(Editor’s Note: This is part an occasional series that will seek insights about life in Lower Manhattan by looking at data available from the City’s Data2Go.NYC website. This installment focuses on statistics about age.)
Demographic information about age in any residential area is broken into zones called “census tracts,” established by the federal government for gathering population data. In Lower Manhattan, there are 12 such districts — excluding uninhabited areas, such as the Governors, Liberty, and Ellis Islands, and the Battery.
For the purposes of this review of Lower Manhattan’s population of young and old, let’s call these 12 districts (somewhat arbitrarily) by the following names: Battery Park City North and South; Tribeca West, East, and South; Fidi North, South, and East; the South Street Seaport; Southbridge; and the Civic Center West and East. (For precise borders of each district, please see the illustrations that accompany this story.)
The largest cohort in Lower Manhattan is what demographers call “Prime Age Adults,” meaning those aged 25 to 54 years. In most of Lower Manhattan’s 12 districts, they comprise an outright majority of the local population — peaking at 74.3 percent of the headcount in FiDi East. This category dips below 50 percent in only four districts: Tribeca West, Southbridge, the Civic Center East and the Civic Center West (where they bottom out at 35.7 percent of the tally). These numbers appear to reflect the influx of young professionals to Lower Manhattan in the years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Children and their families are also thriving Downtown, particularly in Battery Park City and Tribeca. In Battery Park City North, 27.2 households are home to married parents with children, while 15.2 percent of the population are under five years old, and 25.3 percent are under 18. In Battery Park City South, the same figures are 23.4 percent of all households, 7.4 percent (under 5), and 19.2 (under 18). In Tribeca, the household figures are 27.0 percent (South), 25.9 percent (East), and 20.0 percent (West). Children appear to be least prevalent in the Southbridge area, with just 6.8 percent of all households hosting married parents with children, while 2.7 percent of the population are younger than five years, and 6.7 percent are under 18.
These data likely result from the perception that Lower Manhattan offers families with children some of the best public schools in the City. Indeed, the spikes among percentages of households with children are clustered around highly regarded public elementary schools, such as P.S. 234 (Tribeca South), P.S. 89/I.S. 289 (Battery Park North) and P.S./I.S. 276 (Battery Park City South). While two other acclaimed schools (Peck Slip and the Spruce Street School) are located within the Southbridge neighborhood, they have opened more recently, which may indicate that the patterns of families migrating in search of high-quality public education have yet to catch up with these developments.
The elderly (meaning residents aged 65 or older) don’t break out of the single digits anywhere in Lower Manhattan, except for three districts: In Southbridge, they comprise 22.0 percent of the population; while in Tribeca West, seniors are 15.2 percent of the local tally; and they make up 22.2 percent in the Civic Center East. Battery Park City is more typical, with seniors representing 6.5 percent of the census in the North section, and 9.4 in the South. The City’s population figures indicate that seniors are especially rare in FiDi South, East and West (where they total 2.1 percent, 1.6 percent, and 0.0 percent, respectively).
Older residents appear to be concentrated in clusters around several publicly-sponsored housing developments that came online in the 1970s, such as Southbridge Towers (in the Southbridge district), Independence Plaza (in Tribeca West), Gateway Plaza (in Battery Park City South). In each of these large complexes, many hundreds of residents who moved in decades ago have aged in place in part because of affordability protections. But the dwindling number of seniors in Lower Manhattan may be a result of affordability measures being rolled back at each of these developments, forcing more and more of the elderly to leave Lower Manhattan.