Prisoner of Atlantic Avenue

The densest census tract in the country is located in West Harlem, where a 1,190-unit former Mitchell-Lama building stands surrounded by numerous tenements (below). The two-block area has, according to the 2000 Census, a density equivalent to 229,713 inhabitants per square mile.

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3333 Broadway, between 133rd and 135th Sts., as seen from Google Earth

Sounds positively suburban next to the density envisioned by Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn (below): between 436,363 and 523,636 inhabitants per square mile (based on estimated population of between 15,000 and 18,000 residents over 22 acres). That is the density for the whole footprint, including the open space, the arena, and the office towers.

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More Manhattan than Manhattan: Frank Gehry’s Atlantic Yards


Jim Stuckey, Forest City Ratner’s project manager for Atlantic Yards, said this morning (after the release of the draft environmental impact statement) that many areas of the city have the same zoning designation that Atlantic Yards would. True, but those areas are just narrow strips of intense zoning that apply to the lots lining major thoroughfares such as York Avenue and West End Avenue, while the side streets of the Upper East and West Sides are dappled with charming brownstones.

Imagine that high rise from “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” being replicated, side by side, front to back, for seven city blocks, with only a few narrow streets in between.

Will Forest City get its target $800 a square foot for market-rate condos amidst such density? Let’s hope they did their market research.

For comparison purposes, here are the other densest census tracts in the country, compiled by The Real Estate from Census 2000 data. They are all in New York City.

2. Bronx: E. Kingsbridge & 198th St. b/w Valentine & Grand Concourse: 212,000 inhabitants/square mile
3. Washington Heights: 173rd and 180th Streets b/w St. Nicholas & Amsterdam: 210,628
4. Queens: LeFrak City: 201,878
5. Yorkville: 86th & 89th Sts. b/w 1st & 3rd Aves.: 199,444
6. Washington Heights: 158th & 165th Sts. b/w St. Nick & Ft. Washington: 193,382
7. Yorkville: 89th & 94th b/w 1st & 3rd Aves. (incl. Ruppert Towers): 191,747
8. Washington Heights: 169th & 173 Sts. b/w Amsterdam & Ft. Washington.: 191,199
9. Yorkville: 94th & 96th Sts. b/w 1st & 3rd Aves.: 189,172
10. Upper East Side: 69th & 74th Sts. b/w 1st & 3rd Aves.: 186,884

-Matthew Schuerman