Photo: Wikimedia Commons
How many people can fit on Manhattan’s 23.7 square miles of land?According to some wonky urban geography experts, the answer is 65 million people. That’s the number, at least, that Amy O’Leary reports in a fascinating New York Times article covering Manhattan’s complex infrastructure, and forecasts about it.
That estimate is based on the area with the highest density ever measured, Kowloon Walled City, an ungoverned settlement in Hong Kong demolished in 1994. O’Leary writes that the district, originally a Chinese military fort, was about the size of five football fields and housed around 35,000 people at its peak in the 1980s.
One city planner told O’Leary that the city “was basically a thick waffle of density,” based on the picture above.
The experts calculated that if Manhattan were as densely packed as Kowloon Walled City–meaning no roads, no parks, buildings everywhere–the city would house 65 million people. That’s relative to Manhattan’s present population, which stands at about 1.6 million.
If, O’Leary reports, the streets and parks remained, the population would be about half of 65 million.
Those are ridiculous numbers that will (we hope, at least in our lifetime) never come to be. But that they were based on a real city is thought-provoking.
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