What’s the difference between Friendship Heights and Capitol Heights? The number of people with college degrees.

Degree density in and around DC. Each blue dot represents 1,000 people 25 and over with a college degree; each pink dot, 1,000 people 25+ without. Maps by Rob Pitingolo.

Rob Pitingolo has done a lot of research on which places have more or fewer people with college degrees. DC has the fourth most college degrees per square mile of any city in the nation, but that doesn’t apply everywhere in the region or everywhere in DC.

Rob created these maps that show the locations of people with and without college degrees aged 25 and over.

There seems to be a fair amount of mixing in Virginia, but in DC and Maryland, the divide is starker. East of the Anacostia, blue dots are very few; west of Rock Creek and in the central city, they overwhelm the pink dots.

A lot of news stories talk about the DC region in terms of the division between black and white. The city’s history of racial segregation has left a legacy of educational and socioeconomic inequality. As a result, many commentators use race as a simplistic shorthand for conflicts that are really about college educated versus not, or wealthy versus poor, or young versus old.

Race is immutable, but other characteristics are not. If our divisions are really about black versus white, they’re not going to change unless some people move out of the city, and that’s not what we want to happen. But education levels can change, and it’s good for everyone if we can help all people in our region access better education.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.