- New York City includes dozens of neighbourhoods across its five boroughs: Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens, and the Bronx.
- Those neighbourhoods draw people from around the world, and residents speak a plethora of languages.
- Using census data from the Minnesota Population Centre, we found the three most commonly spoken languages in each neighbourhood.
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Recent Census population estimates show that New York suffered a bigger population decline than any other state between 2018 and 2019.
But despite that drop, New York City continues to be a thriving cosmopolitan metropolis. One example of NYC’s vibrancy is the plethora of languages spoken across the five boroughs.
The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey provides a picture of several demographic, economic, and social characteristics of the US population. One of the questions on the survey asks respondents what language they mainly speak at home. Using data from the Minnesota Population Centre’s 2011-15 ACS Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, we found the top three languages spoken in each neighbourhood.
For our working definition of neighbourhood, we used the Census Bureau’s Public Use Microdata Areas, which are designed to allow small-scale geographic analyses of individual-level ACS data. In New York, these areas mostly correspond to the city’s community districts (or groups of two for areas with smaller populations), so they’re a pretty good proxy for neighbourhoods.
Here are the three most common languages spoken at home in each New York City neighbourhood.
The most commonly spoken language in most neighbourhoods is English.
Spanish is the most common language spoken at home in several neighbourhoods in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and northern Manhattan and Queens.
Brooklyn Community District 13, covering Brighton Beach and Coney Island, has Russian as its most common language.
The No. 2 most commonly spoken language in most neighbourhoods is Spanish.
Several neighbourhoods in Queens and Brooklyn have other languages falling in the second-place spot.
Here’s a close-up of Brooklyn and Queens highlighting some of the second most common languages that aren’t English or Spanish.
Pockets of Chinese and Russian show up here, and Haitian or French Creole (marked as “Creole” on the map) is common in a large swath of eastern Brooklyn.
In most neighbourhoods, neither English nor Spanish is the third most common language.
In the next slides, we’ll take a closer look at the city’s boroughs.
Here’s the No. 3 most commonly spoken language in each neighbourhood in Manhattan and the Bronx.
Chinese and French are common in Manhattan, while languages in the African Kru family are prevalent in several Bronx neighbourhoods.
Here’s the No. 3 most commonly spoken language in each neighbourhood in Brooklyn and Queens.
A mix of languages shows up in these two boroughs.
And here’s the third most common language in each neighbourhood in Staten Island.
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