From Morrisania to Williamsburg, How the City Has Changed in 70 Years

December 17, 2012 | The University

By SAM ROBERTS

June 4, 2012

“New York is a city of contrasts,” the analysis began. “An amazing, infinite, inspiring, shocking, beautiful, ugly, old, new city of seven million plus.” Seven decades later, it still is. The same adjectives apply, but the city is even bigger: The population has grown to a record 8.3 million.

That description of the city came from a market analysis produced by The New York Times and several other newspapers, aimed at advertisers. It was drawn from the 1940 census.

That census captured a city ravaged by the Great Depression. Incomes were lower than in 1930. New apartment buildings in Forest Hills, Queens, and Parkchester, the Bronx, remained vacant.

The market analysis explored 116 neighborhoods and concluded that no section was all rich or all poor, explaining, for example, that a three-room apartment on the Lower East Side that rented for $12 a month was only a few miles from a 33-room apartment on Sutton Place that rented for $18,000 a year.

Now, The Times has compared the statistics and photographs from sample neighborhoods as they appeared in 1940 and today. The City University of New York Mapping Service at the Center for Urban Research has republished the entire 1940s analysis online as a research aid.

“The changes are amazing, though not surprising,” said Steven Romalewski, director of the mapping service. “It reflects the substantial loss of population for these communities over all — ‘inner city’ post-war depopulation — but also the striking transformation from overwhelmingly white neighborhoods to a much more mixed population.”

Originally published by The New York Times