Population Density


The entire US population, if living at the density of Brooklyn Ny (35k people/sqmi), would need only the area of New Hampshire to fit. Ryan Advent adds that the whole global population, living at the density of Brooklyn, would be able to fit within the borders of Texas. And if we were willing to get things as tight as Manhattan, the land area of Virginia would serve us just fine.

Does not require all-SkyScraper environment. Julie Campoli and Alex MacLean’s book Visualizing Density vividly illustrates that we can achieve tremendous density without high-rises. They point out that before elevators were invented, two- to four- story “walk-ups” were common in cities and towns throughout America. Constructing a block of these type of buildings could achieve a density of anywhere from 20 to 80 units an acre. Mid-rise buildings ranging from 5 to 12 stories can create even higher density neighborhoods in urban settings, where buildings cover most of the block. Campoli and MacLean point to Seattle where mid-rise buildings achieve densities ranging from 50 to 100 units per acre, extraordinarily high by U.S. standards.

see 15-Minute City

see Traditional City

  • Nathan Lewis says: Using the 100,000 people per square mile of some of Paris' residential districts (in the Traditional City style of buildings generally no higher than six stories)....


FiveThirtyEight looked at decided, based on surveys, that a ZipCode/ZCTA density of 2.2k households/sqmi (if avg 2.5 ppl/hh then that's 5.5k people/sqmi) qualified as "urban". (And looked at what portion of various cities are urban.)

SplitWise provides a nice spreadsheet. 33,144 zips covering 308.4M people. 298 zips with 0 people!

  • I sorted by density:
    • the 1st 2 are tiny pieces of WashingtonDC, with less than 1k ppl each.
    • if I used 5500 ppl/sqmi as "urban" (per 538 above), that would be 1634 zips (5%) covering 49.6M (16% of population)
    • if I used 246.72M (80%) as the population cut-off, it would need 13,242 zips (40%).
  • I sorted by population:
    • if I use 246.72 (80%) as the population cut-off, it would need 8759 zips (26%). The population of the zip at the margin is 11,581
  • if I combine threshholds and look at zips with pop>11,581 and density>5500, there are 1302 zips (4%), covering 48.1M (15%)

Or is gross City Size more important? 2007-04-18-UrbanGrowthBenefits

This graph is pretty cool, shows many cities around the world as density vs transportation-cost-per-capita (with size of dot representing CitySize.

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