Is New York City Running Out Of Room For All The People?

Katherine Ripley Katherine Ripley

Is New York City Running Out Of Room For All The People?

The US Census Bureau released data earlier this week indicating that the population of New York City has surpassed 8.5 million—an all time high. Queens and Brooklyn added the most residents, but the Bronx population grew by the biggest percentage.

This boom in population begs the question: Is New York City ever going to run out of room?

The number of apartments that are currently vacant in the city is astounding, considering how quickly the housing market moves here. According to a report by DNAinfo, the vacancy rate in Manhattan was 2.9 percent at the end of 2015. Since there are 850,000 total apartments in Manhattan, that means almost 25,000 are empty—and that’s just in one borough.

You also have to consider the fact that the population of Manhattan actually used to be much higher. It’s currently about 1.6 million, but in 1910 it was 2.3 million.

So it seems there is a lot of empty space to fit people. With new apartment buildings going up, New York seems ready and more than willing to take in more residents.

But is there a tipping point? Will New York City ever run out of room?

There’s no good estimate of how many people a city can support based on its resources (water, electricity, transportation), because the economic boost that comes with more residents could simply pay for more resources. With the rising cost of rent in NYC, it seems more likely that people will be turned away by the price tag before they’re turned away by overcrowding.

There are cities in the world which are currently much more crowded than New York, so it’s probably not time to panic yet. We’ll just have to see where this growth takes us. In the mean time, if you’re fed up with the crowds and the high rent prices, you could always move to Buffalo.


Cover photo credit: Angelo Amboldi/Flickr

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