Last week, we showed you a big trove of the latest data on New York City’s neighborhood changes from 2000 to 2015, courtesy of the New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. We asked Chris Vaillancourt over at the mapping company ESRI to help us make more sense of how Gotham’s 55 sub-boroughs have gentrified and shifted in their populations over the last decade and a half.
There are many ways to measure gentrification, but for simplicity’s sake we use NYU’s Furman Center’s criteria for gentrifying neighborhoods: where neighborhoods that had households earning lower incomes later experienced rent growth at a higher rate than the median neighborhood.
To frame that economic context, take a look at the map above to see the sub-borough changes in incomes.* The map can toggle between showing the increase in the number of people that earned below $25,000 a year or people that earned more than $75,000 in a year, indicated by the up and down arrows and size. (A full screen version is available here).
Click on a neighborhood to see the full distribution of the people earning at four different income tiers. The top five largest percent increases of the wealthiest tier were identified as gentrifying neighborhoods—Greenpoint & Williamsburg, Bushwick, Central Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Chinatown & Lower East Side.
New York City’s changing racial makeup
Here’s another part of that transformation story from the Comptroller’s report—an overview of population change by race at the sub-borough level. Neighborhood changes are represented by color and graded by intensity of change—purple represents neighborhoods where Asian residents were the largest growing group, green indicates where African Americans were the predominant population growth, blue shows where white residents increased their presence most, and yellow highlights where Hispanic populations grew the most. The pop-up on each neighborhood also reveals the full neighborhood descriptive statistics and a pie chart of the racial composition of each neighborhood which you can toggle between 2000 and 2015 using the arrow on the side of the chart. (You can view a full screen version here.)
Neighborhood change of Asian residents
The map above indicates the 2000 to 2015 changes in sub-borough populations of Asian residents from green (decreasing) to blue (increasing). Overall, as you see, it’s a story of growth here: Only four sub-boroughs saw a percent decrease in the population of Asian residents. Among them was Manhattan’s Chinatown, the neighborhood with the second-largest Asian population in the city in 2000, and the only gentrifying neighborhood now tinted green. The largest percent increases of Asian residents came in gentrifying neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant and Greenpoint & Williamsburg and in upscale neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights or Chelsea.
Neighborhood change of Hispanic residents
Here’s the 2000 to 2015 changes in sub-borough populations of Hispanic residents, from orange (decreasing) to blue (increasing). Thirteen neighborhoods lost Hispanic representation, and seven of those neighborhoods were considered to be gentrifying. About 10,000 fewer Hispanic people lived in Washington Heights in 2015, home of the largest Hispanic neighborhood population in the city. Similar double-digit percentage declines occurred in other gentrifying neighborhoods like Greenpoint & Williamsburg and Bushwick. But other gentrifying neighborhoods saw an increase in Hispanic residents: Central Harlem had a 85 percent increase, Crown Heights North & Prospects had an 83 percent increase.
Neighborhood change of white residents
Here’s where New York City’s getting whiter (in green on the map). The red areas are the 25 sub-boroughs with declining white populations—none of which were in the gentrifying neighborhoods identified by the Furman Center. The population of white residents increased in every gentrifying neighborhood from 2000 to 2015. Eight gentrifying neighborhoods logged the biggest increases, topped by Bedford-Stuyvesant, at 1,235 percent—a raw increase of 38,116 white residents from 2000 to 2015.
Neighborhood change of African-American residents
In this map, red indicates a loss of African-American residents, blue an increase. One of the top-line stats out of the NYC Comptroller report was the drastic decline in black-owned businesses across the city, and this map helps explain why: The African-American population declined in about 25 neighborhoods from 2000 to 2015, and some of the largest raw number declines occurred in gentrifying neighborhoods, particularly Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. With the exceptions of Hunts Point and Brownsville, all
neighborhoods labeled as gentrifying had fewer African-American residents in 2015. However, aside from the largest increase of Bensonhurst & Bath Beach, the top 10 largest increases of African American residents occurred in what the Furman Center identified as wealthier neighborhoods. There was substantial African American population growth in Canarsie & Flatlands (from 96,129 to 135,840), for example.
So what does this portrait of a New York in flux add up to? That’s a story that’s harder to map; the on-the-ground impact of neighborhood demographic change, displacement, and gentrification isn’t captured in this data. Questions about causation, correlation, and statistical significance complicate arguments about gentrification, leading some to discount gentrification as a mere myth. But the numbers presented by the Comptroller’s Office certainly show how dramatically the nation’s largest city has evolved over a decade and a half.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story originally misidentified the Comptroller’s individual income data as household income.