Jill Hubley

From the French-creole communities in Brooklyn to the Laotian enclave in the Bronx.

If you want to hear someone speaking Persian in New York, try hanging around southeast Manhattan’s Peter Cooper Village. If Urdu’s more your thing, head to the neighborhoods around Forest Park in Queens, and for Tagalog and Serbo-Croatian visit Washington Heights and Astoria, respectively.

That’s the lay of the linguistic land according to Jill Hubley, a Brooklyn web developer who’s mapped New York’s tree species and toxic spills. Hubley’s latest project is a breakdown of the city’s languages, ranging from the tongues of African nations to Korean to Yiddish. Although you can include English (light blue) and Spanish (dark blue) in the count, it makes things looks a little boring:

Jill Hubley

So the default option excludes these common languages, revealing a much more vibrant mix of parlance:

Jill Hubley

Hubley built the map using data from the 2014 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census, which asks people if they speak languages other than English at home. It collects this information partly to create programs for non-English speakers and ensure they’re able to understand laws, voting procedures, and other things.

Even for native New Yorkers, some things might stand out, from the solitary Laotian-speaking community at the top of the Bronx to the Japanese enclave in eastern Staten Island to the appearance of Greek in all five boroughs. (If anyone can explain why Randall's Island is listed as Yiddish and Central Park as Vietnamese, you get a cookie.) There’s also the sheer preponderance of French-creole speakers, who dominate in large sections of Queens and Brooklyn—there are nearly 106,000 of these folks in the city, according to WNYC.

Jill Hubley

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A man wearing a suit and tie holds an American flag at a naturalization ceremony.
    Life

    The New Geography of American Immigration

    The foreign-born population has declined in U.S. states that voted Democratic in 2016, and increased in states and metros that voted for Trump.

  2. Uber Eats worker
    Life

    The Millennial Urban Lifestyle Is About to Get More Expensive

    As WeWork crashes and Uber bleeds cash, the consumer-tech gold rush may be coming to an end.

  3. a photo of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in 2016.
    Transportation

    What Uber Did

    In his new book on the “Battle for Uber,” Mike Isaac chronicles the ruthless rise of the ride-hailing company and its founding CEO, Travis Kalanick.

  4. Transportation

    A Micromobility Experiment in Pittsburgh Aims to Get People Out of Their Cars

    The Pittsburgh Micromobility Collective will create all-in-one mobility hubs near transit stops, to compete with Uber and Lyft and help commuters go car-free.

  5. Sanders walking in front of a large apartment building with men in suits
    Perspective

    This Is How to Make Democratic Candidates’ Housing Plans a Reality

    After years of investment in creating affordable housing, the U.S. still doesn’t have adequate supply. Presidential candidates’ plans must address reasons why.

×