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Los Angeles's Sprawl is Denser Than New York's Sprawl

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The US Census Bureau has come out with a new report "providing detailed estimates of different types of density for America's metros," including "population-weighted density" (based on the average densities of each census tract) and density by distance from a city center. The USCB came out with average density rankings earlier this year--Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim took the top spot with nearly 7,000 people per square mile. Choke on your "sprawl" epithets, New Yorkers! But the population-weighted numbers reveal slightly different (and maybe more intuitive) results, although the distance from city hall thing starts getting interesting--15 miles out from city hall, Los Angeles is denser than New York.

Over at The Atlantic Cities, urbanist Richard Florida takes a look: "New York and Los Angeles are good examples of the differences between these two density measures. While they are close in the average density — 2,826 for New York versus 2,646 for L.A. — the New York metro has much higher levels of concentrated or population-weighted density, 31,251 versus 12,114 people per square mile. San Francisco, which has lower average density than L.A. (1,755 people per square mile), tops L.A. on population-weighted density with 12,145 people per square mile." Still, LA ranks third among US cities (followed by Chicago).

But in terms of distance from the city center, there's a bit of a changeup: "New York's population-weighted density is much higher than L.A.'s in close proximity to city hall, roughly 80,000 people per square mile compared to between 20,000 or 30,000 for L.A., but it dips substantially about 15 miles out from the city center, falling beneath that of L.A." That sort of turns the sprawl thing on its head--a lot of people in LA may live far from the Civic Center, but they do so at pretty high density levels.
· America's Truly Densest Metros [The Atlantic Cities]
· Los Angeles is the Most Densely Populated Urban Area in the US [Curbed LA]