Originally Posted by Chicago103
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.
I'm the nei memph
mentioned in the third post. I just join this forum and want tochime in. First, even with just row houses NYC reaches densities not commonly found in Chicago. Park Slope
(roughly between the Park and 4th Ave in the view) in Brooklyn is mostly all brownstone row houses with not that many apartment buildings. There are some scattered apartment building but I doubt large enough to make much of a difference. Here's an example of a street
in the neighborhood. Most tracts are between 50k-65k / square mile; the one in that view is on has a density of 57 / sq mile, with a few apartment buildings on the east edge. The whole area has a similar density, so my guess is the apartments aren't making much of a difference; the mostly identical row houses create mostly identical densities. It seems like Chicago doesn't have densities like this except right by the city center (by the Near North Side along the river), but I'm not very familiar with Chicago. To get 20+ k / sq mile in a census tract 2 family homes are sufficient; most of Somerville, MA is 2 family homes with some triple deckers on small lots with no row houses or apartments. Most tracts around 22 k / sq mile.
Looking at neighborhoods near JFK is a bit atypical of Queens. Much of the area around JFK was built after 1940, and is postwar suburban development that happend to be within the city limits. Single family homes on small lots. Much of the growth in NYC from 1940-1970 was from filling undeveloped land often in areas far from subways, that were unsuitable for residential use until mass automobile ownership. Queens grew by 50% from 1940 to 1970. NYC had white flight from core neighborhoods to outer neighborhoods in the postwar decades, which masked inner city decline. Does Chicago have similar neighborhoods? The neighborhood by LaGuardia is denser than neighborhoods by JFK, as it's a bit closer to the city center; but portions of it are far from a subway; meaning it got developed less dense than usual. So, the neighborhoods you looked at in Queens might be similar in density to Chicago's "bungalow belt" neighborhoods; but they're not typical Queens neighborhoods. Denser areas of Queens near subway lines are filled with blocks like this
as well row house like block like this
. Queens neighborhoods without any apartment buildings like this one
have a density of 25,000 per square mile; about the same as the average weighted density of Chicago. I suspect NYC demolished a lot of its lower density housing stock with apartment buildings and Chicago didn't. But yea, you're right, NYC builds apartment building housing far from the city center.