MARTA’s Yellow Line

Recently a stink has been made about the name given to the MARTA Rail Line formally known as Doraville. The dispute came about from business owners and community members along the northeast line of Asian ethnicity. They were a bit peeved about MARTA labeling the line “The Yellow Line.” The yellow distinction was considered racist and MARTA agreed to change the name of the line to gold. This facilitated the use of existing maps while quashing the beef.

This whole dispute made me think, is that really the yellow line? I think that section of town is more Asian than most but is it majority Asian. I created a mp of the MARTA rail system that reflects the composition of the communities surrounding each stop. I looked at proportion of white, black, Latino, and Asian populations from the 2000 census, using all the census tracts within a mile of each stop. This doesn’t account for the local business ownership but should give us an idea of which line is yellow or black or white or what have you. It looks like the stops along the gold line have more Asian residents around them than other stops but the majority of people around those stops are of another race (specifically Latino around Doraville and Chamblee). I also looked at populations for only the census tract in which the station fell. The results were similar with fewer Asian proportions at almost every station. At the Lindbergh Station the 1 tract method showed 63% of the population as Latino, while including the surrounding tracts introduced an overwhelming number of white residents.

Secondly, how could the community find a way to embrace this? I have had several conversations with Asian friends who grew up in western countries about who was an egg and who was a banana. Maybe you’ve talked about twinkies. Tourists in New York, San Francisco, and other cities around the world seek out their Chinatowns for a meal and some souvenirs. DC has a metro stop called Chinatown. At the same time the best examples of those places support a large Asian population that can go about daily shopping activities or find a Majong game. Maybe we should call it La Linea to nod to the Latino populations up there. Still I think formalizing it on documents and websites makes it sting and stirs up the opposition. When it’s a colloquial thing like Curry Hill in NYC, does the same opposition present itself? And if it does, at whom is it directed?

I’m interested to hear more of your thoughts on this and on the map. Thanks.

3 thoughts on “MARTA’s Yellow Line

  1. Great analysis Vargo.

    The hullabaloo seems to place an inordinate amount of identity with the terminal point of the line, ignoring virtually every other stop. Does this mean that if MARTA committed to extending the former northeast line to Norcross, that they could name it “Yellow”?

    Ultimately this was much ado about nothing. If I were in Beverly Scott's chair I would have capitulated as well, because she and MARTA have much bigger fish to fry. Crispy Whole Fish


  2. That is a cool graphic. I wonder how much will change for 2010 census. I know the large Latino population has partially been pushed out of the Lindbergh area.
    I don't totally understand what the big deal was. But agree that MARTA has much bigger problems to deal with and so changing it to Gold is the easy out.
    I believe that the Chinatown stop on the DC Metro is in fact on the 'yellow' line.


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