One Family Homes To Solve New York’s Congestion

The article begins with the proclamation that “a prominent engineer and statistician recently estimated that by the year 1950 New York City’s population would exceed 19,000,000!”

It goes on to explain that businesses will displace residences in Manhattan, which will see a population decrease, but Queens and Brooklyn will blow up to 6,000,000 and 7,000,000 residents respectively. “How closely these figures will come to being correct only time will show, but the indications are that the estimate will not prove wild.”

Well, let’s see what time does show.

According to historic census data, the population of New York City in 1910 when this article was written was 4,766,883. Approximately half those people lived in Manhattan.

In 1950, the population of New York City was not 19 million, but 7,891,957. So that estimate was way off. But the projection that other boroughs would gain more residents than Manhattan was correct. In 1950, Brooklyn had almost a million more residents than Manhattan. And both Queens and The Bronx were quickly catching up.

Today, both Brooklyn and Queens have higher populations than Manhattan. The Bronx is not far behind. But the city’s entire population is still nowhere near 19 million. Growth has slowed down considerably, and in 2008 there were 8,363,710 people living in New York City.

ONE FAMILY HOMES TO SOLVE NEW YORK’S CONGESTION: Committee Seeking to Relieve Overcrowding Lays Plans Against Estimated Population of 19,000,000 in 1950 — Individual Homes the Keynote (PDF)

From May 29, 1910

2 responses to “One Family Homes To Solve New York’s Congestion”

  1. Did that article include the massive increases in the cost of living and the growth of the Long Island/NJ burbs?


  2. Indeed, without the automobile to facilitate the suburbanization of Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut, New York’s population might have come much closer to this estimate. The more interesting angle, however, is the notion that spreading out development will ease congestion. It is certainly true that rural areas generally have low levels of congestion and dense cities have high levels of congestion. However, what was not known in 1910 but is beginning to become apparent today, is that suburban areas of intermediate density can suffer from congestion worse than denser cities. Cities create opportunities for walking, biking or using transit to get from one destination to another. Grid systems of streets allow autos to bypass congested blocks or intersections. However, in some suburbs, an automobile trip is the only option for every trip. Autos take up lots of space when parked and even more space when they are in motion (due to the safety buffer in front and behind).


Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: