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Monday, January 24, 2011

The Future of Ethnic Neighborhoods

A pretty good article about recent Demographic trends from the NY Times. Again, it's important to note that this is not a snapshot of the city today, or even in 2010. This is survey data from 2005 - 2009, and has a sometimes very significant margin of error.

One passage in the article that is very important, and kind of gets glossed over, is the following: American Community Survey data released last month revealed a striking metamorphosis during the last decade. Traditional ethnic enclaves sprawled amoeba-like into adjacent communities.

This, in my opinion, is going to be the future of New York. We are very, very used to thinking of neighborhoods in ethnic terms - Bensonhurst is Italian, Bed-Stuy is African-American, Washington Heights is Dominican, and so on. We are also very used to thinking of ethnic change as neighborhood-based and total: Ozone Park was Italian, then became South Asian; Riverdale was Irish, then became Jewish; the Lower East Side was Jewish, then became Puerto Rican, then becamse hipster/yuppie. This process can be short (East New York turned over from Jewish to African-American in about 2 years), or long (the turnover of the West and South Village from Italian to Yuppie took almost half a century), but it always ends the same - one group moves in, displacing the other.

But the future may hold something different. Instead of smaller, more solid ethnic neighborhoods, I think we'll be seeing larger, less solid, ethnic neighborhoods overlapping each other. And instead of one group slowly or quickly replacing another, I think we'll see a few different groups achieve a balance throughout a neighborhood.

The hows and whys of this theory, in my opinion, are really interesting but need to be backed up with some migration data that I haven't dug into yet. We'll see if me or the Times gets to this first

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I'm currently taking down my 1998-esque main site and transferring everything over to the two blogs (NYC blog and Travel blog). All the old pages will eventually end up here, although it might take a bit.