Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

November 6, 2014

NYC’s Changing Neighborhood Demographics

By David Reiss

The Citizens Housing Planning Council has released a cool interactive map of NYC, Making Neighborhoods.  It “follows change across the city by putting people at the center of analysis. Our work measures and visualizes the movements of groups of New Yorkers who share demographic characteristics.”

The press release continues,

The project uses cluster analysis methodology–common in economic or marketing studies–to form 14 distinct groups, or “population clusters,” and follow their locations in 2000 and 2010. By comparing the two years, we can see which population types grew in number or geographic size, or moved into new areas; if their numbers declined or they retreated from their neighborhoods and were replaced by others; or if groups remained relatively unchanged in a decade. By following groups of people with shared characteristics, we see a different portrait of a changing city. It is one that New Yorkers will recognize, as it reflects the neighborhoods they make for themselves.

Making Neighborhoods stands out among neighborhood-level research being done today in two ways. First, it ignores government-drawn boundary lines like community districts and sub-borough areas, which often obscure important patterns that cross these borders. Second, it captures intersectional change: rather than measuring individual changes in income, race, education type, and so on, this study shows changes in all of those dimensions.

Our work on this project includes three main outputs. First, a full academic paper details the research methods, the cluster traits, their changes over the study period, and policy implications. We also created a report that summarizes and draws out the highlights of the full-length paper. Finally, we created–with help from Van Dam, Inc.interactive maps that communicate this fairly complex study in a stunning visualization.

In addition to distilling five overarching trends from the population cluster changes, CHPC and lead researcher Raisa Bahchieva performed an analysis of housing distress citywide. By measuring and locating the filing of lis pendens notices and housing code violations, we are able to see which population clusters are experiencing mortgage foreclosure or poor housing, respectively.

This is another cool mapping tool that helps to make sense of NYC’s complex geographic, political and social environment.

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