These days it’s possible for media to take vast amounts of information – the census – and to create reader-friendly interfaces like these.
Global News has generated 2011 Canadian census-tract maps for population and density here.
The New York Times produced an interface for the 2010 U.S. census, with many more layers, here.
So what better time to check out the veracity of the belief that the West End is the densest residential area in North America.
Here’s the densest census tract downtown: 28,078.8 people per square kilometre.
The densest census tract on Manhattan that I could find: 200,764.2 people per square mile (or 77,545.1 per square kilometre).
The West End is not even close. However, the overall density of Manhattan is 26,832 – less than the West End’s densest part. So the myth has some basis in fact.
But how about in Canada? Nope: both Montreal and Toronto have significantly higher pockets of density. In Montreal, the student ghetto just east of McGill, at 30,117.2 people per square kiometre:
In Toronto, not surprisingly in St. James Town, Canada’s densest census tract (that I’ve found), at 60,915.4 :
Though I don’t have data to back this up, my impression is that all these various locations cover a good part of the economic spectrum, from Upper East Side New Yorkers to refugees in St. James Town.
Another interesting factoid that I came across: the population has fallen by a few percent in most census tracts in the West End.