Inequality in the US is a huge issue, and this inequality can be seen by looking at New York City’s neighborhoods.
The Census Bureau recently released data from the 2009-2013 American Community Survey. The survey provides an amazingly comprehensive look at the demographic, social, and economic makeup of the country. In this data set, for the first time, the Census Bureau has released ACS estimates at the block group level. A block group for an urban area is essentially a block, a small group of blocks, or a small neighbourhood. Previously, data at this fine geographic scale was only available from the results of the full Census, performed every ten years.
Data at this level allows us to put our cities under a microscope. We decided to take a look at the geographic distribution of income within New York City. The following map shows the median income by block group for the whole city. As a caveat, it should be noted that, as comprehensive as the American Community Survey is, block groups are still areas with very small populations, and so these are just estimates, subject to a fair amount of uncertainty.
Darker blue areas have higher median incomes, and grey areas have no data. The latter are mostly uninhabited parts of the city, like parks:
At the city-wide level, we can see that the southern half of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island have the highest incomes in New York, while eastern Brooklyn and the Bronx are struggling.
We can also take a look at each borough in turn to see how income is spread out within each part of the city.
In Manhattan, we can see that incomes are pretty high stretching from the financial district at the far south of the island up through the Upper East and Upper West Sides surrounding Central Park. The Lower East Side still has much lower median incomes, as does much of Upper Manhattan. Especially stark is the drop off between the UES and East Harlem.
Northwest Brooklyn features two affluent regions: a stretch from Downtown to Park Slope, and the frequently discussed gentrifying neighborhoods around Williamsburg. Further east are the rather poorer neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York.
Queens is more of a patchwork than Manhattan or Brooklyn. Eastern Queens has slightly higher incomes than the central parts of the borough, and the western half of the Rockaways also has more affluent communities.
The Bronx has been the poorest of the five boroughs for decades, and this shows in the swath of white and light blue on the map.
Staten Island is less densely populated than the other four boroughs, leading to its block groups being somewhat larger in area than elsewhere in the city. The borough also largely has block groups with fairly high median incomes, but with low-income pockets scattered throughout.