New York Buildings By The Numbers

by Don Friedman on August 5, 2016

By Anthony Quintano from Hillsborough, NJ, United States [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons By Anthony Quintano from Hillsborough, NJ, United States [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

While searching for some random information, I came across this report that has detailed statistics on the built environment of New York City in 2014. A few thoughts:

  • There are over a million buildable lots in the city and 27,000 are vacant. At 97 percent built, it’s not a big surprise that the vast majority of building permits are for alterations, not new buildings, and it’s not a big surprise that most new buildings are redevelopments that include demolition of existing structures. Anecdotally, I remember vacant lots in central Flushing when I was a kid, but they’re all built up now.
  • There are just under 3 million housing units for a population of just under 8 and a half million, or a gross density of around 2.9 people per unit. (I’m doing a lot of rounding in this discussion, so look at the report for more detail.) The density per unit is almost certainly higher in the single-family home category (with over 300,000 units) than in the multiple-dwellings.
  • There are over 300,000 single-family houses in the city, which certainly runs against the stereotype. Most are in the outer portion of the city – Staten Island, eastern Queens, southern Brooklyn, northern and eastern Bronx – but there are, of course, single-family brownstones in Manhattan. If we use the 2.9 people per unit average (which is not statistically correct but good enough for an order-of-magnitude number), we get something like 900,000 people living in single-family houses, or over ten percent of the city’s population.
  • There are fewer than 10,000 office buildings in the city, most of which are utterly boring low-rises in the outer boroughs, since the Manhattan number is fewer than 4000. So the iconic New York skyscrapers are less than half of one percent of the total buildings.
  • The market value of all of the real estate in the city was 850 billion dollars. In the two years since this report came out, it’s passed a trillion dollars. The assessed value was only 190 billion dollars, which shows the level of demand.

I could keep going, but there’s an endless amount of mining to be done here. In short, I’m not worried about running out of old buildings to work on.


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