A new demographic report that parses all of New York City by its 50 wealthiest zip codes draws some surprising conclusions about Lower Manhattan. The first is that, for all its conspicuous affluence, the southern tip of New York County barely makes the Top Ten List, nor does it figure very prominently elsewhere in the Top Fifty rankings.
The report was compiled by the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), an international clearinghouse of geographic information databases, on behalf of the New York Business Journal. The criteria used by ESRI calculate local wealth based on a weighted blend of median annual household income and median net worth.
The first shock is that the most prosperous New Yorkers appear to live mostly in waterfront communities in Queens (Little Neck, Breezy Point) and Staten Island (Annadale). Manhattan doesn’t appear on ESRI’s list until after the two Queens neighborhoods, where Midtown East takes the No. 3 spot. It is followed by two zip codes on the Upper East Side and one on the Upper West Side.
Not until the last rung of the Top Ten list does Lower Manhattan appear, and then with a surprising entrant: southern Battery Park City (zip: 10280), where the median annual household income is $158,879, and the median net worth is $261,371. Southern Tribeca (zip: 10007) is the only Downtown neighborhood ranked between 10 and 20, with median annual household income of $185,082, and median net worth is $212,805. Northern Battery Park City (zip: 10282) and western Tribeca (zip: 10013) both show up on the list’s third tier, between places 20 and 30. The former has median annual household income of $200,001, and median net worth is $185,761. The latter boasts a median annual household income of $86,017, and median net worth is $53,292. Elsewhere in Lower Manhattan, none of the zip codes that comprise the Financial District, the South Street Seaport, and the Civic Center appear anywhere in ESRI’s top fifty rankings.
In this context, it is worth noting that ESRI’s methodology uses median figures (meaning the midpoint between the highest and lowest values), rather than mean calculations (meaning averages). This is telling, because just a handful of individuals with personal incomes in excess of $10 million per year (as is the case in Battery Park City and Tribeca) can throw off the mean figures for an entire zip code, but such anomalies exert less disruptive influence on median figures.
Perhaps more interesting than the rankings are the labels assigned to various Lower Manhattan neighborhoods. ESRI’s Tapestry system, which sorts all American demographic groups and communities into 67 cultural paradigms, with names such as “Laptops and Lattes,” which the company describes as, “affluent, well-educated singles and partner couples who love life in the big city and hold professional positions in business, finance, legal, computer, and entertainment,” and adds (using a hypothetical collective voice to represent the group), “most of us don’t own a home or a vehicle; we rent apartments close to amenities, and either work from home or walk, bike, and take public transportation to get around.” Of ESRI’s 67 Tapestry labels, five appear Downtown: In addition to “Laptops and Lattes,” Lower Manhattan is home to “Trendsetters,” “High-Rise Renters,” “Metro Renters,” and members of the “Downtown Melting Pot.”
The most prevalent group appears to be “Laptops and Lattes,” which (in ESRI’s estimation) comprises 100 percent of the population of Battery Park City and southern Tribeca. Slightly more diverse is northern Tribeca, where 39 percent of population is “Laptops and Lattes,” but 23 percent is part of the “Downtown Melting Pot” and 15 percent are “Trendsetters.” ESRI describes the former group as, “married couple families located… in small, settled, densely populated neighborhoods,” which are, “a rich blend of races and ethnicities; Asians, particularly Chinese, are concentrated here.” The company characterizes “Trendsetters,” as “young, educated singles with good jobs who spend our disposable income on upscale city living and entertainment — mostly on rent,” adding that they, “shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s for quick, organic meals.”
The eastern and western areas of the Financial District (zip codes 10005 and 10006, respectively) are reckoned to be 100 percent “Metro Renters,” about whom the company says, “young, mobile, educated, or still in school, we live alone or with a roommate in rented apartments or condos in the center of the city.” In the southern Financial District (zip: 10004), the balance tips slightly, to 84 percent “Metro Renters” and 16 percent “Laptops and Lattes.”
In the Seaport and Civic Center neighborhoods (zip: 10038), the mix changes to 34 percent “Laptops and Lattes,” 26 percent “Metro Renters,” and 19 percent “High-Rise Renters,” a group ESRI has saying of itself, “you’ll find us in the Northeast, especially in New York City. Our neighborhoods are diverse, densely populated, with a lot of adult children and language isolation. Many of us are foreign born. We’re young and struggling to make ends meet.”