¿Y Dónde Están?: Changing Trends in NYC’s Latinx Population

Final Projects, Visualization

Introduction and Context

New York City is a city of immigrants, and that still holds true today. Immigration to NYC has never halted, and due to this the demographics of the city are always changing. It is imperative then, that organizations such as libraries, museums, and other community based organizations have a good and accurate read of where their community is. One of the most consistent groups of immigrants are people from Mexico, Central America, and South America. A long and often contentious immigration history, they have cemented themselves as part of the NYC ecosystem and culture. As a result, Spanish has emerged as an unofficial second language, and the city now has all of its major communications in Spanish as well. With the understanding that this community is vast and very prevalent, it is important to know where they are in order to best tailor services and resources to them. This information, due to the inherent changing nature of New York City, is not fixed. Using Census data as well as Department of Education enrollment information from the last 5 years allows a clearer snapshot to be seen.

A quick note on terminology: most of the demographic information provided by the Census and Department of Education use the term “Hispanic” rather than “Latinx.” At this moment, most demographic information never has an option for “Latinx” as an identity marker, even though those being polled might identify as such. So for the sake of this report, I will be combining the two terms to both capture what the data lacks and to still accurately represent the data set. Two other pieces of information that are important to be able to understand the date are NYC’s community districts and the DIstrict Borough Number (DBN) that identifies schools. Specifics of both of these can be found in the Appendix.  

Finally, a disclaimer on Census data: The Census has always had its issues with accuracy due to its participatory nature. The 2020 Census in particular was mired with issues, from the effects of COVID-19 and the Trump administration’s immigration question that was ultimately not added. An article on the undercount can be found in the additional reading section of this report.

Methods and Process

In order to find the best data set for this project, I spent some time on the City’s open data website. A central repository for city agencies to post their data sets, NYC Open Data was the main source of my data. The website was not the easiest to navigate, as the sort function was not the most useful. Unless you already know what organization has the data that you are looking for, you have to parse through each of the search results to make sure the data fits. The three datasets I ended up using were: the Department of Education’s 2017-2021 enrollment snapshot, the 1940-2040 Census NYC Population data, and the NYC Decennial 2010 – 2020 data. I had originally picked Demographic by Zip Code information and lists of Latinx media organizations and cultural organizations but they were cut as they did not fit the overall scope of the project. The sets I did pick had information such as overall population, Latinx/Hispanic population in both the 2010 and 2020 census, population data from each borough, city council districts, and neighborhoods, and the change between the 2010 and 2020 census data. 

To start the visualizations, I spent time in OpenRefine to ensure the data was workable. The Census data in particular had to be reworked a ton due to the columns not having a comprehensive structure: years were not set as numbers, the GeoType category had repeats that needed to be filtered out later, there was an abundance of extra demographic data that was not needed for this project so those were removed. Similarly, I had to use OpenRefine to clean up the school demographic information and the NYC 1950-2040 population data. This took a lot more time than I thought it would, but it made the visualization process much easier. The visualizations were done in Tableau, using the variety of tools they provide to make the information more palatable and digestible. 

Visualizations and Interpretation
Note: for interactive versions of these visualizations, please visit the links below.

NYC Population Change from 1950 - 2040
Figure 1

In the figure above we can clearly see the way that the NYC population has changed over the years. Used to orient the project, this visualization is used to ground the numbers the rest of the project will use. Having the NYC population at a glance in this simple bar graph shows city-wide trends to population changes that are then further broken down when taking a look at Latinx/Hispanic demographic data. The data from 1940 to 2010 are taken directly from Census data, while 2020, 2030, and 2040 are projected estimations (this was completed before the 2020 census). The design was chosen for easy readability and being able to hover over the bars to see the brough breakdown of the total population adds a second functionality for the user.

The main takeaway from this visualization is that while there was a population decline from 1970 to 1980, the overall population has been on the rise since then. This is also true for the individual boroughs, which adds valuable context to the Latinx/Hispanic population changes that are highlighted in the rest of the figures.

Figure 2

Rather than include a bar graph to show the Latinx/Hispanic population by borough, I used a box and whisker plot to show the way the population is distributed. With Brooklyn being the median and the Bronx being the top of the graph, this visualization allows the user to see not just what the 2020 Census reflects in terms of population, but also whether those numbers are higher or lower than the average. The colors assigned for each borough remain the same across the next 6 visualizations

The graph shows that the Bronx and Queens are the boroughs with the highest Latinx/Hispanic population, and Manhattan and Staten Island are the boroughs with the least. Brooklyn has the median number – mostly due to there only being 5 boroughs – and the difference between Brooklyn and Manhattan is not that stark. This information on its own shows agencies that might work across all 5 boroughs that they should concentrate their work in the Bronx and Queens, but anyone who does this kind of work already knows that. It’s Figure 3 that provides a more in-depth answer as to where this community is. 

Figure 3

Using a bubble graph to show the top Latinx/Hispanic neighborhoods grants us a clearer image of where this community is, and the color coding by borough continues to show which borough has the highest concentration of people. The neighborhood tabulation areas (NTA’s) are chosen by the Census, and some of them are very wide and expansive (such as Soundview – Bruckner – Bronx River) but searchable on Google Maps. For the sake of readability, this graph only includes neighborhoods that have more than 30,000 people that identified as Latinx/Hispanic on the 2020 Census. 

Reflecting what Figure 2 says about borough distribution, the neighborhood information is even more useful for organizations aiming to reach Latinx/Hispanic people. With 8 neighborhoods in the Bronx, it becomes obvious that that is where the efforts should be concentrated the most – however, it is interesting to see that two neighborhoods with the highest population are in Queens. This is due to the population density of that area of Queens overall, and is only furthered by the Census definitions separating Corona and North Corona. It is also interesting that Staten Island is not represented here, which is explained due to the low population of the island in general. If an organization was looking at this data, they would know which neighborhoods had the highest concentration of Latinx/Hispanic people in 2020

Figure 4
Figure 5

This scatter plot (Figure 4) marks where the shift of this project begins to focus on population changes between the 2010 and 2020 Census rather than just the 2020 results. This visualization in particular juxtaposes the population changes and the Latinx/Hispanic population changes by borough. While these are two different metrics (the way the population changed and the way the Latinx/Hispanic population changed, not necessarily the % of that population that is Latinx/Hispanic) it does help to track whether the demographic changes are in step with overall population changes. These changes are also tracked using a box and whisker plot to show how the Latinx/Hispanic population changes are distributed by borough. 

All of the boroughs experienced population changes, as seen in Figure 1, but some of the boroughs experienced a higher Latinx/Hispanic population change than others. As seen in Figure 5, this change was higher for the Bronx and Queens, and Manhattan actually experienced a negative change from the time the two Censuses were conducted. Brooklyn and Staten Island had a very similar increase, even though Brooklyn saw a much larger overall population change. As the previous figures show, the Bronx and Queens are the boroughs to focus efforts in– but it would also be worth trying to reach the new 15K Latinx/Hispanic people who have moved to Staten Island. 

Figure 6
Figure 7
Figure 8

The final piece of Census data are three breakdowns of the Latinx/Hispanic population change between the 2010 and 2020 Census: by City Council District, by Community Districts, and by Neighborhood Tabulation Areas (NTA). Figure 6 is a treemap due to the overlap of a few districts across boroughs, and uses a gradient to show which of the districts has the highest change. Figure 7 is a simple bar graph that shows the increases based on community districts, with each bar being color-coded by borough to make it more understandable at a glance. This graph is interesting due to the way it also shows the negative changes. Figure 8 follows a similar rationale as Figure 7 but uses the Neighborhood Tabulation Areas instead of City Council Districts. When partnered with the map in the Appendix, it is very clear which neighborhoods experienced the most change between Censuses. 

These three graphs attempt to find the same information: where the biggest change has happened in the last 10 years. The visualizations do this by focusing on a few different measures, and have different results because of this. Figure 6 shows the City Council Districts that experienced the highest changes, the top 5 of which end up being Districts 11 and 13 in the Bronx and Districts 30, 21, and 19 in Queens. Figure 7 shows that the Community Districts that the top 5 Community Districts that experienced the biggest change are all in the Bronx, with one being in Staten Island. Finally, Figure 8 identifies the top 5 NTA’s that experienced the most change are in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. These results are interesting because it tracks the response of those specific districts from 2010 to 2020, so the top 5 are not the same across the board.

Figure 9
Figure 10

Finally, in order to ensure that this project is not solely reliant on Census data, information from the Department of Educations enrollment data was used to track the change in Latinx/Hispanic enrolment from 2017 to 2021. These two visualizations show a number of different items: Figure 9 compares the difference in overall enrollment changes with the enrollment changes of students who identify as Latinx/Hispanic; Figure 10 shows the top 50 schools with the highest 2021 enrollment of Latinx/Hispanic students and shows the changes from 2017. The first figure uses a basic bar graph comparison per year to show both changes, and the second graph uses a line to track the changes across the years. 

The main takeaway from these two graphs are that student enrollment is down overall, with a steep decline from 2019 to 2021, and that only a few schools have experienced a significant growth of Latinx/Hispanic students from 2017 to now. This information is mainly useful for organizations who are looking to reach families, with Figure 10 showing which schools should be focused on. It is important to use the supplementary DOE material to interpret the District Borough Numbers (DBN) – with the first two numbers being the district, the letter being the borough, and the last three being the school number. Using the list in the Appendix and then a Google search, we can see that the school with the highest Latinx/Hispanic enrollment change is the Equity Project Charter School in the Inwood area of Manhattan. 

UX Process

The UX process for this included two user tests conducted with a family member who works with data and a colleague from Pratt. The method for this process included having the user do a run through of the visualizations on Tableau, both at a glance and in an interactive form. I asked both users if they could understand what information the visualizations were trying to convey, and if they could find specific information (such as top Community District). Then, I asked if there were any readability or usability issues, to which I got a few recommendations. The most important one was that Figure 5 did not have the right filter, and had numbers that were clearly too high. I had to fix the filter to make sure it matched Figure 4. I also received feedback that the box and whisker plots required some explanation, especially in regards to the box. I received good feedback on the bubble graph’s readability, and feedback to make the colors in Figure 6 more of a gradient rather than a solid color.

Key Takeaways

After having created these 10 visualizations, there are a couple of key takeaways:

– Overall population growth continues across all 5 boroughs
– The Bronx and Queens have not only the highest population of Latinx/Hispanic people, but have also experienced the highest change from the 2010 Census.
– Select areas in Staten Island and Brooklyn are also worth focusing efforts in, as they have new burgeoning Latinx/Hispanic communities.
– Schools have declining enrollment, but there are a few schools that have significantly more Latinx/Hispanic children than they had in 2017.
– There are a few places of interest for organizations that want to reach Latinx/Hispanic, and they are shown in the Appendix.
– Useful tools to interpret the visualizations further can also be found in the Appendix.

Reflection and Self-Critique

This project was much more involved than I had set it out to be. Originally, I was curious about overall demographic information of the city and how it changed, but I received good feedback that I should ask myself what questions this project would answer. As I currently work at the library, I know that there is an increased need to meet people where they are, especially in this “post-pandemic” time that we live in. So the question for this became “where are the new Latinx populations in NYC?” Using the Census data proved a bit challenging but rewarding, as once it was cleaned up it was very easy to have be presented as a whole package. Paired with the school data, I feel confident in the usefulness of this project. My only critique would be that GIS visualization would be very helpful for this, but I do not feel confident in using that software. Overall this was a very engaging experience for me and it reflects the way that Tableau is useful in dissecting information into something tangible and useful. The data reflects that there are in fact new communities that organizations like the library should be trying to reach, and is a strong reminder that this type of change will continue to happen. The solution, in my opinion, is for more of this kind of community research to be done to ensure organizations do not fall behind with the need of the community.

Appendix A: Top 5
The following are the locations with the highest Latinx/Hispanic population change, and as such should be target areas for organizations trying to reach this community.

Boroughs (In order of Latinx/Hispanic Population Change):
Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island

City Council Districts: 

11 – Bronx (Bedford Park, Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Norwood, Van Cortlandt Village, Wakefield, Woodlawn) 
13 – Bronx (Allerton, City Island, Country Club, Edgewater Park, Ferry Point, Locust Point, Morris Park, Pelham Bay, Pelham Gardens, Pelham Parkway, Schuylerville, Silver Beach, Spencer Estates, Throggs Neck, Van Nest, Waterbury LaSalle, Westchester Square, Zerega) 
30 – Queens (Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, Woodside) 
21 – Queens (East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Corona in Queens, including Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Lefrak City and LaGuardia Airport) 
19 – Queens (Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Beechhurst, College Point, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck, Malba, Whitestone) 

Community Districts

Bronx 10 – City Island, Co-op City, Country Club, Edgewater Park, Pelham Bay, Schuylerville, Throgs Neck, Westchester Square 
Bronx 12 – Baychester, Eastchester, Edenwald, Olinville, Wakefield, Williamsbridge, Woodlawn
Bronx 7 – Bedford Park, Fordham, Kingsbridge Heights, Norwood, University Heights
Staten Island 1 – Arlington, Castleton Corners, Clifton, Elm Park, Fox Hills, Graniteville, Grymes Hill, Howland Hook, Livingston, Mariner’s Harbor, New Brighton, Old Place, Park Hill, Port Ivory, Port Richmond, Randall Manor, Rosebank, Shore Acres, Silver Lake, St. George, Stapleton, Sunnyside, Tompkinsville, Ward Hill, West Brighton, West New Brighton, Westerleigh, Willowbrook
Bronx 8 – Fieldston, Kingsbridge, Marble Hill, North Riverdale, Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil


Throgs Neck-Schuylerville (Bronx)
Corona (Queens)
Bensonhurst (Brooklyn)
Harlem North (Manhattan)
Riverdale-Spuyten Duyvil (Bronx)

84M430 – Manhattan – The Equity Project Charter School
24Q110 – Queens – PS 110
06M348 – Manhattan – Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School
84M336 – Manhattan – KIPP Infinity Charter School
24Q125 – Queens – IS 125 Thom J McCann Woodside

Appendix B: Useful Links

Latino Immigration and New York: https://nacla.org/news/2014/1/23/latino-new-york-introduction 

1970’s decline: https://www.nytimes.com/1977/09/05/archives/new-jersey-pages-new-york-citys-population-loss-442000-since-1970.html 

Census Data Undercount:  https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2022/2020-census-estimates-of-undercount-and-overcount.html 

City Council Districts: https://council.nyc.gov/districts/

Community Districts: https://communityprofiles.planning.nyc.gov/

NTA Map: https://popfactfinder.planning.nyc.gov/#11.67/40.8143/-73.884 

DBN List: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/mfta/downloads/pdf/mfta_school_accounts.pdf

Data Sets

2010 vs 2020 NYC Census Data: https://www.nyc.gov/site/planning/planning-level/nyc-population/2020-census.page

NYC Population by Borough, 1950 – 1940: https://data.cityofnewyork.us/City-Government/New-York-City-Population-by-Borough-1950-2040/xywu-7bv9/data

DOE 2017/18 – 2021/22 Demographic Snapshot: https://data.cityofnewyork.us/Education/2017-18-2021-22-Demographic-Snapshot/c7ru-d68s/data