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A journey through wealth and poverty in New York City

The horizontal axis is moving South to North through adjacent census tracts on the route described.  The vertical axis is median household income in each census tract.

Why are there such extremes of wealth and poverty even inside a “developed” economy like New York City? What does it teach us about economic development and underdevelopment?

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  1. Fiona wrote:

    There are always losers in capitalist economies. And in highly populated areas, the losers will be in close proximity to the winners.

    Posted June 28, 2010 at 9:20 am | Permalink
  2. TheBroad wrote:

    Drive from Detroit to Flint along I-75, and the same thing will happen. Detroit (low) –> Troy/Bloomfield Hills area (absurdly high) –> Pontiac (low) –> Rochester (highish) –> Flint (low).

    Posted June 28, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink
  3. Steph wrote:


    I think there’s a lot going on here. For one, after Mayor Giuliani’s crusade to clean up NYC started in the 90s, a lot of young professionals and developers saw NYC as a safer place to live in. Many areas became gentrified, starting with artists who moved to formerly down trodden neighborhoods that were also in close proximity to Midtown and Downtown Manhattan (Western parts of Brooklyn, the Village, Lower East Side). Places like the Bronx went through no such “renewal” due to the fact that many young professionals find it too far from downtown and because of the reputation it still has. The Bronx is the poorest county in the US and is home to mostly immigrants and the children of immigrants. Since many young professionals have not looked at the Bronx as a good place to live, developers haven’t followed. Gentrification plays an important role as to why NYC looks the way it does.

    Posted June 28, 2010 at 10:20 am | Permalink
  4. caveat bettor wrote:

    Housing subsidies, via rent control and rent stabilization, apply to 70% of the rental market. So the only households who can afford to rent are either earning over $200,000 or else can pass a means test by earning under $100,000. A nice 1-bedroom in a popular neighborhood can easily fetch $4,000 or more per month. That same apartment will only cost $700 for an individual making $35,000 per year.

    Posted June 28, 2010 at 10:36 am | Permalink
  5. Sonya wrote:

    Is this graph that surprising given that New York City is the crown jewel of the capitalist kingdom? It’d be interesting to see how Stockholm or Copenhagen stack up…

    Posted June 29, 2010 at 10:17 am | Permalink
  6. KP wrote:

    Steph, while your logic has some truth to it, it belies the fact that the NORTH bronx is actually financially better off (though geographically more distant from Manhattan) than the south Bronx. So there’s more at play here than sheer gentrification.

    Posted June 29, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Permalink
  7. Graham wrote:

    Perhaps you could overlay a graph of years of education on the vertical axis in the same geographical areas? As a New Yorker who lives in Harlem, I predict that you would see a remarkable correspondence between the 2 graphs.

    The other two pieces of relevant data that would make this even more interesting would be: (1) parents’ marital status [since being born into a single parent family is the single best predictor of child poverty in the US] and (2) parent involvement in education [which is the single best predictor of a child’s academic achievement].

    Posted July 1, 2010 at 10:20 am | Permalink

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  2. […] neat chart showing the median household income as you travel from south to north in New York, along Third Avenue, from the southern tip of Manhattan all the way up to […]

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