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Washington, D.C.’s ‘Super Zip Codes’

Not everyone in the capital is an elitist jerk.

by
Becky Graebner

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November 12, 2013 - 8:00 am
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The Washington Post is all about maps this week. First it was the “Eleven American Nations,” and now we have been introduced to “super zips,” the wealthiest and most educated zip codes in the United States—many of which are crowded around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

This article seems to be moderately concerned with the future of Washington, D.C.—that the super-zips surrounding the nation’s capitol have created a “buffer” zone, insulating their wealthy, highly-educated residents from socioeconomic classes lower down the totem pole.

“Zip codes are large swaths of territory, and people from many different walks of life live in them. But many Washington neighborhoods are becoming more economically homogenous as longtime homeowners move out and increasing housing prices prevent the less affluent from moving in. The eventual result, in many cases, is a Super Zip. And because the contiguous Super Zips are surrounded by areas that are almost as well-off, it’s possible to live in a Super Zip and rarely encounter others without college degrees or professional jobs.”

William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institute referred to Washington as a “megalopolis of eggheads”–

“Washington is an example of how the country is compartmentalizing itself into clusters of people with different backgrounds and world views.  It’s a magnet for people who grew up elsewhere and came here because they want to be in a place that has an atmosphere of intellectual curiosity. But it means we’re somewhat isolated. A lot of people here may study and advocate for what’s going on in the rest of the country, but they can’t feel what’s going on if it doesn’t touch them.”

I don’t pretend to defend the idea that parts of Washington, D.C. are disconnected with the outside world and I understand that the contents of this study and article could be the cherry on top of the “Washington disconnect” narrative.  However, a very broad generalization has been made about the people living and working around Washington, D.C.  I don’t think it’s fair to paint D.C. professionals with such a broad stroke–especially one that is based solely on zip code or number of graduate degrees.

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All Comments   (6)
All Comments   (6)
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Those of us who are more than 100 miles from east and west coasts, and/or south of the Mason-Dixon line only encounter those from the Capitol City when they come in to either seize what we have, attack our freedom, or impose their one-size-fits-all Capitol solutions whether we want them or not. Maybe not everyone there is auditioning for either a role in the Elites of Hunger Games or a corner office at 2 Dzerzhinsky Square; but a critical mass has been reached. If there are those who don't fit that template, and they are that smart, they have to know that they will be judged by those they associate with.

What zeprin says below is a good working definition.

Subotai Bahadur
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"... came here because they want to be in a place that has an atmosphere of intellectual curiosity."
No. They came in search of status, wealth and power.
Besides, who cares about the Peasants? They're a fungible item on the national inventory.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ding! In today's economy, if you want to strike it rich, you need to be "on the inside" of power. Sort of like 18th century France.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I see the Hunger Games
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bill--
Great link. I would love to see the logic behind who would win if Wash Metro were forced to play-- "Arlington vs McLean vs Cleveland Park etc." DUN DUN DUNNNNN.

Thanks for reading!
Becky
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'd argue people are not coming here due to "intellectual curiosity". A lot of people here are credentialed, not educated.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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