If you have 2 minutes, take a look at this video showing how dense Manhattan became between 1800 and 2010.

As described in a great article in the Atlantic’s City Lab, the video tracks neighborhood population densities on Manhattan using historical maps, aerial photographs, and census ward statistics.

City Lab points out two interesting things about the video-

  1. Population densities in Manhattan’s neighborhoods reached their peaked in 1910, fell for 70 years, and have been rising slowly since 1980. But Manhattan’s current population density is nowhere close to what it was in 1910.
  2. Manhattan was completely built up by 1951 (Battery Park City, later built on a landfill, notwithstanding).

The video was produced by the NYU Stern Urbanization Project, based on research by Shlomo Angel and Patrick Lamson-Hall. Angel and Lamson-Hall’s research paper on density in Manhattan is a very interesting read.

And you think New York City is crowded?

Take a look at the NYU Stern Urbanization Project’s youtube channel.

They point out that the urban population of the developing world is projected to grow from 2.5 billion to roughly 7.5 billion in the next 100 years. How will all these new urban residents be accommodated? The average city size in the developing world will have to triple; and/or entirely new cities will need to be built, says NYU.