Profile Of A Gentrivolution

I moved to the city of Hoboken, NJ (a Manhattan bedroom community) from the big city a few months ago. It’s tiny at just a bit more than a square mile, bordered by waterways on the North, South and East and a big honking cliff to the West.

It’s much more distinct from the local social and urban geography than the map below suggests and it’s one of the most densely populated municipalities in the US.

It’s also a town whose socioeconomic makeup has changed radically since the 90s. Consider some stats:

2000 2010*
Population 38,577 50,005
Median Age 30.4 31.2
Median Household Income 62,550 101,782
Median Income Males Only 54,870 90,878
Elementary School Enrollment 1,781 2,156
Bachelor Degree or Higher 59.4% 71.6%
Currently Married 31.1% 32.5%

*The population is a 2010 figure and the rest are 2006-2010 averages. Here is a link to the 2000 data. Here is the 2006-2010 American Survey data. Here is Wikipedia.

In the early 90s, Hoboken boasted two communities: students (of the local Stevens Institute of Technology) and recent graduates fueled a big drinking scene while a ‘townie’ population of mostly blue collar workers and residents of a ‘projects’ in the bottom corner of the town were holdovers from the town’s industrial roots. It’s got Northeast college town written all over it to this day.

But the table above shows where things are heading. High-income, educated families with good jobs in the city, young children and stable marriages are filling the new ‘luxury condominium’ developments going up everywhere.

What’s interesting about this is that the boom has been projected many, many times in the past. During the West Village and Brooklyn renaissance of the 80s and 90s everyone was ready for the gentry to cross the Hudson. It’s been such a ‘sure thing’ that when it came the boom has been a horribly disappointing overdevelopment. Building projects abandoned (expecting a far larger boom), developers going bust, retail locations empty.

I’m sure the coincidence with the nation-wide housing bubble didn’t help. A lot of people in the area have lost a lot of money on housing developments. This is one town, though, where the units will eventually be filled.

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