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  #101  
Old Posted Jun 17, 2012, 7:31 PM
mhays mhays is offline
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Seattle is doing that, though on a smaller scale than some others. We've always had some reasonably dense non-CBD core districts like Capitol Hill, First Hill, the U-District, and Lower Queen Anne, unlike most US cities of our size and vintage. Not there's a sizeable long-term trend toward the existing core districts getting denser, the emergence of new core districts are emerging like South Lake Union, and major growth in neighborhood nodes all over town. Even if it's never highrises.

This is a sea change, even if anything not walkable to Downtown tends to max out at six stories or maybe eight. And it barely touches our vast SFR areas. We used to have house areas and low-density commercial districts that typically had a good traditional street but also a lot of parking. Apartments were predominant in those core districts and other view areas, with a scattering otherwise.

This has been happening since the late 80s at a decent clip. Not flashy, way too up and down for my taste, but significant over that period especially considering where we started. That plus a moderate highrise trend and some townhouses etc. are why Seattle has gained 25% since the 1986 estimate without starting with a lot of vacant land, i.e. it's mostly second-generation infill.

The last boom finished up around 2009, and the next one started breaking ground in late 2010. In starts since 2010, I count (vaguely in some neighborhoods) about 8,500 units underway now and maybe 2,000 completed in core in-town districts and other nodes. Also 2,200 beds at the University of Washington completed or underway. Most of the 10,500 are rentals, apparently the biggest rental boom we've ever had given that 2006 focused on condos.

If Seattle was Chicago, 10,500 wouldn't make a huge difference. But here it does. Neighborhoods are ratcheting up significantly. Neighborhood commercial nodes that might have had 200 residents in 10 acres in 2000 and 500 in 2010 should have 1,000 in 2013, with room for 2,000 eventually.

We have a long way to go as a city, transitwise and densitywise. But multifamily recently took the lead in total units vs single family. And the geographic area dominated by multifamily or mixed use is growing quickly.
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  #102  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 12:21 PM
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I was going to make a thread about this research I did on London's density pattern, but it seems like it fits well here, so here you go.

I've moved to London for a while and I have noticed a few things as I experience the city as a newcomer that I wanted to understand a little better.
I have found London to be sprawling and meandering with a feel that is not particularly dense (I live in the 2nd densest borough and I have to say it doesn't feel any denser than my neighborhood in San Francisco) but with many commercial nodes surrounded by more residential neighborhoods. A little digging revealed that Greater London (what people are usually talking about when they refer to London, not the City of London) was formed in 1965 and includes roughly 600 sq miles of what were once (many years ago) separate hamlets and townships inside the M25 motorway. This zone doesn't strike me as a good way to examine the actual city since no other cities I can think of measure that much land and large swaths of that space are not urbanized. I realize that pretty much all municipal boundaries have flaws, but I wondered if there was a better way to think about London.
On wikipedia I found Inner London, which seemed like a better way of measuring and thinking about London.

Below are each of the 12 boroughs in Inner London by area, population and density:

Camden: 235,400 in 8.4 sq miles, 28k ppsm
Greenwhich: 228,500 in 18.4 sq miles, 12k ppsm
Hackney: 219,200 in 7.3 sq miles. 30k ppsm
Hammersmith and Fulham: 169,700 in 6.3 sq miles, 27k ppsm
Islington: 194,100 in 5.74 sq miles, 34k ppsm
Kensington and Chelsea: 169,500 in 4.68 sq miles, 36k ppsm
Lambeth: 284,500 in 10.36 sq miles, 27k ppsm
Lewisham: 266,500 in 13.5 sq miles, 20k ppsm
Southwark: 287,000 in 11.14 sq miles, 26k ppsm
Tower Hamlets: 237,900 in 7.6 sq miles, 31k ppsm
Wandsworth: 289,600 in 13.23 sq miles, 22k ppsm
Westminster: 253,100 in 8.29 sq miles, 31k ppsm

2,834,800 in 114.94 = 24,663 ppl/sq mile
Or 123 sq miles by ONS definition with ~3 million people.

For comparison, Paris is over 2 million people in about 40 square miles, making it much denser than London.

Another comparison with the closest amount of square mileage would be NY's three boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and The Bronx at 136 sq miles with 5,526,595 people. This is clearly much, much denser than Inner London as well.
It appears that Inner London is somewhere between SF and NY in terms of density. I am not trying to compare these cities except to help me think about my day-in, day-out experience.

I hope this information was enlightening or helpful in some way.

Last edited by CyberEric; Jun 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM.
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  #103  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 12:30 PM
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That's interesting, the density of London sounds quite pleasant. I know most people on here are density hawks, but personally I'm pretty content with laid back very low rise neighborhoods around 10,000-15,000 ppsm which is the average density of the streetcar type area in St. Louis I live in. I know that's kind of sub-urban.
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  #104  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 1:00 PM
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It is a pleasant density. It's not as in-your-face urban as NY or even Paris, but still has the density you'd like. What I don't care for is how far you have to walk to get places, it's not nearly as walkable as some other cities I've lived in. It feels too spread out and sprawling at times despite its relative density, but at least the transit options are good.
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  #105  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 1:03 PM
nei nei is offline
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Originally Posted by Centropolis View Post
That's interesting, the density of London sounds quite pleasant. I know most people on here are density hawks, but personally I'm pretty content with laid back very low rise neighborhoods around 10,000-15,000 ppsm which is the average density of the streetcar type area in St. Louis I live in. I know that's kind of sub-urban.
Yea, London is a nice in between, a bit of compromise that the US doesn't have much. Chicago and San Francisco have similar densities but they're a much smaller fraction of the city (Inner London has a slightly higher population than Chicago at about double the density).
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  #106  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 5:34 PM
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^ Or Brooklyn, which feels similar to the North Side of Chicago to me.
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  #107  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 6:05 PM
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^ Or Brooklyn, which feels similar to the North Side of Chicago to me.
Eh. Brooklyn is far denser. Only a couple section of the North Side come close. Brooklyn has large sections denser than just about anything in London, too.
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  #108  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 7:03 PM
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London is great, but not as dense as I'd like. In many areas, it covers for this by being a destination, particularly much of the West End and basically near any tube or train station. But it's misc. neighborhoods not as much.

I'll commit heresy again. Some of the parks are too big. It's a chore getting from one side of Kensington/Hyde or Regents to the other, and they're basically black holes for urbanity. Part of this is because they tend to be lined by other low-use things.
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  #109  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 7:12 PM
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Northern European cities are less dense than Southern European cities, and IMO, the street-level feel is, on a relative basis a bit lacking (though the cities certainly make up for this in other ways).

I think the two main reasons are wealth and WWII. Northern Europe has, in recent times, been significantly richer, which hastened the development of the single family home and suburb.

And WWII destroyed much of Northern Europe, which led to postwar Corbusian-style rebuilding. The wealth of the region allowed for grandiose, more autocentric schemes that were impossible under Franco in Spain or the annual Parliamentary collapses in Italy.

One result is that the Mediterannean countries have significantly denser urbanity. There's a big difference between Naples & Marseille on one hand, and Hamburg & Glasgow on the other.

France is kinda an outlier with my theory, because France was rich and stable, and is considered more Northern European, and did a ton of postwar reconstruction, but has always had less single family living and more high density development. Really all French cities have amazing density.
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  #110  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 7:23 PM
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France is kinda an outlier with my theory, because France was rich and stable, and is considered more Northern European, and did a ton of postwar reconstruction, but has always had less single family living and more high density development. Really all French cities have amazing density.
France was also the major European country least bombed during the war. Not having to rebuild always helps.
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  #111  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 7:49 PM
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Originally Posted by nei View Post
Eh. Brooklyn is far denser. Only a couple section of the North Side come close. Brooklyn has large sections denser than just about anything in London, too.
I'm sure that's the case overall, and in areas like downtown Brooklyn or Rockaway. I'm talking more about Williamsburg or brownstone Brooklyn. Park Slope and Lincoln Park are pretty comparable at least in terms of how dense they feel (and demographics seem pretty similar).
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  #112  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 8:01 PM
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I'd say Park Slope and Lincoln Park are vaguely, roughly similar in density, especially if we're talking East Lincoln Park (esp. East of Clark St. to the lake).

But if we're talking all of Lincoln Park and all of Park Slope, there's still a very significant difference, IMO. The streets off Halstead or Lincoln are of a different structural sort than the brownstone blocks in Park Slope (detached vs. attached homes, alleys vs. no alleys, sidewalk grass strips vs. concrete), and I suspect the population density is pretty different.

And Lincoln Park, along with Old Town, seem to have a ton of single family homes. That isn't the predominant form anywhere in Park Slope (even the rich blocks near the Park usually have accessory lower level rentals).

I would say, based purely on density, East Lakeview would be closer to Park Slope, though the demographics and feel are totally different.
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  #113  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 8:37 PM
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No I get that. Even comparing, say, the Gold Coast in Chicago to the UES, UWS or Brownstone Brooklyn, the scale of the rows is just bigger in New York. There's an extra story on everything and no gaps.

But I'm talking more about how peopled the neighborhoods are than I am about the built environment. Yes strictly speaking the built density is greater in Brooklyn, but the combined effect of built environment, tree cover, pedestrian traffic, cyclists, width of the streets, etc. reminds me, as someone who grew up in Chicago and has lived in Manhattan since 2004, of Chicago's North Side. And I actually met somebody this weekend who was from Brooklyn, recently returned from Chicago and said it reminded him of "one big Brooklyn" (obviously not bigger than all of Brooklyn, but he's talking about that section).
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  #114  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 8:47 PM
nei nei is offline
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I'm sure that's the case overall, and in areas like downtown Brooklyn or Rockaway. I'm talking more about Williamsburg or brownstone Brooklyn. Park Slope and Lincoln Park are pretty comparable at least in terms of how dense they feel (and demographics seem pretty similar).
Lincoln Park has a density around 26k / sq mile; Park Slope around 55 k / sq mile. East of Clark St, Lincoln Park is a bit denser than Park Slope, but the area east of Clark St looks small.

I've never been to Lincoln Park, but I'm a bit surprised from your description. From the large density difference, I'd expect Park Slope to feel busier, or at least have more pedestrians.
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  #115  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 8:49 PM
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Originally Posted by CyberEric View Post
Camden: 235,400 in 8.4 sq miles, 28k ppsm
Greenwhich: 228,500 in 18.4 sq miles, 12k ppsm
Hackney: 219,200 in 7.3 sq miles. 30k ppsm
Hammersmith and Fulham: 169,700 in 6.3 sq miles, 27k ppsm
Islington: 194,100 in 5.74 sq miles, 34k ppsm
Kensington and Chelsea: 169,500 in 4.68 sq miles, 36k ppsm
Lambeth: 284,500 in 10.36 sq miles, 27k ppsm
Lewisham: 266,500 in 13.5 sq miles, 20k ppsm
Southwark: 287,000 in 11.14 sq miles, 26k ppsm
Tower Hamlets: 237,900 in 7.6 sq miles, 31k ppsm
Wandsworth: 289,600 in 13.23 sq miles, 22k ppsm
Westminster: 253,100 in 8.29 sq miles, 31k ppsm


2,834,800 in 114.94 = 24,663 ppl/sq mile
Or 123 sq miles by ONS definition with ~3 million people.

For comparison, Paris is over 2 million people in about 40 square miles, making it much denser than London.

Another comparison with the closest amount of square mileage would be NY's three boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and The Bronx at 136 sq miles with 5,526,595 people. This is clearly much, much denser than Inner London as well.
Interesting analysis. I looked up the City of Toronto, Old Toronto which is the inner city before amalgamation, and Downtown Toronto:

City of Toronto
240 square miles
2,615,060
10,750 people/square mile

Old Toronto
37 square miles
736,775
19,642 people/square mile

Downtown Toronto
4.5 square miles
175,064
38,903 people/square mile


The Old City of Toronto is an area about one-third the size of Inner London, but has a density approaching that of Inner London. Having lived in both London and Toronto, these figures seem about right. Toronto tends to get denser the closer to downtown one gets rather than the more uniform density one sees in London. Downtown Toronto is very dense and comparable to Kensington & Chelsea which I highlighted.
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Last edited by isaidso; Jun 18, 2012 at 9:03 PM.
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  #116  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 9:28 PM
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Originally Posted by nei View Post
Lincoln Park has a density around 26k / sq mile; Park Slope around 55 k / sq mile. East of Clark St, Lincoln Park is a bit denser than Park Slope, but the area east of Clark St looks small.

I've never been to Lincoln Park, but I'm a bit surprised from your description. From the large density difference, I'd expect Park Slope to feel busier, or at least have more pedestrians.
It could be close.....LP is more of a destination for most of the city of Chicago(land) than Park Slope is for NYC.....the Zoo, and DePaul University adds a great deal of pedestrian activity also. East LP is a different story from West LP. Its hard to really gauge, Density is only one factor, alas, the Upper East side's streets are surprisingly quiet for being the densest neighborhood in the country.
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Last edited by Segun; Jun 18, 2012 at 9:43 PM.
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  #117  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 10:14 PM
nei nei is offline
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Northern European cities are less dense than Southern European cities, and IMO, the street-level feel is, on a relative basis a bit lacking (though the cities certainly make up for this in other ways).

I think the two main reasons are wealth and WWII. Northern Europe has, in recent times, been significantly richer, which hastened the development of the single family home and suburb.

And WWII destroyed much of Northern Europe, which led to postwar Corbusian-style rebuilding. The wealth of the region allowed for grandiose, more autocentric schemes that were impossible under Franco in Spain or the annual Parliamentary collapses in Italy.

One result is that the Mediterannean countries have significantly denser urbanity. There's a big difference between Naples & Marseille on one hand, and Hamburg & Glasgow on the other.

France is kinda an outlier with my theory, because France was rich and stable, and is considered more Northern European, and did a ton of postwar reconstruction, but has always had less single family living and more high density development. Really all French cities have amazing density.
I think part of it might be culture as well. Even before postwar reconstruction, Northern European cities, especially the UK had less dense cities.

The French, like many parts of Northern Europe have suburbs full of single family homes on small lots like these:

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=paris...,242.9,,0,1.05

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=paris...70.17,,0,-4.29

those are hard to find in Spanish or Italian suburbs. Agree that French cities are very dense, though.
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  #118  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 10:19 PM
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It could be close.....LP is more of a destination for most of the city of Chicago(land) than Park Slope is for NYC.....the Zoo, and DePaul University adds a great deal of pedestrian activity also. East LP is a different story from West LP. Its hard to really gauge, Density is only one factor, alas, the Upper East side's streets are surprisingly quiet for being the densest neighborhood in the country.
Makes sense, since Lincoln Park is almost adjancent to the center city while Park Slope is not (almost double the distance besides being on another island).

Besides the museums, there isn't a whole lot to visit in the Upper East Side. Well, maybe some consulates and high end shopping (most of the shopping is on the southern side closer to Midtown). Still, density makes a difference, busy commercial sections are quite packed:

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Lexin...70.46,,0,-2.39
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  #119  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2012, 10:34 PM
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Definitely....its just retail/commercial usually adds more to pedestrian life than density alone.
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  #120  
Old Posted Jun 19, 2012, 4:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Segun View Post
It could be close.....LP is more of a destination for most of the city of Chicago(land) than Park Slope is for NYC.....the Zoo, and DePaul University adds a great deal of pedestrian activity also. East LP is a different story from West LP. Its hard to really gauge, Density is only one factor, alas, the Upper East side's streets are surprisingly quiet for being the densest neighborhood in the country.
Segun's exactly right. There are a lot of non-residents in LP because it's next to the park and the beach, it's got shops, restaurants and bars, there are students, etc. Same reason the West Village can seem more a hub of activity than the Upper East Side, despite the lesser population.

Just out of curiosity, what's the density figure for Carroll Gardens? I've got a friend that lives on Union St. and that area seems similar to me as well (not that there aren't plenty of non-residents on Smith Street especially).
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