Population Growth Patterns in the New York CSA, 1900-2016

The long-term growth trend of the New York City Combined Statistical Area (NYC CSA) has generally been robust.  As the gif map below the fold shows, it has grown every decade since 1900 except the 1970s:

Warning: This diary will be graphics-intensive. Clicking on the gif maps should bring you to my hosting source, makeagif.com. You can stop, forward and reverse the maps by right-clicking on the map there, and selecting “Show Controls”.

CSAs are made up of component Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas.  Not every component Metro/Micro area has been so lucky to always gain population:


In particular, the Kingston MSA (a.k.a. Ulster County) significantly lost population in the 1910s.  The reasons for this are unclear, but may have been the construction of the Ashokan Reservoir and decline of the county’s brick making and cement industry.  Also, MSAs on the outer fringes of the New York CSA have been losing population this decade.  More on this later.

As you can see from the map, the population loss of the 1970s was largely due to a decline in the core New York City MSA.

The county-level 1900-2016 map shows even more variation (the numbers overlaying the counties are raw population change):

Many NYC boroughs had been losing population before 1970, but the bulk of the NYC Metro’s 1970s population loss was due to losses in New York City and its immediate suburbs. Gains in the outer suburbs were not enough to make up for this population loss.

Note that the Bronx was part of New York County until 1914. Some of the 1910-20 Manhattan (New York County) population loss was due to the separation.

Yearly county population estimates are available from 1980 onward. I’ve mapped the yearly population change below. I think there is a lot of noise in the 1999-2000 estimate change because the 2000 estimates were revamped after the census:

You can see how the NYC exurban counties started to lose population around 2009 or so. This trend is even more evident on the NYC CSA town percentage population growth gif map from 2000-16:

NYC and its inner suburbs generally lost population in the early 2000s, only to generally regain population since 2009 or so.

You can see this exurban flight pattern more clearly on the static map of NYC CSA town population growth map from 2010-16. This map might be helpful for redistricting purposes:

This exurban flight pattern is somewhat unique to large cities like New York. You don’t see it as much in smaller cities. Perhaps more on this in another diary.

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  • shamlet July 19, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Very cool! Thanks!

    I know it’s not possible because the census doesn’t break this down nicely, but something like this for NYC neighborhoods would also be very interesting, especially since it wouldn’t reflect new construction for the last 50 years or so. Other than a boom in the outer boroughs in the early-to-mid-20th century and a total collapse everywhere around the 70s I’m not exactly sure how the neighborhoods would have grown differently since they’ve been built-out for so long.

    R, MD-7. Put not your trust in princes. Process is more important than outcome.

    • cinyc July 19, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Unfortunately, American Community Survey census tract/block group and zip code data is only available for a few recent years. So you’re not going to be able to see much recent yearly micro-level growth at things like the NYC neighborhood level. I might be able to get the 1980-2010 ten year census block group data to do a neighborhood analysis for those years – but that’s a very long-term project.

      • shamlet July 19, 2017 at 12:05 pm

        Yeah, no worries, I was mostly just speculating what it would look like if such data existed.

        R, MD-7. Put not your trust in princes. Process is more important than outcome.

  • Republican Michigander July 19, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    I think NYC may be the most unique city in the country. It’s almost 5 cities in one. Far Rockaway Queens is about 25 miles or so from City Hall. Far Staten Island is 30 miles. North Bronx is about 20. Technically, that is the same city. In addition, NY Driving is crazy. 25 miles in NY is like 100 miles here.

    I’m 50 miles from Detroit City Hall. There’s an argument whether Livingston County is even part of Metro Detroit (I say that’s tri-county, some say it is). 50 miles from NYC border is probably the middle of Lawn Guyland, Westchester, or Bergin County.

    Detroit isn’t a small city by area, but 25 miles from city hall is either Pontiac or northern Bloomfield Hills, Mt Clemens, Farmington Hills or Novi, Belleville, or Rockwood (Downriver).

    MI-08 - Michigan is a red state again. We need a 50 state strategy and an 83 county strategy.

  • w920us July 20, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    Amusing to see Carbon County, PA in the NYC CSA. One little county (of Jim Thorpe fame) that has shifted dramatically to the GOP.

    R, South Philly, 47, Gay, WFU Alum
    #TrumpVoter #NeverHillary

    • californianintexas July 21, 2017 at 12:32 am

      Carbon used to be a bellwether county for predicting how the state goes. It had a near-perfect record in the presidential races from 1916 to 2000, before the R trend picked up, with one miss in 1960. It also has a perfect record in the governor races.

      34, Female, Libertarian, UT-02 (hometown CA-31), theelectionsgeek.com

    • cinyc July 21, 2017 at 3:04 am

      Some of the CSA boundaries don’t make much sense. Carbon County, PA is probably only in the NYC CSA because a good percentage of the people who live there work in Lehigh County, PA (Allentown), putting it in the Allentown metro, and a lesser percentage of people in Lehigh or Northampton Counties commute to work in NYC or its suburbs, putting it in the NYC CSA.

      These boundaries get changed every 5 years – we’re actually due for a 2017 update, probably in early 2018.

      I’ve put the LA, Chicago and Washington-Baltimore CSA maps on my twitter (@cinyc9) and at uselectionatlas.org (http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=268918.0). I’ll probably write another diary here when I have a bigger CSA map library so that I can provide overarching commentary, instead of doing things piecemeal.

      I have already mapped the 2000-16 town changes in the top 50 metro areas on Atlas (http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=265328.0), but I was very inconsistent about sticking to actual metro boundaries. For example, my Detroit map included Monroe County, which is in the CSA but not the MSA, but didn’t include Lapeer and Saint Clair Counties, which are in the Detroit MSA, despite being further away from the city of Detroit than Monroe. You can probably find all the raw maps on my makeagif.com account (cinyc9), too.

      • Republican Michigander July 21, 2017 at 12:24 pm

        I’ve always considered the Detroit Metro area as the tri-county area. When I was growing up, past Wixom was considered jokingly the end of civilization. The county border is about 6 miles west of there. (Novi, Wixom, Lyon Twp/New Hudson/Milford, county line to Brighton Twp). It’s now built to around New Hudson and then rural, and then building again around Brighton.

        Further complicating Livingston is that it’s split 4 ways in terms of influence. Even in eastern Livingston, I’m 50 miles from downtown Detroit, 40-45 miles from Flint, about 40-45 miles from downtown Lansing, and 25 miles from downtown Ann Arbor (shudders).

        Monroe County is really split with 3 areas. The Milan area is more “metro Ann Arbor.” The NE part is basically an extension downriver. The Temperence/Luna Pier/Erie area is basically Metro Toledo. I always thought of it as Toledo area.

        MI-08 - Michigan is a red state again. We need a 50 state strategy and an 83 county strategy.

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