Friday, July 10, 2009

Big Brooklyn

I just happened upon a story from January on the National Public Radio site about the perfume company Bond No. 9's fragrance, Brooklyn:
"Now you can get a whiff of Brooklyn — and we're not talking the smell of stale subway. A new perfume bears the name of New York City's second-largest borough. The fragrance, from a company called Bond No. 9, sells for $220 a bottle. The creators have blended the scents of grapefruit, cardamom, cypress, cedar and leather."
What's wrong with that story? Bond names most of their scents after parts of New York, so that's nothing special. The problem is that Brooklyn isn't "New York City's second-largest borough." It's the largest.

According to 2007 census data, Brooklyn is home to 2,539,206 of New York City's 8,272,607 people. Queens is the second largest borough, with 2,240,174. Manhattan is the third largest borough with 1,625,251 people. (and the Bronx has about 300,000 fewer then Manhattan, and Staten Island is about the size of Albuquerque.)

To put Brooklyn populations into perspective, the Canarsie (last stop on the L train) and Flatlands neighborhoods of Brooklyn, bordering Jamaica Bay, have a population larger than Salt Lake City's 180,651.

So why would NPR get it so wrong? No one outside of Brooklyn and Queens realizes how huge and dense these boroughs actually are. As I like to point out, Brooklyn is bigger than Houston and closer in size to Chicago. And if you took Brooklyn out of New York, the City would still be the largest in the country:

1. New York City: 5,733,401
2. Los Angeles: 3,834,340
3. Chicago: 2,836,658
4. Brooklyn: 2,539,206
5. Houston: 2,208,180

Interestingly, Brooklyn was bigger in 1950 than it is today. Back then it had 2,738,175 people. The shift from 1950 to today was even more dramatic in Minneapolis, from around 500,000 then to 377,392 now. Chicago, too: in 1950 it had 3,620,962 people. Why? The suburbs.



Anonymous Sarah said...

It doesn't make sense in the context of the article, but maybe they were referring to the geographic size of the borough (#2 after Queens), rather than the population.

4:29 PM  

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