Monday, March 5, 2012
The New York Times asks How Many People Can Live In Manhattan? The piece does a nice job of putting current city densities in historical context:
Some perspective: As crowded as the city feels at times, the present-day Manhattan population, 1.6 million, is nowhere near what it once was. In 1910, a staggering 2.3 million people crowded the borough, mostly in tenement buildings. It was a time before zoning, when roughly 90,000 windowless rooms were available for rent, and a recent immigrant might share a few hundred square feet with as many as 10 people. At that time, the Lower East Side was one of the most crowded places on the planet, according to demographers. Even as recently as 1950, the Manhattan of “West Side Story” was denser than today, with a population of two million.
UPDATE: If you don't have time to read the article, you should at least check out this infographic. It's terrific (although if you have claustrophobia, it might make you anxious).