Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles as Multicultural Cities

To observe empirically the defining characteristics of multicultural cities, I will examine the effects of multiculturalism on the structures and institutions of three North American cities, Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles, though occasional references will be made to other cities for comparison.

Toronto is a Canadian city that embodies the national policy of mul- ticulturalism. New York and Los Angeles are American cities with long traditions of immigration and pluralism. Altogether, the three cities, with their similarities and differences, are a good "laboratory" to observe how cultural diversity affects urban structures and processes. Comparative analysis of their spatial, economic, and social institutions will help bring out the conditions necessary for infusing a multicultural ethos into cities.

The analysis will focus on both the primary city and the metropolitan areas of these cities. According to the most recent census, Toronto city had a population of 2.62 million in 2011. Its census metropolitan area (CMA) population was 5.58 million, which included Toronto city and twenty-two other municipalities as well as an aboriginals' territory. The CMA is different from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), which refers to an administrative alliance of local and regional municipalities overlapping but not limited to the CMA.

New York City had a population of 8.18 million in 2010. By itself it is large enough to be a metropolis. Its census metropolitan area population of about 19 million extends over New York City, Connecticut, northern New Jersey, and Long Island, too spread out a region, spilling across three states, to be a useful basis for comparative observations.

Los Angeles city had a population of 3.8 million in 2010. It is the centre of Los Angeles County, whose population of 9.82 million (2010) is linked in economic and spatial bonds, which makes the county the functional metropolitan region. The Los Angeles census metropolitan area extends to five counties and has a population of 18.2 million and an area of 33,400 square miles, which is too large and institutionally diffused to be an appropriate metropolitan region for this study.

The central cities and many surrounding municipalities of the three cities are now majority-minority places, where no single ethno-racial group is in majority and a combination of minorities make the majority. I will examine in detail the demographic composition of the three cities in chapter 3. Presently, I will give a thumbnail sketch of their ethno- racial diversity.

Toronto is increasingly a city of immigrants, 48.6% of its population was foreign-born, as per the 2011 National Household Survey (NHA). Equally striking is the fact that the visible minorities (the Canadian term for non-Whites) formed 49.1% of the total population. For the Toronto CMA, the percentages were almost the same: 46% immigrants and 47% visible minorities, with European-origin Whites at the cusp of being a minority, as almost 70,000 immigrants stream into the metropolitan region every year. Chinese, South Asian, Filipinos, Italians, and Jews were the leading ethnicities. This ethno-racial transformation has happened in the last thirty years.

In New York City, non-Hispanic Whites formed only 33.3% of the population in 2010, followed by Latinos at 28.6%, Blacks at 25.6%, and Asians at 12.7%. Immigration is fast diversifying the city's population. Asians and Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic groups.

Hispanics/Latinos were the largest ethno-racial group in both Los Angeles city (48.5%) and the county (47.7%), as per the national census in 2010. Anglos and other non-Hispanic Whites were, respectively, 28.7% and 27.8%, a minority. In Los Angeles city as well as the county, Blacks have been historically a small minority, but their percentage in the city has declined from 11.3 to 9.7%, and in the county from 9.8 to 8.7%, between 2000 and 2010, largely because of immigration.

The point is that these three cities are demographically and culturally turning into a new genre of urban places, where minorities are becoming majorities and ethno-racial diversity is the structural condition. Immigration is the driver of this change. These cities present an ideal field for the study of multiculturalism's urban impact.

 
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