New New York

Some months ago, I was talking to a fellow five boroughs expatriate about how Washington feels more like home in large part because, having been here during a formative period for ourselves and for the city, we “own the changes.” Large swathes of the District look very different now relative to the fall of 2001, when I first landed here. In contrast, friends of mine from the South and the West and the Midwest who settled in New York around the same time own the changes that have happened there. Though I’m in Brooklyn and New York quite a lot, I often feel a little displaced. And now we have detailed demographic data that reflect the sea change, artfully summarized by Sam Roberts in the Times.

A lengthy stream of stray thoughts follows.

Since 2000, the number of young children living in parts of Lower Manhattan has nearly doubled. The poverty rate declined in all but one New York City neighborhood. A majority of Bronx residents are Hispanic.

Is a declining poverty rate an obviously good sign? Glaeser has noted that high poverty rates in cities generally reflect the fact that cities are magnets for the poor because they provide economic opportunities. Some of the very poor in the region have been shifted to inner suburbs. Not sure that this is a win.

Re: Lower Manhattan: ultra-affluent kids, and we’re starting from a very low base.

The survey estimated that the number of children under 5 in Manhattan increased, the result largely of white people moving into the city or staying to raise families, demographers said. In an area of downtown including portions of Battery Park City, TriBeCa and SoHo, the number of children rose to about 8,000 from about 4,000.

But Mr. Salvo cautioned that the census estimates may have overstated the increase, saying school enrollment and other data do not entirely bear it out. Outside of Manhattan, the number of school-age children has declined, in part because of Hispanic families moving to the suburbs.

Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin has the highest number of kids per household, apparently, which is not an encouraging sign re: Germany’s demographic future. As for Latino families moving to the suburbs, this seems like good news. Yet it also suggests that we need to change the mix of services offered in the inner suburbs.

In almost every category, the results demonstrated the city’s diversity and dynamism. In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, for example, the proportion of residents who do not speak English at home declined by more than 17 percent — an indication of gentrification in a heavily Hispanic and Asian area. But on the southern part of Staten Island, the share rose by 26 percent because of an influx of Chinese and Spanish speakers. (The area already had a significant number of Italian and Russian speakers.)

Sunset Park is one of my favorite Brooklyn neighborhoods, and it has excellent transit access, particularly around 36th Street. This is the neighborhood I would invest in if I were a shrewd shark.

Since 2000, the Dominican Republic, China and Mexico have sent the most people to New York: 81,000, 77,000 and 69,000. There were also large influxes of immigrants from Bangladesh and Pakistan, and from Ghana and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. (First- and second-generation Africans and Caribbean immigrants now account for about 4 in 10 of the city’s black residents.)

I’m very interested in this last part — New York is, once again, prefiguring a broader national shift. What happens in 2050, when a large slice of the country’s black population will be of immigrant origin? Also, are these networked diasporas that will plug us into the more flourishing Africa of the future? Kind of an encouraging idea for the country’s economy and for our cultural politics. Of course, this also shapes the debate over racial preferences, historical injustice, etc., in complicated and not always salutary ways.

In Fort Greene, Brooklyn, households headed by women declined by 21 percent. In the Rockaways, they rose by 17 percent.

Fort Greene is a key front in the transformation of brownstone Brooklyn. I lived there briefly in late 2003, and the changes have been dramatic — there is a conspicuous affluence that has changed even the physical look of the place. The Rockaways, in contrast, reflect the broader changes shaping working class and lower middle class neighborhoods across the country — they are increasingly resembling the inner city of our imagination.