Then as Now — New York’s Shifting Ethnic Mosaic

Tracking the changing makeup of the city.
2010 New York City ethnic neighborhood map
Published: January 21, 2011 -->

A century ago, Israel Zangwill popularized the term in his play, “The Melting Pot.” New York has evolved into a greater crucible of race and ethnicity today than it was back then, but the city also remains very much a mosaic — a variegated montage of neighborhoods in which certain groups predominate.

In a month or so, the 2010 census will most likely confirm a record high in the city’s foreign-born population. American Community Survey data released last month revealed a striking metamorphosis during the last decade. Traditional ethnic enclaves sprawled amoeba-like into adjacent communities. Once monolithic tracts of white and black and native-born residents have become bespeckled with newcomers.

Population Change in New York City Neighborhoods Since 2000

New York City map showing change in native whites from 2000 to 2010

One of the principal demographic trends of recent years, U.S.-born whites moving into cities, is apparent in Manhattan and northern Brooklyn. White populations are declining in northeast Queens, where immigrant populations are increasing, and parts of Staten Island, which are attracting more blacks.

Native Whites
New York City map showing change in native whites from 2000 to 2010

Black populations are declining in some traditionally black areas; in central Brooklyn and Harlem, where whites are moving in, but also in southeast Queens, which black families may be leaving for the suburbs. In Canarsie, the U.S.-born black population has grown 20 percent. In nearby Brownsville, it is down nine percent.

Native Blacks
New York City map showing change in native whites from 2000 to 2010

Chinese immigrants are declining in Lower Manhattan, and yielding to Indian and Bangladeshi growth in Jackson Heights and Woodside. But their numbers are rapidly growing in Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Sunset Park and Bensonhurst.

East Asians