One of the goals of the Higley 1000 is to include as many wealthy neighborhoods or places as I can find. I have scoured this fair country of ours and found some micro-suburbs that are either incorporated or recognized as an unincorporated place by the Census Bureau. Many Censi ago they started calling unincorporated places “Census Designated Places”, a nomenclature that certainly hasn’t caught on with the general public (to say the least). The mean income statistics becomes ever more shaky when the Census Bureau collects data in such a small number of households that are typically found in a Wealthy Micro Village. In reality, the income statistics of these places are merely suggestive at best.
On the other hand, the Census Bureau collects population and racial data with an exact count (as mandated by the Constitution), so I have decided to include these wealthy villages and towns in the Higley 1000. My rationale is that if these village are are organized enough to incorporate, they deserve recognition. As my research proceeds, one of my guiding principals is that all rich people are created equal and just because approximately 1700 families ended up in a tiny place, or stray subdivision, if I can measure it, they will be counted! As I add these places on to the Higley 1000, they will knock off about 25 places from the bottom of the list that are larger, but not as representative of the highest echelon of geographical wealth in the United States. I doubt that anyone would quibble about the inclusion of these tiny but very elite places. Each one seems to have an interesting and fun story and I thought a series of postings on these places would be an interesting addition to my website.
Overall these wealthy micro villages are overwhelmingly Non-Hispanic White (93.0%) with little minority home ownership. The Non-Hispanic White population is even higher if one excludes Deering Bay, a new real estate development just south of Miami, the percentage of Non-Hispanic white climbs to 95.7% if one excludes Deering Bay from the 26 places on the list. With the exception of Deering Bay, there are few minorities to be found in these tiny elite places.
Deering Bay’s Hispanic population percentage (39.0%) is in the typical range that one finds in many of Miami’s and Coral Gable’s neighborhoods. Of course, we are talking about Cubans for the most part when we talk about any neighborhood in Miami with a large wealthy Hispanic population. Deering Bay was just be built and occupied when the 2000 Census was taken and it will have a much larger pop when the 2010 Census is taken.
Where to draw the line as to which place should be included and which is not a legitimate Higley 1000 place is somewhat tricky. Although I have no problems with some of these tiny places that just missed the cut-off of 150 households, as the micro villages get smaller and smaller the decision becomes more difficult. Should I include Country Life Acres, Missouri? Country Life Acres is merely an incorporated sub-division of 24 houses on a circle drive. It is surrounded by the large nouveau riche suburb of Town & Country and the houses are identical in size and style to houses found in adjacent neighborhoods. I doubt that anyone except a sifted few even know of Country Life Acres anonymous upper-middle class existence. This may be be the most print this “village” has ever seen!
I will also report back to you on apparent hoax towns that have somehow made it into Wikepedia’s list of wealthiest places in America. These are the most absurd wealthy places in America. I love Mound, Louisiana, with a population of 22 and supposedly a mean income of $205,548 (!). A rather exact figure for a place with 6 households. Mound Louisiana appears to be a Cotton Farm when one looks down at it from Google Earth.
Lotsee, Oklahoma wouldn’t make the Higley 1000 with an mean income of “$150,500”, but it appears to be a couple of cheap houses on a highway between Tulsa and Stillwater. I can’t believe that I must have driven through Lotsee dozens of times in my five years of teaching Geography at Oklahoma State and never even knew I was passing through such an elite place! I do remember (vaguely) a conversation from many years ago about stores incorporating as sales tax dodges. I’m not saying Lotsee is one of these, I just don’t know. I hope to visit Lotsee again someday (Population: 6). Not really.
Others in this questionable category include Baker, Missouri (Population: 2), Rex, North Carolina. Halibut Cove, Alaska is made up of 35 households in the middle of nowhere, Alaska. Of 35 households, 29 are Non-Hispanic White. None of the households are Native Alaskan. After a little research on the web, it appears that Halibut Cove is a remote artists colony that evidently does quite well in catering to tourists that want to get away from everything. The Census Bureau counts every tiny agglomeration of households in Alaska whether incorporated or not. This is a policy that is unique to Alaska.
Then there is the mystery of Green Hills, Pennsylvania. Green Hills is a legitimate Borough of Washington County yet appears to be 8 houses on a country club. There’s got to be a story behind this one!
Look forward to future occasional postings on these tiny wealthy places. I have already mentioned Crows Nest, Indianapolis in my posting on my trip to that city this summer.
I will first write about those places that I have personally visited or find particularly interesting. Here is a short list of some of those place I will be writing about:
1. Indian Creek, 38 houses on an Island in Biscayne Bay surrounding a country club. There are only 14 households that were recorded in the 2000 Census. Nine are Non-Hispanic Whites with a Mean Household Income of $496,000. Five are Hispanic with a Mean Income of $41,500. This tiny place neatly illustrates that live-in servant households can skew mean income figures.
2. Huntleigh (Missouri), an old money enclave that looks down it’s nose at Ladue
3. Cove Neck, New York: An elite peninsula on Long Island’s Gold Coast that can boast being the home to Teddy Roosevelt’s ghastly Victorian pile. A national treasure no doubt…. but what a place to live!
4. Golf, Florida: A sister city of Golf, Illinois and one of those places that I had the opportunity to tour. Legitimately. With an invitation (it is gated). When I attempted to drive around the Country Club instead of heading straight for the clubhouse to meet my interviewee, I was run down by the bored cop that had nothing better to do than harass a poor professor on a joy ride through a boring landscape of large ranches.
5. Sea Island, Georgia: Home to the recently remodeled and famed Cloisters. This gated Golden Isle of exclusivity has a suspiciously low mean income ($190,629). Sea Island is a classic example of how difficult it is to make the Higley 1000 when a place has a large number of seasonal homes and retired Households. I will tell the story of being turned back at the gates when I tried to visit the island, in spite of looking almost respectable!
6. Barton Hills, Michigan: Where Ann Arbor’s elite reside in wooded splendor.
7. Orchid, Florida: A Florida real estate development that incorporated as a village. It is just south of another upscale, though ungated unincorporated place that is known as North Beach.
8. Mettawa, Illinois: Lake Forest extended.
9. Willowbrook, Kansas: It is an incorporated Country Club on the prairie that seems to have bamboozled the Census Bureau. The 2000 Census found 12 homes. Of course, there could have been 26 more houses built since then… but then they all landscaped there new houses with mature plantings on the prairie. There must have been a boom in wealth in Hutchinson, Kansas in the last 7 years! Will Google Earth help the Census in 2010? Let’s hope so!
10. And finally, Mockingbird Valley. Well, actually a beautiful ravine that leads to the Louisville Country Club. This is a place of incredible wealth and it’s almost as beautiful as it’s upriver neighbor Glenview.
If you know of any place that I have missed… Let me know!