Monday, December 8, 2014

The Rise and Fall of Manhattan’s Density (updated)

Alexander McQuilkin has written a very nice piece on the rise and fall of Manhattan’s density over the past 200 years. It's certainly worth a read.
"Between 1800 and 1910, density in urban Manhattan tripled from 200 to 600 people per hectare. Neighborhoods like Chinatown, the Lower East Side, and the East Village were significantly denser than the average, approaching 1,600 people per hectare." [This is about 4 times the population density of these neighborhoods as observed today !]
This is an interesting and not so new  map showing the 'de-densification of Manhattan', by Shlomo Angel and Patrick Lamson-Hall.

[image credit: Shlomo Angel and Patrick Lamson-Hall]

Updated: If you liked this post, you might like this interactive tool called Urban Layers that tracks Manhattan's rise, block by block, since 1765.

[image credit: @morphocode]


Artieb said...

I don't think the results of the analysis looked at the sociological and public health implications of such living conditions at that point in time. During this period there was an increase and rise in slums and tenement living in the late 19th and early 20th century. This was a serious public health hazard.

I would be much interested in seeing the densities of the 1950's compared to now.

Rafael H M Pereira said...

Good point Artieb, I'm sure there is a whole discussion on how such urban densities and building technology and materials affect collective health. Regarding the densities in the 1950s, this chart from McQuilkin's piece shows a gradual convergence since the then.