On Cities, specifically mine (Or, I should probably go back to grad school)

Yesterday, I went on a great walk around the city with two of my oldest friends. We walked from my apartment in Nob Hill, through Chinatown, through the Financial District, along the Embarcadero & Fisherman’s Wharf, and then to dinner in the Marina (about 6 miles or so, yesterday was a 19k step day!). It felt like every 5 blocks or so, we were surrounded by an entirely different culture. So, halfway prompted by a discussion about the changing demographics of the city and halfway prompted by my weird obsession with census data, I decided to figure out who my neighbors are.

My apartment is technically in Nob Hill, but it doesn’t feel like the stereotypical Nob Hill. According to trusty Wikipedia, Nob Hill became a wealthy and exclusive section of the city because of it’s central location and great views (more history of the hood and the entire city can be found in this book, an excellent read if you like local history). Even though the enclave of the rich and famous was destroyed by the earthquake in 1906 and most of its inhabitants decamped to Pac Heights, it continued to be an affluent area of the city and still has that reputation today. That said, I have yet to see anyone walking around with a monacle and fur coat (though, it would be pretty ballsy to wear a furcoat in this city).

Instead, my neighborhood feels like a mix of young people of diverse backgrounds, multigenerational Chinese families, and older White people who have lived here (and in their rent controlled apartments) forever. Is my feeling correct though? Or am I totally off the mark? I decided to research this, starting at the New York Times project that mapped the data from the 2010 census. Be forewarned, that clicking on that link will take you to the most amazing time suck ever. I found that I live in census tract 11 (who knew? Where’s the pride for tract 11?); which as of 2011, had a negative population growth of 4.2%. Given how much I pay for my apartment now, I think that trusty tract 11 has recouped that population loss quite a bit. Tract 11 is quite dense, 4,827 people lived in 4 square blocks; which explains why parking is such a bitch here. It’s 44% white and 46% Asian; all other ethnicities are under 5%. This info echoes my experience.

To find out more comprehensive data, I had to zoom out quite a bit from tract 11 to my ZIP code which was unfortunate. I found that no age group was the majority, and instead found that people ages 25-34 held a plurality, 29%. Of note, people under 19 only make up 7.6% of the population (I’ll save my musings on kids in SF for another day, this post is getting long). The next closest age group is those between 25 and 44, the median age is 37. 

I’m now realizing that this mini project that I’ve created for myself on a Sunday afternoon is probably incredibly boring to everyone that’s reading this, so I’ll wrap it up. In short, my neighbors are probably White or Asian, don’t have kids, and weren’t alive when Rocky or Taxi Driver came out. The more you know.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s