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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 10:37 AM
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Population density patterns in cities (NYC and Chicago as a starter)

I have been fascinated recently by comparing density patterns of Chicago with those of New York City. Chicago has the skyscraper height and probably similar daytime density with Manhattan in the Loop but overall Chicago is less than half as dense as New York City.

One thing I have noticed is that NYC (all boroughs not just Manhattan) is much better at mixing housing densities in neighborhoods outside of central areas such as having midrise and highrise apartment buildings mixed in with flats and single family housing, this is a good part of the reason that Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens are as dense as they are. In Chicago neighborhoods like these with 20K+ people per square mile are exclusively along the lakefront. Once you get more than a few miles from the lakefront in Chicago it is almost all low rise single family dwellings and flats with 10-15K per square mile density (aka the bungalow belt) with virtually no large apartment buildings.

I noticed this when looking at google street view in places like Queens where many residential streets don't look much different than the bungalow belt neighborhood of Chicago I live in with many single family homes or two flats and yet the average Queens neighborhood is twice as dense as mine. This is because in Queens the commercial streets often had large five-seven story apartment buildings whereas commercial streets in my neighborhood were filled with mostly two story buildings, shops with one floor of apartments above and also some three story brick three flats but no large residential buildings. For the record I live near the edge of the city by Midway Airport but I purposely looked at neighborhoods in Queens near LaGuardia and JFK airports to compare housing roughly the same distance from the respective CDBs.

I think the Chicago patterns reinforce NIMBYism because there is huge resistance to build any large residential buildings in inland neighborhoods here, in NYC such mixtures of buildings have been the norm for generations and while NIMBYism no doubt exists there it is harder for them to make an argument about larger residential buildings changing the context of a neighborhood.

Also another issue Chicago has is that much more land here is used for industrial use and brownfield sites of former industry (Lake Calumet/South Works) especially on the south side and this lowers the population density of the city as whole. NYC by comparison seems to have much less industrial land or at least lacking the large swaths of continuous industrial areas like Chicago. The Near West Side of Chicago also has huge former warehouse areas that are largely underutilized albeit increasingly gentrifying but the population density is still less than 10K in many of those areas only a couple miles from the Loop. Nowhere in Manhattan or within a couple miles of it has that low of a population density. In fact western Staten Island is the only area of NYC that has large swaths of land that are not either residential/commercial or park. For the most part New York City is just relentless density and we see things like Brooklyn having 35K density over 70 square miles. In Chicago it is hard to find continuous areas of more than a few square miles surpassing 30K per square mile, even the Near North Side with it's huge amount of residential highrises (Trump/Hancock/Marina City, etc.) only is at about 30K, less than half the average density of Manhattan.

Then there is also the fact that Chicago's population is 25% less than what it was in 1950 and New York City is bigger now than it has ever been. One way in which high density can occur is through having a high number of people per household, I wonder if NYC's is higher than Chicago's. It is pretty amazing for an old urban city like NYC to actually have a population higher than it did in 1950, something unique out of all the old urban centers of either the northeast or midwest and this is reflected in the density. Many cities were quite dense in 1950, actually Chicago was about 70% as dense as NYC in 1950, today Chicago is about 44% as dense as NYC.

I suppose down the road I or somebody should post pictures and google earth street views so we can have a visual reference for this conversation.
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 1:31 PM
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How cool would it be to go back to 1950, when most older cities were at their peak density! And I agree-- New York is such an anomaly. Its continued growth has to be attributed to the fact that immigrants and their often large families are just cramming in to every nook and cranny in the city, just as they always have. Add to that the allure of New York in an increasingly mobile world and you have a recipe for demand, demand, demand to live in the ultimate megacity, where opportunities abound for just about any type of person from any kind of background.
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 3:22 PM
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Yeah there might be more people here (NYC) than in 1950 but one thing is worst- the ROADS! The infrastructure here is really, really bad and I see no hope in sight!
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 6:17 PM
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Well it's not really surprising that New York City's numbers are denser than Chicago's. New York has far far more highrises apartments, midrise apartments and dense rowhouses which are much denser forms of housing than detached houses which is the main housing type in Chicago.

Toronto is probably more like Chicago in terms of density in the city proper, although there are some differences. Like Chicago, Toronto had and to a lesser degree, still has lots of industrial areas. Most of the waterfront was taken up by a huge railyard that is now being redeveloped into new neighbourhoods like City Place and South Core: http://urbantoronto.ca/news/2010/03/...lost-toronto-0
The areas East and West of the Financial District were also largely warehouses and manufacturing including areas like the Entertainment District, Fashion District, Liberty Village, Distrillery District, St Lawrence and King East. These areas are mostly being turned into lofts and condos right now, with a few non-residential uses too. There is also a huge area on the waterfront that was landfilled in the early 1900s and mostly consists of newer industrial buildings (many abandonned), vacant land and parking lots. There are also massive industrial areas around railway yards and airports further from downtown. The one around Pearson Airport which is mostly outside city limits is over 50 square miles of non-residential lands (there's also some office parks, hotels and big boxes).

Downtown Toronto has quite a lot of apartment buildings, both older rental buildings and newer condos, maybe more than in Chicago. The downtown area had about 120,000 residents in 2001, around 180,000 in 2011 and will probably have around 250,000 in 2016. Outside of downtown, the inner city is mostly attached, semi-detached and detached houses, although the basements and second floors are often rented out to separate households, which is more or less like Chicago. Most commercial streets that are pre-WWII are 2-3 storey with apartments above the ground floor.

Beyond that is a bungalow belt of sorts, although it's not quite like Chicago's. Much of Toronto's "bungalow belt" has 2-4 unit apartments and 2 storey houses (many of which are new) mixed in. The city proper also includes a ton of post-WWII areas. The earlier post-war areas are mostly bungalows on large lots while the newer areas from the 70s-90s are two storey and generally on smaller lots. There is also a substantial amount of highrises throughout the inner city and suburbs that help raise density somewhat, they were built in multiple waves with much of them built in the 60s and 70s as rentals, followed by a small wave of condos in the 80s and bigger wave of condos in the last 15 years. However, those built in the 60s-80s were surrounding by greenspace, parking lots and sometimes shopping malls, so the density is not as high as it could be.

Outside the city proper, the single family homes built in the 60s are mostly bungalows on large lots, followed by 2 storeys on relatively large lots in the 70s and 80s and 2 storeys on small lots in the 90s/00s. The 60s-80s areas have densities of around 5-10k ppsm while the newer areas are more around 10-15k ppsm. In NW Brampton, where a lot of the greenfield growth is occuring, you also have a lot of South Asians with extended families lead the average household sizes of 4-4.5.

As for the population of the old city (city limits pre-1998 amalgamation of several suburbs), it's gone up and down since WWII but for the last 30 years it's been increasing and is now at its highest.


I also gathered quite a lot of data on the density distribution of Canadian cities.
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 6:28 PM
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^ single family detached homes in Chicago only account for rougly 25% of the housing in the city. Its not the most common. The bungalow belt is large because single family homes obviously take up more space. Chicago's neighborhoods between the bungalow belt and the lakefront highrises are a mix of 2-flats, 3-flats, and 3-4 story Apartment buildings and its where the majority of the people live.


Here's the stats from the census

Total Units: 1,152,871


1-unit, detached

285,978

24.81%


1-unit, attached

39,263

3.41%


2 units

202,962

17.6%


3 or 4 units

166,021

14.4%


5 to 9 units

121,964

10.58%


10 to 19 units

67,262

5.83%


20 or more units

267,474

23.2%


Mobile home

1,630

0.14%


Boat, RV, van, etc.

317

0.03%


Would be interested in seeing units in structure for more cities.
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Last edited by Segun; Mar 3, 2012 at 6:40 PM.
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 6:40 PM
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Montreal on the other hand is quite different from Toronto. The downtown is a bit similar, although with a bit fewer highrise apartments. However, the inner city is full of lowrise (2-4s), attached apartments in the 30-50k ppsm range as opposed to Toronto's inner city at 15-35k pppsm and these cover more of the city core. Basically looks like this:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Montre...340.18,,0,-1.6

Montreal also has fewer highrise apartments and less dense suburbs.

Vancouver has a downtown similar to Toronto's, although the highrises might be a bit more concentrated together, and also has the highrises in the inner city and suburbs, like Toronto (although mostly newer). The main difference is that the inner city is mostly detached single family homes and the lot sizes are a bit bigger in the suburbs.
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 6:52 PM
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Chicago is more similar to Montreal in that regard

http://maps.google.com/?ll=41.939087...94.28,,0,-5.02
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 7:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Segun View Post
^ single family detached homes in Chicago only account for rougly 25% of the housing in the city. Its not the most common. The bungalow belt is large because single family homes obviously take up more space. Chicago's neighborhoods between the bungalow belt and the lakefront highrises are a mix of 2-flats, 3-flats, and 3-4 story Apartment buildings and its where the majority of the people live.
Still, those multi-family areas that most Chicagoan live in are much less dense than the multi-family areas in NYC.

Here's breakdown for Toronto (2006), which includes a lot of of post-war areas.

Total: 979,440

Single Family detached: 267,397 (27.3%)
Single Family attached: 125,368 (12.8%)
Duplexes: 43,095 (4.4%)
Apartments under 5 stories: 162,587 (16.6%)
Apartments 5 stories or more: 397,043 (38.7%)

So more large apartments and single family, but less small apartments.
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 7:08 PM
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^ of course its much less dense than NYC, but single family homes in Chicago are far from being the "main housing type" as you said.
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 7:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Segun View Post
Chicago is more similar to Montreal in that regard

http://maps.google.com/?ll=41.939087...94.28,,0,-5.02
That neighbourhood is indeed similar, although I don't think Chicago has as many neighbourhoods like that as Montreal.

Montreal current city / old city

Total: 743,235 / 500,115
Single Family detached: 55,743 (7.5%) / 24,006 (4.8%)
Single Family attached: 46,824 (6.3%) / 28,507 (5.7%)
Duplexes: 109,256 (14.7%) / 64,515 (12.9%)
Apartments under 5 stories: 435,436 (58.6%) / 319,073 (63.8%)
Apartments 5 stories or more: 91,418 (12.3%) / 61,514 (12.3%)

So Montreal has more small apartments than Chicago or Toronto and less single family and large apartments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Segun View Post
^ of course its much less dense than NYC, but single family homes in Chicago are far from being the "main housing type" as you said.
Fair enough, I guess I confused some of the 2-3 storey apartments for single family homes when looking at Chicago.
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 7:33 PM
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^ Only percentage wise but not in sheer number, there's probably a good 25% of the city that looks like in between the North Lakefront

http://wibiti.com/images/hpmain/019/275019.jpg

and South Lakefront


http://tigger.uic.edu/depts/ahaa/ima...ials3/029.JPEG


or even further west in areas that have that same scale with different buildings....

http://tigger.uic.edu/depts/ahaa/ima...rials4/95.JPEG

Also the American and Canadian census has two different classifications so 20+ units also include thousands of units in large Apartment buildings along with highrises. Buildings such as these: http://www.streetsandsoul.com/roundup/roundup459.jpg can have between 24 to 100+ units.

I wouldn't be surprised if only 15% of Chicagoans actually live in highrises.

Development in Chicago is very ordered. Besides a few exceptions, the density slowly tapers off west from the Lakefront from Highrises to large Apartment buildings to 3-4 flats to 2-flats, finally to the Bungalow Belt.
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 8:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Segun View Post
^ Only percentage wise but not in sheer number, there's probably a good 25% of the city that looks like in between the North Lakefront

http://wibiti.com/images/hpmain/019/275019.jpg

and South Lakefront


http://tigger.uic.edu/depts/ahaa/ima...ials3/029.JPEG


or even further west in areas that have that same scale with different buildings....

http://tigger.uic.edu/depts/ahaa/ima...rials4/95.JPEG

Also the American and Canadian census has two different classifications so 20+ units also include thousands of units in large Apartment buildings along with highrises. Buildings such as these: http://www.streetsandsoul.com/roundup/roundup459.jpg can have between 24 to 100+ units.

I wouldn't be surprised if only 15% of Chicagoans actually live in highrises.

Development in Chicago is very ordered. Besides a few exceptions, the density slowly tapers off west from the Lakefront from Highrises to large Apartment buildings to 3-4 flats to 2-flats, finally to the Bungalow Belt.
Even in sheer numbers Montreal might have more depending on the exact definition. After all, there are 544,692 people living in lowrise apartment. I was referring mostly to apartments of 2-4 stories that are attached to each other, most of Chicago's apartment buildings seem to have small side-setbacks.

One way of comparing cities would be to add up the population living in census tracts of x density of more. Chicago might beat Montreal in sheer numbers for this but doubtfully in percentages

Total Population of Montreal urban area: 3,447,947

Population above...
100,000 ppsm: 6,762 (0.20%)
75,000 ppsm: 11,311 (0.33%)
50,000 ppsm: 36,338 (1.05%)
40,000 ppsm: 143,623 (4.17%)
30,000 ppsm: 376,068 (10.91%)
25,000 ppsm: 607,555 (17.62%)
20,000 ppsm: 803,131 (23.29%)
15,000 ppsm: 1,187,982 (34.45%)
10,000 ppsm: 1,720,823 (49.91%)
5,000 ppsm: 2,694,186 (78.14%)

And regarding the distribution of housing types in the City of Vancouver (which is includes only a small part of the urban area by Canadian standards)

Total units: 253,385
Single Family detached: 48,397 (19.1%)
Single Family attached: 12,162 (4.8%)
Duplex: 42,822 (16.9%)
Apartments under 5 stories: 88,178 (34.8%)
Apartments 5 stories or more: 61,319 (24.2%)

Last edited by memph; Mar 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM.
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 9:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by memph View Post
Total Population of Montreal urban area: 3,447,947

Population above...
100,000 ppsm: 6,762 (0.20%)
75,000 ppsm: 11,311 (0.33%)
50,000 ppsm: 36,338 (1.05%)
40,000 ppsm: 143,623 (4.17%)
30,000 ppsm: 376,068 (10.91%)
25,000 ppsm: 607,555 (17.62%)
20,000 ppsm: 803,131 (23.29%)
15,000 ppsm: 1,187,982 (34.45%)
10,000 ppsm: 1,720,823 (49.91%)
5,000 ppsm: 2,694,186 (78.14%)
Comparing to Toronto

Urban area population: 5,178,773

Population above
100,000 ppsm: 35,729 (0.69%)
75,000 ppsm: 63,960 (1.24%)
50,000 ppsm: 173,254 (3.35%)
40,000 ppsm: 251,625 (4.86%)
30,000 ppsm: 404,272 (7.81%)
25,000 ppsm: 583,661 (11.27%)
20,000 ppsm: 993,659 (19.19%)
15,000 ppsm: 1,655,799 (31.97%)
10,000 ppsm: 2,878,493 (55.58%)
5,000 ppsm: 4,407,669 (85.11%)

And Vancouver

Urban area population: 2,189,688

Population above
100,000 ppsm: 4,946 (0.23%)
75,000 ppsm: 4,946 (0.23%)
50,000 ppsm: 50,421 (2.30%)
40,000 ppsm: 75,408 (3.44%)
30,000 ppsm: 145,090 (6.63%)
25,000 ppsm: 201,184 (9.19%)
20,000 ppsm: 295,282 (13.49%)
15,000 ppsm: 522,205 (23.85%)
10,000 ppsm: 943,200 (43.07%)
5,000 ppsm: 1,735,265 (79.25%)
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 10:06 PM
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This thread seems like vs. bait.
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 10:15 PM
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In Toronto, outside the Greater Downtown area, a lot of density (not just residential, but commerical as well) in concentrated above and around subway stations. This has continued even with the newest line (Sheppard) that opened about 10 years ago.
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 10:25 PM
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New York has been anomalously dense for pretty much all of its history. Even going back to the high-water 1950 Census, it was half again as dense as the second densest major city -- Chicago, which narrowly beat out San Francisco.

Quote:
City.....population....area...density
1 New York city, NY *...... 7,891,957....315.1....25,046
2 Chicago city, IL......... 3,620,962....207.5....17,450
3 Philadelphia city, PA.... 2,071,605....127.2....16,286
4 Los Angeles city, CA..... 1,970,358....450.9.....4,370
5 Detroit city, MI......... 1,849,568....139.6....13,249
6 Baltimore city, MD....... 949,708....78.7....12,067
7 Cleveland city, OH....... 914,808....75.0.... 12,197
8 St. Louis city, MO....... 856,796....61.0....14,046
9 Washington city, DC...... 802,178....61.4....13,065
10 Boston city, MA.......... 801,444....47.8....16,767

11 San Francisco city, CA... 775,357....44.6....17,385
12 Pittsburgh city, PA...... 676,806....54.2....12,487
13 Milwaukee city, WI....... 637,392....50.0....12,748
14 Houston city, TX......... 596,163....160.0....3,726
15 Buffalo city, NY......... 580,132....39.4....14,724
16 New Orleans city, LA..... 570,445.... 199.4 ....2,861
17 Minneapolis city, MN..... 521,718.... 53.8.... 9,697
18 Cincinnati city, OH...... 503,998.... 75.1....6,711
19 Seattle city, WA......... 467,591....70.8.... 6,604
20 Kansas City city, MO..... 456,622....80.6....5,665
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 10:41 PM
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Another way to look at the density of various cities is the weighted or perceived density. Basically, it describes the average density a person lives at. Most people have done it by census tracts, so it would be the density of the average census tract. So if you have a census tract with a population of 5000 on 0.25 sq miles (20,000 ppsm) and another census tract with a population of 5000 on 2 squares miles (2,500 ppsm), the weighted density would be the average of 2,500 ppsm and 20,000 ppsm, or 11,250 ppsm as opposed to a gross density of 10000/2.25=4444 ppsm. You basically multiply the density of each census tract by the %of the total population.

Nei at city data found the weighted densities of different parts of NYC:


From: http://www.city-data.com/forum/urban...-wealth-8.html

Those numbers suggest that Manhattan N of 59th street would have a weighted density of 124,124ppsm and population of 979,248.

One thing that's interesting is that the Bronx's weighted density is higher than Brooklyn's even though the Bronx's gross density is lower. This means most of the Bronx's residents live on a small part of the land while Brooklyn is more evenly spread out.
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2012, 11:13 PM
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Manhattan's population density is amazing. The closest Toronto gets is the downtown core:



This area is about 1/5 the size of Manhattan (4.5 square miles) and had 175,064 people in 2011, up from 132,434 in 2006. Population density is 38,903 people/square mile. The population would need to reach roughly 320,000 to match Manhattan density. Toronto's downtown core population continues to surge, but it will take a generation to reach Manhattan density levels.
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Old Posted Mar 4, 2012, 12:26 AM
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Interesting numbers regarding Bronx v Brooklyn.
Is there a list of cities in the US by weighted density?
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Old Posted Mar 4, 2012, 12:51 AM
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Three Shanghai districts have population densities greater than 80,000ppsm.
Hongkou - 92943ppsm
Jing'an - 82910ppsm
Huangpu - 84917ppsm

Combined, the central 8 districts of Puxi (Jing'an, Huangpu, Hongkou, Xuhui, Changning, Putuo, Zhabei, Yangpu - mostly bounded by the Inner Elevated Ring Road) have a population of 6,986,214 (2010) and an area of 289.4 square kilometres (113 square miles), giving an overall density of 61824ppsm.

The inner suburban districts (Minhang, Pudong, Baoshan, and Jiading - mostly bounded by the Outer Ring Road, but also including a fair bit of farm land and industrial land beyond the Ring) have a population of 10,849,919 and an area of 2,316.3 square kilometres (904 square miles) giving an overall density of 12002ppsm.

The outermost suburban districts (Songjiang, Jinshan, Fengxian, and Qingpu) add a further 4,479,293 people in a mostly rural 2549.2 square kilometres (996 square miles) with a population density of 4497ppsm.

For the inner and outer suburbs, the population density is most certainly not uniform - there are towns and villages with high population density surrounded by factories and farms with very low density.
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