Welcome to the New York Public Library!

WaHI has it's own branch of the NYC public library system located at 160th street and St. Nicholas Avenue. Here we will learn about WaHI demographics unrelated to health. It's helpful moving forward to know what the borders of WaHi are. Washington Heights stretches from 155th street north to 200 St (Dyckman St.). North of 200th street (also known as Dyckman) to the tip of Manhattan is considered Inwood. Both neighborhoods are boarded on the east by the Harlem river and the Hudson river on the West.

I. Age and Sex

WaHI has age and sex demographics similar to those of New York City in general. According to 2010 census data, about 22% of the population is below age 18 and about 12% are 65 or older. Females make up about 52% of the population. (24)

II. Race and Ethnicity Data

As a result of changing immigration patterns over the last 20 years, WaHi has become a predominantly Latino community including Puerto Rican, Cuban, Mexican, and Dominican immigrants. Of these, Dominicans have made up the majority of the Latino WaHi community for the majority of the last 20 years. However, most recent Census data from 2010 show a decrease in the Dominican population, from 73% in 2005 to 66% of WaHi Latinos (24, 4)
Slide 2.png

From looking at the above graph, other important patterns are appreciated. The Mexican immigrant population in WaHi has increased 92% over the last decade (3,861 in 2000 to 7,423 in 2010). Although this increase still puts them substantially behind the Dominican population, it is projected that if this growth continues it may represent a cultural change on our neighborhood and our medical center.(14)

The 2010 Census also showed an increase in Non-Hispanic Whites from 13% of the population to almost 18%. When taken with the decrease in the Dominican, and overall minority, population, this could point to evidence of continuing gentrification in WaHI. Because of the rise housing values in New York City, there has been an increase in people of all ethnic backgrounds migrating into neighborhoods with lower property values and socioeconomic status-referred to as gentrification. There is a debate in the community and among urban development scholars as to whether gentrification displaces poorer existing residents or helps them by bringing better security, diminish crime rates, and enhanced employment opportunities. While the majority of the literature regarding the gentrification of Upper Manhattan describes gentrification as merely beginning in WaHi, with the new 2010 census data it has become clear that this process is well underway. Whether this influx of people is acting to displace current residents by driving up real estate prices remains to be seen.(4, 24)

III. Household Income/Poverty rate

The median household income has increased substantially since 1990 from $25,271 to $37,802 in 2009. When looked at a bit closer, Non-Hispanic Whites and Asians appear to have the highest median income in the community. This became more apparent after the 2000 census. Since 2010 income data for the neighborhood is still being determined for neighborhood values it is unclear if the median income has increased. However, with race profiles showing an increase in Non-Hispanic White residents, likely in response to higher real estate prices elsewhere in the city, the medial income will probably show a reciprocal increase.(4, 36)

While the median income of the area has increased, it is important to note that this household income was still far below the average household income in New York City, $50,033. In 2009, 31% of WaHI residents lived below poverty level compared to 21% in the rest of New York City. With an average household size between 3 and 4, this means that 31% of residents had household incomes below $18,310 (federal poverty level for household of 3) and $22,050 (federal poverty level for household of 4). The poverty rate in New York City has only grown since 2009, with the wealthiest New Yorkers making up to 40 times as much as the lowest fifth. To put this in perspective, this gap is comparable to those found in Namibia and Sierra Leon. (36, 32)

IV. Crime

One concern that you may have moving to WaHI for medical school is your safety. After all, this is an urban community with a crime heavy past. The stigma that WaHI carries of being an unsafe neighborhood stems from the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980's. In the 80's and 90's WaHI was a large distribution center for crack cocaine in the northeast and violent crime was also very high largely due to the concentration of drug trafficking. This reached a peak in the early 90's and to address this a new precinct, the 34th, was created in 1994 adding many new officers to the streets. There were efforts made by not only the police but also law abiding residents and large institutions, Columbia University and New York Presbyterian Hospital included, to better the neighborhood. Now, WaHI is a very different place. In 2011 WaHI was found to be the third safest neighborhood in Manhattan. Greenwich village ranked 68th (that is out of 69 neighborhoods). (12, 35)

Next Stop: WaHI health indicators