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Chinese American Population in Harlem NYC Surges

The left map shows the results from the 2000 Census, the right map expresses data from 2010.  Notice the dark orange area (African Americans) becoming lighter as White and Asian residents move in.  Also take note of the growing pink area (Asian Americans) in New Jersey.

As you've probably heard, New York City officially has one million Asian American residents and accompanying this milestone are shifts in traditional neighborhoods with residents seeking cheaper rent, bigger houses or better schools.  The historic center of NYC’s Chinese population, Chinatown has experienced a 15-17 percent drop in its residents in the past ten years to 28,681 residents, undoubtedly due to rising costs and the gradual gentrification of lower Manhattan by upper middle class professionals seeking to live in the area.  According to Asian Americans for Equality, rent in Chinatown has spiked 30% from 2005 to 2009.  No doubt, this contributed to the explosion of Chinese Americans in Flushing, Queens (33,526) and in Sunset Park, Brooklyn (34,218).

Perhaps surprising though is the news that traditionally Black and Latino Harlem now have a number of Asian American residents with most areas experiencing growth upwards of 200%.  So says an article in today's NY Daily News (somewhat facetiously refering to the growth as a "Great Leap Foward" in its url). Granted during the 2000 census, East Harlem’s Asian Americans numbered a mere 520 and now stands at 1,766 residents.  Similarly, Central Harlem grew from 460 residents to 1,536.  This represents 3% of the population.  Should this rate of growth sustain itself, there will almost certainly be more and more Asian communities uptown.  The City University of New York’s Center for Urban Research mapped the 2010 census data that shows a declining plurality of African Americans in Harlem with all other ethnic groups making modest gains.  For what it’s worth, the map appears to show declining plurality for African Americans across the entire tri-state area.  Rising rents and a lack of affordable housing is no doubt to blame.  Still, the rents are still preferable for some families when compared to what they must pay downtown for rather cramped conditions.  On an unrelated note, take notice of the new Asian American neighborhoods across the Hudson in New Jersey as well as in South Brooklyn

As New York’s Asian American population grows, it will be interesting to see which areas of the city will experience the most growth by 2020.  The construction of luxury condominiums and rising rents has Chinese Americans leaving Chinatown for bigger houses and cheaper rent.  Flushing however, is also experiencing an appreciation in property values especially with the construction of luxury buildings and shopping malls as well as nearby spacious suburban homes that are in high demand among higher-income, young professionals with families.  One must wonder if new immigrants and lower class households can keep pace with the standard of living in these rapidly gentrifying areas.  I don’t think it will be a surprise in 2020 to see more Asian Americans living in Harlem and Brooklyn, attracted by lower rents and better living conditions.  After all, traditional Asian supermarkets, restaurants as well as professionals that speak their language are a short and convenient ride train ride away, eliminating the need for these establishments to be located in the neighborhood itself.





Consult CUNY's Urban Reseach Center at http://www.urbanresearch.org/news/ten-cities-census-change/?searchterm=asian

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