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Old 06-24-2015, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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What are the highest densities achieved in U.S. cities? This doesn't necessarily mean the highest average density within the city limits but instead the highest densities reached in the urban core. Manhattan, for example, reached its highest density between 1910 and 1920 (106K ppsm).

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2...sent.html?_r=0
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Old 06-24-2015, 09:49 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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In Pittsburgh, the highest density census tracts in 1940 were in the Lower Hill District, a (by then) majority black neighborhood which was destroyed to build an arena a little over a decade later. At the time two of the census tracts had population densities of roughly 100,000 per square mile. By the standards in the NY Times article, however, this comes out to around 18 people per 5,000 square feet, which isn't much denser than the modern Lower East Side. It was structurally dense, but a very low slung neighborhood, with few buildings over four stories.

Historically, there were probably denser neighborhoods than this closer to 1900. The other old rowhouse neighborhoods in the Lower North Side, Lawrenceville, South Side had seen decreasing population density for decades by 1940, due to falling family size and expansion of factories. That said, Social explorer's data by census tract only goes back to 1940, so I cannot give details here.

Last edited by JMT; 06-24-2015 at 12:22 PM.. Reason: Violation of rules for posting images
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Old 06-24-2015, 10:03 AM
 
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A lot of the reason neighborhoods were denser back then was because household sizes were far larger, especially in immigrant-majority neighborhoods. People used to try to fit 8 people in 2 bedroom tenements and apartments in the dense northeastern cities. Structural density will still feel the same though.
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Old 06-24-2015, 10:29 AM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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I made a post of 1950 density maps of the then 12 largest American cities via social explorer. Not quite peak density for some cities, but close.

Urban Density Comparisons
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Old 06-24-2015, 12:33 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
I made a post of 1950 density maps of the then 12 largest American cities via social explorer. Not quite peak density for some cities, but close.

Urban Density Comparisons
Yeah, but not always peak density for the urban core.

Here's a 1943 map showing population changes in regions of Pittsburgh from 1880 to 1940.



Some regions are not graphed, because they were relatively late annexations into either Pittsburgh or Old Allegheny City. Even by 1940, these were still growing in overall density.

Regardless, you can see the population of Downtown (called Triangle here) and the Lower Strip peaked in 1880, if not earlier. The Upper Strip and Lower South Side West were below their 1880 totals already. Many other neighborhoods (all of the old-stock rowhouse neighborhoods) had already peaked in terms of population. The only one here which recovered was Oakland, as the growth of University of Pittsburgh and CMU meant students kept the population density high. Elsewhere, family sizes shrunk, and the expansion of factories meant less and less land was taken up by housing.

The explosion of streetcar suburb and early automotive suburbs meant that populations in the city continued to grow as a whole until 1950 or so. But the population of the actual urban portions of the city may have peaked in 1930 or even earlier.
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Old 06-24-2015, 02:41 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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Here's my calculation for North, South and Center City Philly in 1940.

Population: 845,548
Land Area: 27.37 square miles
Density: 30,893 persons per sq. mi.

Philadelphia was at its densest after the 1910 Census. At that time, South Philadelphia had a population around 375,000. The urban core likely had closer to 1 million people before the development of West Philly.

West Philly (using the traditional boundary of Baltimore Avenue) had a population of 294,825 in 1940.

Last edited by BajanYankee; 06-24-2015 at 02:54 PM..
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