Transient City

If you follow this blog, you’ll know that we launched UncoverYourCity to help people better understand New York.  Here’s another example of interesting things we can learn about the city by playing with the data.

Let’s say you wanted to see the relationship between people renting and their household income.   A few things emerge here: if you’re, on average, poor, you rent.  If you’re rich, you buy.  The poorest Districts of New York are in the southern Bronx and a shocking 92% of people rent; just up the Harlem River, 94% of people in Morris Heights rent.  The average family income here is around $17-22K per year.

The converse is also in the south: in southern Staten Island, 85% of people own and the household income hovers near $83K.  Here’s a comparison of all the districts side by side.

However, if you look at the plot of household income vs. rental rates you’ll notice a bunch of outliers in the upper right corner:

These are a couple of districts towards the tip of Manhattan (districts 1, 2, and 4-8) plus district 6 in Brooklyn (Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope).

What’s going on here?  Well, if you asked me to pick the areas in New York where people who are passing through (i.e., getting experience before they move to a different city or start a family in the suburbs) live, I would pick these neighborhoods.  These are places where younger professionals move to get experience yet maintain a high quality of life (yes, there are lots of people there who are neither young nor professional, but we’re talking ‘on average’ here) and this may be why we see this litter cluster of outliers.

What’s interesting is what’s not in the set of outliers: Williamsburg (Brooklyn District 1) and the Lower East Side (Manhattan District 3).  My bet is that these neighborhoods are both subsumed by the averages of their districts and their more bohemian younger residents may have a lower average family income.

This data doesn’t tell the whole story, but it does help us understand the city a bit better.  More fun examples in future posts.

Hard Times A’Coming?

I’ve noticed three interesting things in New York over the past few weeks.

1) I don’t get nearly as much junk mail as I used to.  In fact, a few days this week I’ve had no mail at all (don’t know if that should make me happy or sad).  My guess is that the credit card companies are cutting down on their marketing budgets to keep profits high.

2) There are a bunch of billboards for rent near me – including a couple down in the meatpacking district that are about as good as they get for location.

3) They just can’t seem to lease space in Chelsea Market right now.  There are a bunch of shops that have gone under and not been replaced.

These are anecdotes, and the plural of anecdote is not data, but is America’s “recession that isn’t” finally coming to NYC?