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Collegetown Is Upstate's Densest Neighborhood

Brian over at Ithacating in Cornell Heights has done an excellent job of summarizing the results of Census 2010: Tompkins County population is up by 5 percent, while the City of Ithaca increased a bit and now is a larger city than Elmira. Meanwhile most other Upstate metros grew in the 1-4 percent range, save for my own Buffalo Niagara region, which has continued to lose population with its fellow rust belt brethren of Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

The New York Times has put together a handy interactive map that actually allows all sorts of detailed statistics by census tract, and it's interesting to drill into the Ithaca data by neighborhood. We see that the area commonly referred to as Collegetown, bordered by the Commons to the west, Delaware Avenue to the east, State Street to the south, and Cascadilla Gorge to the north, boasted 5600 residents in 2010, a 22 percent increase (or ~1000 additional residents) since 2000. No doubt most of the residents have been added in the increasingly dense apartment buildings being built between Dryden, College, and Eddy.

What's more, the Times data shows that the population density for the Collegetown census tract is actually 33,000 residents per square mile, a density that far surpasses any other Upstate urbanized areas. For comparison, Albany's Lark Street neighborhood and Buffalo's Elmwood Village (the other two most urbanized, walkable neighborhoods in Upstate New York) feature a density typically in the 15 to 20,000 residents per square mile range. And no doubt there is a lot more disposable income in Collegetown than in those poorer areas of Upstate.

How does Collegetown compare to other college neighborhoods across the country? The Central Square area of Cambridge, smack between Harvard and MIT, averages around 35,000 residents per square mile, while the areas around Berkeley's and UW-Madisons's campuses feature 50,000 residents per square mile. Of course, none of these areas can hold a candle to Columbia's Morningside Heights, which boasts a density of over 100,000 per square mile, over a much larger footprint.

Not all square miles are created equal, however, and any Cornellian can attest to the fact that a walk up Ithaca's East Hill to campus is a mile unlike any other, which unfortunately makes the land just off of campus on College Ave. all that much more valuable. That's why we've continued to see development cluster around the intersection of Dryden and and College Ave. In fact, MetaEzra has started to hear rumors that the historic Collegetown Bagel's patio location is now being considered for an expanded apartment building.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on March 28, 2011 (#)

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