How Manhattan’s density changed over 210 years

A neat video showing how population density in Manhattan has changed over 210 years. It was created by NYU urban scholars Solly Angel and Patrick Lamson-Hall and shows neighborhood population densities on the island from 1800 to 2010 using historical maps, aerial photographs, and census ward statistics. One of the creators notes:

The lessons, in short? Densities in Manhattan as a whole rose in the 19th century, peaked in 1910, fell for 70 years, and have been rising slowly since 1980.

Helping Our Heritage Come Alive – Parnell Rise

This is an image from Mark Bishop. Here are the previous posts: Queen and Wellesley, Newton Rd, Kingsland, Mt Eden Rd, Dominion Rd, Karangahape Rd, Mt Eden South

These images were developed by merging together various historic black and white photographs (all from the “Sir George Grey Special Collection” – Auckland Library) with contemporary colour photographs taken at the same location.

The black and white photographs were taken between the years 1900 to 1940, and cover a number of areas of the city and the outlying suburbs. The colour photographs were all taken in early 2015.

The intention of these images is to use photography to help show how much has changed – or not changed – over almost one hundred years by focusing on locations that are familiar to Aucklanders.

It is interesting to think that the people, horses and trams seen in these images passed by around a century ago where we walk and drive today.

View looking east up Parnell Rise and shows Beach Road in foreground.  Black and white photograph (Mar 1904) from “Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries 1-W942.”

History Alive - Parnell Rise

This is the last of the series so many thanks to Mark for providing them.

Thanks Campbell Live

Last week sadly saw the end of Campbell Live. Much has already been said elsewhere about the great work the Campbell Live team produced over the decade the show was on air across topics such as the Christchurch earthquake and child poverty and many others. I’m not going to attempt to talk about those topics but I would like to say thanks to the team for the work they did on the urban issues that are of interest here at the blog – in particular transport and housing.

Over the years that I’ve been involved with the blog it’s been clear that in general the media don’t do a very good job at explaining urban issues. Far too often they try to boil arguments to dichotomies such as roads vs public transport, buses vs trains, bikes vs cars, high rise apartments vs sprawl. Often that reporting includes an editorial slant that reflects the personal preferences of individuals or that is aimed at attacking individuals. One of the clearest examples of this was the Herald’s coverage of the Unitary Plan where tried to stoke fear that the entire city was about to be turned into some version of Hong Kong when many areas of the city would see no change. Another example is the repeated linking of the City Rail Link to Len Brown when the project existed and was being worked on before he became mayor.

The Campbell Live team were one of the few who would take the time to understand and explain the more nuanced aspects of issues. They’d explain why more PT and cycling is also good for roads, that multiple options exist, that intensification doesn’t have to mean high rise and what good intensification should include. They’d talk to leading international experts such as Janette Sadik-Kahn and examine what similar cities internationally are doing about the same problems we face. Of course they’d also question the government and ministers on these topics too.

Of course I can’t go past the fact they even covered our Congestion Free Network including creating a fantastic animation of it.

Campbell Live 31 July 3

So thank you John Campbell and the Campbell Live team. It’s a huge disappointment that you will no longer be on air to tell a more balanced story than we get from most other media sources.

Helping Our Heritage Come Alive – Karangahape Rd

This is an image from Mark Bishop. Here are the previous posts: Queen and Wellesley, Newton Rd, Kingsland, Mt Eden Rd, Dominion Rd

These images were developed by merging together various historic black and white photographs (all from the “Sir George Grey Special Collection” – Auckland Library) with contemporary colour photographs taken at the same location.

The black and white photographs were taken between the years 1900 to 1940, and cover a number of areas of the city and the outlying suburbs. The colour photographs were all taken in early 2015.

The intention of these images is to use photography to help show how much has changed – or not changed – over almost one hundred years by focusing on locations that are familiar to Aucklanders.

It is interesting to think that the people, horses and trams seen in these images passed by around a century ago where we walk and drive today.

View looking east on corner of Karangahape Road and Pitt Street .  Black and white photograph (1919) from  “Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1682″.

History Alive - Karangahape Rd

Helping Our Heritage Come Alive – Dominion Rd

This is an image from Mark Bishop. Here are the previous posts: Queen and Wellesley, Newton Rd, Kingsland, Mt Eden Rd

These images were developed by merging together various historic black and white photographs (all from the “Sir George Grey Special Collection” – Auckland Library) with contemporary colour photographs taken at the same location.

The black and white photographs were taken between the years 1900 to 1940, and cover a number of areas of the city and the outlying suburbs. The colour photographs were all taken in early 2015.

The intention of these images is to use photography to help show how much has changed – or not changed – over almost one hundred years by focusing on locations that are familiar to Aucklanders.

It is interesting to think that the people, horses and trams seen in these images passed by around a century ago where we walk and drive today.

View looking south down Dominion Road near corners of Walters Road and Valley Road.  Black and white photograph (1910) from “Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 255A- 93.”

History Alive - Dominion Rd

Sometimes people move

As written in the Herald a few weeks ago, sometimes people move. Sometimes they move to Auckland. Sometimes they move out of Auckland. Sometimes they even move country. But paragraphs like this can be a bit misleading:

As house prices in the country’s biggest city spiral out of control, Auckland homeowners are cashing in their chips and buying mansions in the regions.

Thousands of property owners are now sitting on million-dollar goldmines thanks to rampant capital gain. The lure of a traffic-free, laid-back lifestyle with outdoor space for the children is proving tempting for many, and one-in-10 Hawkes Bay sales are now to ex-pat Aucklanders. The Bay of Islands and Marlborough are also drawing “Jafa” homeowners keen to escape the rat race.

I did a writeup on internal migration last year – long story short, of course people move for all sorts of reasons, and for that matter Auckland has had a net loss of people to other regions for some time. But it’s tiny in the context of Auckland’s overall population growth.

Overall Population Growth for Auckland

Even the largest internal migration loss – between 2001-2006 – was still pretty small compared to those other bars on the graph. The 1996-2001 and 2008-2013 figures are negligibly small.

Incidentally, I expect a larger internal migration loss in the next five years – after all, we’ve got massive international immigration, with many of these new Kiwis heading to Auckland. That has put pressure on our housing supply, and no doubt it is a factor prompting more Aucklanders to sell up and move elsewhere, for retirement or a quieter lifestyle. We did lose more people to other regions over 2001-2006, when we were also seeing major international immigration. That’s probably not a coincidence. We could very well see something similar this time around, especially with many baby boomers at around retirement age. Check back in 2019 to see if I’m right!

Articles like the recent Herald one, though, aren’t very useful for informing the issue, since they only look at people going one way, and rely on anecdotal stories rather than statistics. Here are the actual stats for movements in and out of Auckland in 2008-2013:

Internal migration

We lost a few thousand people to each of the nearby regions, gained a few from Wellington and Canterbury (with the earthquakes probably an influence), and had very little “net” movement to or from other regions. How about the places mentioned by the Herald? We lost a net 132 people to the Hawkes Bay, and gained 12 from Marlborough. The Bay of Islands is part of Northland of course, but looking just at the Far North district we lost 585 people.

Each of these thousands of people have their lives and stories to tell about why they’ve moved, but taking a macro view, the diaspora from Auckland to other parts of New Zealand is more of a trickle than a flood.

Stats Commuter View

I was poking around the Stats NZ site the other day (unrelated to my post on central city employment) when I came across this neat interactive visualisation of the Journey to Work data from the last Census. By clicking on any Area Unit it will show how many people commuted to and from it from every other Area Unit. People commuting to an area are shown in blue while people commuting from the area are shown in Brown while people who live and work in the same area unit aren’t shown on the map but are indicated on the table to the right of the map.

The tool is still in beta and one issue I’ve found is that the thickness of the line can be a bit misleading. It seems the thickness is based on passing a threshold for the numbers of people moving between two area units. As such less than 100 people is shown as a thin line, between 100 and 300 as a medium line and above 300 as a thick line. That said here are a few examples and some interesting observations from briefly playing with the tool.

The difference in the distribution of trips to the eastern and western sides of the CBD are quite pronounced. As mentioned above some of that will be due to there being more jobs in on the Western side as well as the thresholds that have been set but I wonder if there are other factors at play

Census Journey to Work - Auckland Central West and East

A chart to the right of the map also provides information on how many travelled to, from or live and work in the area.

Census Journey to Work - Auckland Central West table

As you would expect, most people working in other employment centres tend to live in the surrounding suburbs, an example of this is East Tamaki but it can also be seen in many other employment areas such as Albany, Takapuna, East Tamaki and Manukau. Below is East Tamaki.

Census Journey to Work - East Tamaki

The opposite tends to be seen in what are primarily dormitory areas such as Sunnynook below. You can see residents there are primarily travelling to Albany/North Harbour, Wairau Rd-Takapuna or the Central City.

Census Journey to Work - Sunnynook

With both the employment areas and residential suburbs what you notice is that in addition to local workers, a lot of people are doing long distance trips across town. That highlights that even if local employment exists, many workers don’t work locally which is likely due to a wide range of factors.

In addition to the map the tables that make up the data for each area unit are also available by selecting the area unit you want and then clicking the tables link at the top of the page or in the chart to the right of the map.

I think it would be great to be able to group together various area units – such as the central city ones but overall a very neat and useful visualisation – one that I’m likely to use a lot. I also certainly hope that Stats NZ start doing more visualisations like this.

Drinking the Kool-Aid: IPENZ event tonight

Kool-Aid

Photo of the day: Ride in to the mist

While most of Auckland basked in glorious sunshine on Tuesday morning, a patch fog enveloped the area around the upper harbour making Auckland’s second harbour crossing disappear into the distance.

Upper Harbour Bridge Cycleway

Northland, Politics, Transport, and Pork

On March 28 the (normally safe) National-held electorate of Northland heads for a bye-election. The outcome of the bye-election will be fascinating for several reasons.

The first reason is that it’s politically important. If Winston Peters wins then it will be more difficult for National to pass controversial legislation, because they will need the votes of not just one but two support parties.

Legislation like the Sky City casino-for-convention-centre deal and RMA reforms suddenly become pawns in a three-way game of arbitrage between parties with somewhat different support bases and philosophies. Amusingly, National could end up leading a government not too dissimilar to what they warned the opposition would have been like, had the latter prevailed at the last election.

david_cunliffe_is_in_labour_s_ad_while_national_go_53f39d7296

The second reason the bye-election is so interesting is that transport has, somewhat unexpectedly, become a major campaign issue.

Early in the campaign, the Minister of Transport (Simon Bridges) suddenly found $69 million in previously stretched transport budgets for two-laning a number of bridges in Northland. This funding announcement was apparently made without any information or advice being sought, or received, from transport officials. This is an announcement that Winston himself would be proud of, indeed he’s pulled similar stunts in the past.

The reality for National, however, is that few people seem to have been impressed by the transport funding announcement. Instead, it has received considerable attention for delving so blatantly into pork-barrel politics.

Northland-morepork

Questions have also been raised about the effectiveness of the spend. For many of the locals interviewed by Campbell Live, two-waying bridges seem to be far from the top of the priorities list.

National have also apparently linked funding for the Puhoi-Wellsford highway to the outcome of the bye-election. Amazing how an apparently essential piece of transport infrastructure can so suddenly becomes not so important when there is a bye-election.

I’ve personally found it interesting watching National’s transport pork-barrel approach in Northland, especially in light of recent political happenings in Australia, where I am currently based.

In Victoria, Dennis Nathpine’s Liberal Government tied their political fortunes to the eye-wateringly expensive $18 billion “East-West Link”. It was a bad pick, with polls showing the East-West link had levels of support that were half of comparable metro rail projects. Napthine was subsequently kicked out of office.

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Meanwhile, in Queensland, Campbell-Newman built a reputation for delivering large, expensive, and largely unnecessary motorway tunnels. His Government’s promises of more roading pork were spectacularly dismissed after only one term in office after a 12% swing back to Labour.

And at the Federal level Tony Abbott’s unwillingness to fund passenger transport improvements in Australia’s rapidly growing cities is receiving growing criticism. This is in stark contrast to the former (and possible future) Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull, who supports passenger transport.

As an economist, I think there’s a key message for National in all of these events. It’s not just that roading pork hasn’t been sufficient to save political bacon, but also that there is often a large gap between stated and revealed preferences.

Why is this important? Well, I suspect what all of these conservative parties have done, including National, is held focus groups where they’ve asked people whether they support more investment in roads. In response, many of these people have said “yes”. Something like these guys.

 

itchyscratchypoochie_03

 

The problem with stated preference surveys is the trade-offs are usually not made explicit. More specifically, when you invest more in roads, you often find that you don’t get much bang for your buck.

So while people say they want more investment in roads, after a couple of years of fluffing about with largely ineffective road investments, they suddenly realise that they’re not actually much better off. Political strategies based on stated preferences may therefore work in the short run, but they are likely to run out of gas in the long run.

The lesson for National in all this, I think, is that they increasingly run the risk that people will catch onto the fact that their transport pork is failing to return much value. Every new road that opens which fails to meet forecasts, every new business case that is shown to be baloney, eventually creates the case for your opponents to shred your credibility. It won’t happen overnight, but it probably will happen.

This is especially true when you’re foolish enough to do what National have done, i.e. hang your dirty transport laundry out to dry in the blazing heat of a Northland bye-election.

This seems to be a timely and early lesson for Simon Bridges: Emulating the pork-barrel approach employed by Joyce and Brownlee will not necessarily bring you enduring political success. Just ask Nathpine, Campbell-Newman, and Abbott if you want to see the proof in that political pudding.