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Archive of posts filed under the Demographics category.

Denver Census Update 2015

It’s time for our annual look at population changes in Denver and other counties throughout Colorado. Use these links for previous years: 2014 | 2013 | 2010

For the sixth time in the past seven years, Denver County has led the state in numeric population growth, according to the US Census Bureau. The Census Bureau’s recently released 2014 population estimates show that Denver County (the City and County of Denver) had a population of 663,862 on July 1, 2014, an increase of 15,461 over their July 2013 estimate. Denver’s 2010 Census population count was 600,158.

Here are two tables I’ve prepared showing the “Vintage 2014” postcensal estimates for the Top 10 Colorado counties in both numeric and percentage population gain between 2013 and 2014 (click to embiggen):

2015-03-29_2013-2014-Top-10-Colorado-Counties-by-Numeric-Population-Change

2015-03-29_2013-2014-Top-10-Colorado-Counties-by-Percent-Population-Change

As you can see, Denver led the state with a gain of 15,461 and was in the Top 10 by percentage change with a respectable 2.38% increase. Denver also regained the title of the most populous county in Colorado, passing up El Paso County by 343 people. El Paso overtook Denver in 2004 and held a 22,105 advantage in 2010. The first table also reveals another interesting fact: Douglas County just passed up Boulder County in population.

Let’s take a look at the Top 10 Colorado counties in both numeric and percentage population gain between the 2010 Census and the new July 2014 estimates:

2015-03-29_2010-2014-Top-10-Colorado-Counties-by-Numeric-Population-Change

2015-03-29_2010-2014-Top-10-Colorado-Counties-by-Percent-Population-Change

Denver’s gain of 63,704 people since the 2010 Census easily surpasses the city’s entire population increase of 45,522 between the 2000 (554,636) and 2010 (600,158) Census counts, with six more years still to go before the 2020 Census. At this pace, Denver is likely to easily pass the 700,000 mark and could close in on 750,000. The Colorado State Demographer’s October 2014 forecast for Denver’s population in 2020 is 732,085.

Here are two additional analyses I’d like to share with you that focuses on just the seven-county Denver/Boulder metro area (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson counties). The first set of tables show the population counts and estimates from 2010 through 2014 for these seven metro counties, followed by a column percent-of-total table showing each county’s percent of the metro area total population for each of the five time periods:

2015-03-29_2010-2014-Metro-Denver-Counties-Percent-Share-of-Metro-Population

The far right column in the percentage table shows each county’s variance (in absolute percentage points) of share of metro population between 2010 and 2014. Denver began the decade with a 21.56% share, and that has increased by 2014 to 22.04%. While the increase is slight, it is notable considering that Denver’s share of the metro area population has been decreasing since the 1930s and this represents a reversal of that trend. Arapahoe’s percent share has stayed mostly flat, while Adams, Broomfield and Douglas counties have seen small increases. Boulder’s share has dropped slightly, with Jefferson County seeing the largest decrease of 0.66% percentage points. Also note that the total population for the seven Denver/Boulder metro area counties passed the 3 million mark for the first time.

The second analysis compares each county’s percent of metro area population growth from 2013-2014 to its share of the metro area population. If growth were proportionally distributed across the metro area, each county’s percent share of growth from 2013 to 2014 (its “growth capture rate”) would be the same as its share of metro population. Let’s take a look:

2015-03-29_2013-2014-County-Share-of-Growth-to-Share-of-Metro-Population-Comparison

The columns on the left show the numeric population changes for the seven counties between 2013 and 2014 and the percent each county captured of the metro total increase of 56,390. The next column to the right shows each county’s share of the metro population at the beginning of this time period (2013). The rightmost column compares these two percentages by calculating the absolute difference in percentage points. Denver’s 27.42% share of 2013-2014 metro growth is 5.48 percentage points higher than its proportional share of the metro population, indicating that Denver over-captured in population growth during the time period. Douglas, Adams, and Broomfield also grew more than their relative shares by a few percentage points. Arapahoe was down slightly, with Boulder and Jefferson counties significantly under-capturing their proportional share of metro area growth.

With landlocked Denver likely to continue to grow at a steady pace for the foreseeable future, infill development, higher-density development, transit-oriented development, and significant investment in bicycle, pedestrian, and transit infrastructure are absolutely critical to ensure we grow in a smart, sustainable manner.


Another way to see the US: Map of where nobody lives

There are more than 300 million people living in the United States today, but America is such a huge country that we still have staggeringly vast areas that are completely devoid of humans. This map illustrates those places. Everything colored green is a census block with zero population.


Map by Nik Freeman of mapsbynik.com.

The eastern US is pretty well populated except for a few spots in mountains and swamps. There’s plenty of rural land, plenty of forests, but you’re never far from a farm, if not a town.

The west is a completely a different story. It’s covered with enormous stretches of land that are simply empty of people. There are towns along major roads, rivers, and rail lines, but vast emptiness between.

And Alaska’s emptiness makes even the western contiguous states look densely populated. Those green areas near the Arctic Circle look bigger than entire states.


Map by Nik Freeman of mapsbynik.com.


Denver Census Update 2014

In the years following a decennial census, the US Census Bureau releases in March its county population estimates for July 1 of the preceding year. This is known as their annual postcensal estimates. A few days ago, the bureau’s July 1, 2013 population estimates were released. In this post, we will take a look at Denver’s and other Colorado counties’ population estimates. You can read last year’s post on this topic by clicking here.

For the fifth time in the past six years, Denver County has led the state in numeric population growth according to the US Census Bureau. The Census Bureau’s recently released 2013 population estimates show that Denver County (the City and County of Denver) had a population of 649,495 on July 1, 2013, an increase of 14,953 over their July 2012 estimate of 634,542. Denver’s 2010 Census population count was 600,158.

Here are two tables I’ve prepared showing the “Vintage 2013” postcensal estimates for the Top 10 Colorado counties in both numeric and percentage population gain between the 2012 and 2013 (click to embiggen):

2014-04-05_2012-2013-Top-10-Colorado-Counties-by-Numeric-Population-Change

2014-04-05_2012-2013-Top-10-Colorado-Counties-by-Percent-Population-Change

Next, let’s take a look at the Top 10 Colorado counties in both numeric and percentage population gain between the 2010 Census and the new July 2013 estimates:

2014-04-05_2010-2013-Top-10-Colorado-Counties-by-Numeric-Population-Change

2014-04-05_2010-2013-Top-10-Colorado-Counties-by-Percent-Population-Change

The Census Bureau’s July 2013 population estimate for Colorado was 5,268,367, an increase of 78,909 from the July 2012 estimate, and an increase of 239,171 from the state’s 2010 Census count of 5,029,196.


Gentrification in Denver

The concept of gentrification is relatively new in the urban planning lexicon only appearing in print in 1964 and generally defined as “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.” Whether or not a racial component of displacement is integral to this definition is still up for debate. With Spike Lee’s recent rant on this very subject as Brooklyn continues to gentrify, I decided to look at some Denver examples of gentrification to see how we compare.

The Whittier neighborhood, located north of 23rd Avenue and east of Downing (east of Five Points), has been closely associated with Denver’s black community since at least 1930. This was solidified by the 1950s as the so-called “color line” located near High Street in Whittier was broken as new housing opportunities were sought due to explosive growth in Denver’s black population following World War II. The white majorities along Race, Vine and Gaylord streets quickly vanished. A neighborhood that had once been nearly 100% white in 1890 had become 75% black by 1990. The process of this mid-century demographic shift has nearly been lost to history as the general perception has been that Five Points and Whittier have always been the heart of black culture in Denver. Whittier School did in fact become Denver’s first majority black school by the early 1930s as the population was increasingly segregated in this part of Denver especially following the Ku KIux Klan’s political grip on Denver and Colorado during the 1920s. But prior to this time, Denver’s black population was never large enough to dominate a majority of slots in any Denver school.

The Civil Rights Movement and fair housing laws eventually created more opportunities for housing choice, especially after 1970, and evidence of this is very apparent in Whittier. Between 2000 and 2010, there was a 43% drop in the black population of Whittier and an 89% increase in the white population (Whittier is coterminous with census tract 23). The neighborhood’s demographic breakdown now consists of a 29% black/42% white percentage, also indicating that there is a sizable Hispanic population in the area that was not in place in 1990 or 2000. Meanwhile, the black population has spread out into other areas of east Denver and into Aurora, no longer being forced into a few census tracts.

Whittier is not alone in this demographic shift that also coincides with a great influx of new residential construction (scrapes), home remodels and other major home improvements in most old Denver neighborhoods featuring historic homes with brick construction. We can quickly compare Whittier to Highland. I am referring only to the census tract located around 29th and Zuni, that includes “LoHi,” the area near Little Man Ice Cream. In 1990, this census tract (4.02) contained 5,986 people and was 65% Hispanic. Today (2010 census), the population stands at 5,314 people and is 35% Hispanic. Since 2000, the white population of the census tract has increased 32% and the Hispanic population has decreased 57%.

So ultimately I wonder if gentrification is only perceived as “bad” if it displaces minority residents. I know that for black homeowners in Whittier, many have suddenly lived the American Dream by selling their $39,000 home in 1989 dollars for $339,000 in 2014 dollars. While the faces in the neighborhood have changed, Whittier continues to be one of Denver’s most diverse areas. The influx of energy and money ensures that Denver’s central neighborhoods remain viable places to live over the long-term and are a welcome alternative when considering the urban decay and blight that a place such as Detroit is currently suffering. When you take any racial changes out of the equation however, gentrification’s foes are more quiet if we look at anecdotal evidence. One only needs to read the Denver Post over the past month about the booming Highlands neighborhood (west of Federal) pricing out even more people in the real estate market who are now looking at places such as Edgewater and Wheat Ridge where one can buy the same housing types as found in the 32nd and Lowell or 44th and Tennyson area for $100,000+ cheaper. These areas are being “rediscovered” and, although they have been historically “white” in character, they are no less deserving of the new investment.

Ultimately, cities are changing and dynamic places, if they are lucky. Otherwise, they can stagnate and decline. While it is painful sometimes to see places you grew up knowing in one capacity, there is a whole new generation of folks moving to Denver from across the country who have no preconceived notions of what an area is or is not supposed to be. So whether it’s Harvey Park in southwest Denver that has greatly increased its share of the Hispanic population (while it was nearly 100% white in 1960) or Whittier and Highland who have greatly increased their share of white population, the Denver area continues to grow and change—just as it has always done since 1858.


What are America’s densest neighborhoods?

Last week’s post about Colorado’s densest neighborhoods showed where density is clustered in Denver and other Front Range cities. Now let’s look at the densest spots in the core areas of other large cities around the US.

This post shows the census tract density of the central county (only) in each of America’s 20 largest Urban areas, in both 2000 and 2010. The list is in order of size, so New York is first, LA second, and Denver 18th.

Note that the scale on these maps is different than on the Colorado ones from last week, since the scale of density in cities nationwide is more broad than just within Colorado. All the maps in this thread do show the same scale compared to each other.

1. New York:
America’s biggest city breaks the scale. While others on this list might have a few neighborhoods in the top density category, which on these maps is 40,000 ppsm and higher, New York is covered end to end. It’s one of only 4 cities with any tracts above 100,000 ppsm. Its peak is 200,000 ppsm.
2000
2010
 
2. Los Angeles:
Despite its reputation for sprawl, LA compares favorably to the densest cities after New York. Its peak density of 94,000 ppsm is 4 times denser than Denver’s peak of 23,000 ppsm.
2000
2010
 
3. Chicago:
Home to probably the single-densest census tract in America, a 508,000 ppsm anomaly that’s just a single high rise, and is so small it’s not visible at normal scale. Besides that tract, Chicago tops around at about the same level as LA.
2000
2010
 
4. Miami:
Thanks to more narrowly-drawn census tracts along its high-rise coast, Miami’s peak density shot up from 38,000 ppsm in 2000 to 77,000 ppsm in 2010, but the actual change wasn’t as significant on the ground.
2000
2010
 
5. Philadelphia:
Philadelphia’s peak rose from 54,000 ppsm in 2000 to 64,000 in 2010.
2000
2010
 
6. Dallas:
Despite a lot of regional growth, Dallas’ density dropped significantly. It has fewer dense tracts in 2010 than in 2000, and its peak is down to 44,000 ppsm from 57,000 ppsm.
2000
2010
 
7. Houston:
Unlike Dallas, Houston appears to be densifying. Oddly, its densest area, with 55,000 ppsm, is not the core.
2000
2010
 
8. Washington (with Arlington & Alexandria):
Washington’s peak density increased from 57,000 ppsm to 66,000 ppsm. Note that this map includes 2 jurisdictions in addition to the central county, unlike all others on this list.
2000
2010
 
9. Atlanta:
Not only is Atlanta shockingly sparse, its densest tract fell from 41,000 ppsm in 2000 to just 21,000 ppsm in 2010. The explanation? A downtown public housing complex was demolished, erasing the population of the densest 2000 tract.
2000
2010
 
10. Boston:
One of only 4 cities with a tract above 100,000, Boston has a single tract that reaches 110,000 ppsm.
2000
2010
 
11. Detroit:
Detroit’s peak density of 18,000 ppsm is about the same as in 2000, but the number of mid-density tracts above 10,000 ppsm declined significantly as the city continued to empty.
2000
2010
 
12. Phoenix:
Phoenix tops out at 23,000 ppsm, the same as central Denver. But unlike Denver, Phoenix is strongly de-centralized. It has no visible downtown core, and its 23,000 ppsm tract is in the suburbs.
2000
2010
 
13. San Francisco:
San Francisco has more tracts above 100,000 ppsm than any city except New York. It tops out at 161,000 ppsm.
2000
2010
 
14. Seattle:
With a peak of 51,000 ppsm and a small but significant core, Seattle is smaller than the other big coastal cities on this list, but still strongly centralized and quite dense.
2000
2010
 
15. San Diego:
While downtown San Diego densified compared to 2000, and its 50,000 ppsm peak is higher, some of its other denser neighborhoods are sparser in 2010. The densest area is Mission Valley instead of the core.
2000
2010
 
16. Minneapolis:
Of all the cities on this list, Minneapolis looks the most similar to Denver. Its distinct core of moderate density neighborhoods topped out at 25,000 ppsm in both 2000 and 2010.
2000
2010
 
17. Tampa:
By far the sparsest city on this list, Tampa’s peak of 13,000 ppsm means it has no tracts in the 3rd or 4th categories, and precious few crack even into the 2nd. Boulder and Aurora are denser, Lakewood is about the same.
2000
2010
 
18. Denver:
Denver is like a hybrid of sparse sunbelt cities and dense coastal ones. Like coastal cities, Denver has a noticeable core of dense neighborhoods near downtown. But like the sunbelt ones, Denver’s densest spot is in a suburban area, a 31,000 ppsm tract in Glendale. Denver’s urban peak of 23,000 ppsm is slightly lower than it was in 2000, when Capitol Hill was 26,000 ppsm. The drop is most likely due to demographic changes, as more singles but fewer families live in the same places. Densities increased in downtown and LoDo, but not yet enough to be visible at this scale.
2000
2010
 
19. Baltimore:
Baltimore’s lone tract in the densest category is an impressive 86,000 ppsm, but that tract is down from a whopping 176,000 ppsm in 2000. Why such variation, and why 1 tract so much denser than all the others? That one extreme tract is a prison.
2000
2010
 
20. Saint Louis:
Saint Louis’ losses have been less drastic than Detroit’s, but they still hurt. Its peak is down to a Tampa-like 13,000 ppsm, from 15,000 ppsm in 2000.
2000
2010

Want to see more? You can make maps like these for any county in the United States, using census.gov. Here are instructions.