EDIT: Actually, there is something in particular I’d like to get out of this. It’s similar to the point I made with the Brooklyn map: namely, that the invisibility of the poor and nonwhite when they aren’t interacting with more privileged people is just astounding. Look at Manhattan; look at the Bronx. Look, for that matter, at Brooklyn again. Whose stories do we hear?

That would be a stupid rhetorical question – duh, Daniel, we hear rich people’s stories – if it weren’t for the fact that even I, a person who has made this exact point multiple times before, was shocked at the extent to which very low-income neighborhoods persist in New York. Why was I so surprised? Because all people talk about is how New York has become a gated city of the ultra-rich. Because of the social bias that I just suggested was blindingly obvious. And which nevertheless, in this case, I fell for.

And if I fell for it in this case, then surely I’m still falling for it in dozens of others. Andrew Sullivan’s blog, for as long as I’ve read it, has carried on its masthead an Orwell quote: “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” That’s true in a very general way, of course, but it’s also worth remembering that it’s true in some pretty specific ways: for whatever reason, the struggle is particularly difficult when it’s poor or nonwhite people in front of your nose. That’s a lesson for anyone who cares about cities – or, you know, humans, since an interest in cities is at bottom an interest in humans and their habitats – whether you’re part of the media, or an urban planner, or a neighborhood activist, or just one of those humans in their habitat.


I’ve been holding onto this for a while, not quite sure what to do with it, but now I’m releasing it into the wild. It comes from the same data set and researchers (Sean Reardon and Kendra Bischoff) as the Chicago map, with the same disclaimer that any mistakes in the translation of spreadsheet to map are entirely of my own doing.

Anyway, I know much less about New York’s social geography than I do Chicago’s, so I won’t say too much, but several things obviously stick out here. One is that though Manhattan has almost entirely eliminated middle-class or economically balanced neighborhoods, the rest of the city has a good deal more of them than Chicago. To some extent, I suspect this has something to do with New York’s much more ambitious (and, sometimes, progressive) housing policy: fewer than half of tenants there live in pure market-rate housing. Although New York, like most of the rest of the country, would do well to allow more housing where there’s capacity, demand is high enough that lots of subsidies are likely called for.

The other thing is just how much of New York, currently a global symbol of gated-city affluence, is actually poor. Look, for example, at the Bronx: it’s a sea of red. A decent amount of Brooklyn, too. Another reminder of how the obsession with gentrification obscures the larger issue of income segregation.

Also: man, Harlem is gentrifying. That sort of dark-red-to-green is something you didn’t see too much in the Chicago map.

Finally, this map really ought to have a scale capable of showing the extremes of wealth in parts of Manhattan that just don’t exist in Chicago. Twice the metro median family income really doesn’t cut it.

* These are not polished maps: I just don’t have time to polish them, but I wanted to get them out, and the broad trends are pretty apparent. You’ll see that some tracts in Staten Island are missing until 1990-2000; I figure people don’t care that much about Staten Island. (Sorry, Staten Island.) Also there are some weird things that happen with tracts that include parks, where small populations are included where they weren’t before. Apologies.



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