Resource: DCP’s Census Fact Finder

Map of Brooklyn Census Tract 520 returned by the DCP Census Tract Finder when searching on the Q Train Cortelyou Road Station.
Brooklyn Census Tract 520

At last night’s Workshop #2 of Imagine Flatbush 2030, they had something new: a brief slide show of orientation information, similar in content to that presented at the first workshop, plus some census data about the study area. You can see some photos of these by Frank Jump, who attended last night’s workshop and happened to be in my breakout group, on his blog, Fading Ad Blog.

I just discovered that the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) provides online access to census data in their Census Fact Finder. The finder is tabbed to provide searches by:

  • Street address
  • Community District
  • Point of Interest (not enough “points” to be widely useful)
  • Subway station

Except for Community District, once you’ve identified a point, you can view census data by a single Census Tract, by neighboring Census tracts within a .1 to .5 miles range you specify, or by Community District.

At the top of the resulting report is a map showing the point or area you selected and the matching census tracts. A pink dot identifies the focus, the selected tracts are highlighted in blue, and all visible tracts are numbered. Associated with the map are the usual zoom and navigation tools. It also provides tools to select or exclude additional census tracts.

For example, the map at the top of this post is returned when selecting the Q Train Cortelyou Road Station as the focus of the map. The finder returned Census Tract 520, which news reports in 2005 highlighted as the most diverse Census Tract in the entire United States:

In 1970, Census Tract 520 in Ditmas Park [sic] was 92.1% white. Less than a quarter of the population was foreign-born, and most of them were Italian and Jewish. Today, the neighborhood is a miniature United Nations, with nearly two-thirds of the population coming from other countries.

Although Elmhurst and Jackson Heights have a larger percentage of foreign-born residents, the city’s demographer, Joseph Salvo, said it’s the convergence of racial and ethnic diversity that distinguishes Ditmas Park.
In a Diverse City, Ditmas Park Takes the Cake, New York Sun, May 26, 2005

Note, however, that Census Tract 520 is not in the historic district of Ditmas Park. It comprises the eastern half of Ditmas Park West, my neighborhood neighbor to the south, plus the blocks between Newkirk and Foster Avenues.

Below the map in the report is a table showing all the census data, aggregated for the selected census tracts. The table is tabbed for the major categories of data available:

  • Demographic
  • Socio-economic
  • Age
  • Income in 1999
  • Labor
  • Education
  • Housing Characteristics
  • Housing Costs

For example, to examine the claim that this tract is the most diverse, let’s look at the demographic data:

Demographic Profile Tract(s) Brooklyn New York City
Total Population 4,399 2,465,326 8,008,278
Single Race, Nonhispanic: (by percentage)
White 19.3% 34.7% 35.0%
Black / African American 29.2% 34.4% 24.5%
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.3% 0.2% 0.2%
Asian 22.4% 7.5% 9.7%
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander 0% 0% 0.0%
Some other Race 1.3% 0.7% 0.7%
Two or More Races, Nonhispanic 7.8% 2.8% 2.8%
Hispanic Origin (of any race) 19.8% 19.8% 27.0%

The “most diverse” claim arises from the observation that the demographic category comprising the largest single group, Black / African American, only comprises 29.2% of the population. Across the city as a whole, there is diversity. Queens has the largest percentage of foreign-born residents of all five boroughs. But when you get down to the level of a few blocks, what you usually see is a predominant group.

At last night’s workshop, at each breakout group, the facilitators asked each of us to briefly identify our main concern, our main wish or goal for Flatbush in the years to come. By the time it got around to me, I’d had time to practice in my mind what I wanted to say, and wrote it down in my notebook:

Diversity Without Disparity

And I explained that I mean this “in every way I can think of.” This captures the asset of diversity we enjoy today, one which I think most of those who’ve participated in the workshops so far value as well. It also presents the challenge: how can we mitigate existing disparities, and keep the gap from widening. How can we avoid becoming the victims of our own success as a vibrant, interesting, developing community?

Related Posts

Imagine Flatbush 2030


Imagine Flatbush 2030 (Sponsored by the Municipal Art Society of NY) – Workshop #2, Brooklyn College, Frank Jump, Fading Ad Blog
Over 100 People Imagining Flatbush 2030, Brooklyn Junction
In a Diverse City, Ditmas Park Takes the Cake, Daniela Gerson, The New York Sun, May 26, 2005

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