
Coming around to West Seattle, which is rumored to be a part of this city, I've gone for the center at 98126. Here, there are ten whites to each Black, and a 1:5 Asian ratio. Incomes are damn near average at $53,623, with 13.5% below poverty and 2% queer. Charitable giving is 2.6%, the lowest in the city.
All of this confirms that Magnolia is indeed rich, white, and somewhat cheap. Maybe if they saw more of what the rich people downtown see they'd give more of their money away.