“New York is different. It feels urban in a way other US cities don’t. New York is in a class of its own, with the average resident living in a census tract with more than 31,000 people per square mile….That’s two-and-a-half times the density in San Francisco or LA, four times the density of Chicago.” writes Paul Krugman for The New York Times.
Population density is something that’s been studied in America for over 200 years. In fact, here’s a graph that shows these measurements from 1790 to 2019. But this average measurement of people per square mile doesn’t really paint a true picture of our urban growth.
Our cities come in all shapes and sizes, some sprawling, and others with more populated centres. ‘Population-weighted density,’ a measure that the US Census Bureau used in this report, is a better way to see just how concentrated the population is in our metro areas. And it shows that New York City has by far the densest metropolitan area in the US.
In New York, this density brings with it a lifestyle of its own. If you live in this city, everything you need is just a short walk away. Walkability is not only better for the planet but it makes New York a healthier place to live than other car-centric cities. All that walking is good exercise. And if New Yorkers need to go further afield, they still don’t get in the car but use mass transit more frequently than other city dwellers do.
Density plays an important and positive role in economic growth and innovation. It might even be a factor in New York’s falling crime rate. Right now, with the spread of coronavirus, New York’s density might be a disadvantage. But soon the city will again become the heart of urbanism. Says Paul Krugman: “We don’t all have to live like New Yorkers, but it’s good for America — which thrives on diversity — that some of us do.”
Read the original story here.
Image of New York courtesy of John D. Norton