The US Census Bureau has begun to release findings from the 2010 Census, showing a considerable Growth in Urban Population Outpaces Rest of Nation:
The nation’s most densely populated urbanized area is Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif., with nearly 7,000 people per square mile. The San Francisco-Oakland, Calif., area is the second most densely populated at 6,266 people per square mile, followed by San Jose, Calif. (5,820 people per square mile) and Delano, Calif. (5,483 people per square mile). The New York-Newark, N.J., area is fifth, with an overall density of 5,319 people per square mile.
What is interesting to me, is that using the MSA, which we have talked about before (Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas), but it is helpful to remember that the OMB defines MSA’s as, “one or more adjacent counties or county equivalents that have at least one urban core area of at least 50,000 population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.” Below is a comparison of the Los Angeles MSA (on the left) with the New York MSA on the right, along with data from the 2010 Census:
Los Angeles and New York City MSA, 2010 Census.
Dark poche indicates urbanized area or urban cluster of 10,000 or more
LA, Long Beach, Anaheim
||1,736.02 sq. miles
||6,999.3 people per sq. mile
NYC, Newark, Bridgeport
||3,450.2 sq. miles
||5,318.9 people per sq. mile
As you can see, the New York MSA is almost twice as big in land area as the Los Angeles MSA. If we look back up to the definition of a MSA, specifically the part about a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties, this makes sense: New York’s subway and commuter rail is magnitudes bigger and more effective than Los Angeles.
There is no doubt that the less dense suburban areas of Connecticut, New Jersey and Long Island bring down the top-line density figure. In this case, the MSA comparison hides more than it reveals: while LA is undoubtable denser than popular notions give it credit for, the more complete transportation system of New York creates a larger livable catchment area.
Also see Nate Berg’s article, U.S. Urban Population Is Up … But What Does ‘Urban’ Really Mean?.