Wealthy Neighborhoods: City vs. Suburb

Wealthy Neighborhoods: City vs. Suburb

Central Cities Dominate the top of the Higley 1000

When one looks at the list of the 1,000 wealthiest neighborhoods in the United States, the information is so fine grained, that the larger picture can be lost. In order to give my readers a bit of perspective I have totaled up the the number of Higley 1000 households in each city or town within their corporate limits.  With these totals in mind, one can then get the big picture of where to find the greatest geographical concentrations of wealth in the United States.

Many of the Higley 1000 neighborhoods that are near the top of the list (based on mean household income) tend to be very small homogeneous collections of mansions such as Holmby Hills or the Woodley Road neighborhood of New Trier Township just North of Chicago. If there was someway to statistically isolate the 63 Coops and 5 Condominiums that line Fifth Avenue from 60th to 96th, this would be undoubtedly be the wealthiest “neighborhood” in the United States. Alas, Census Geography includes the west side of Madison Avenue. Consequently, it is impossible to isolate this gilded row of Fifth Avenue using Census data.

It may surprise some that central cities dominate the top of the list for total number of households found in the Higley 1000. Not all central cities have seen their wealthiest citizens flee to the suburbs (e.g. Detroit, Hartford, and Cleveland). In fact, five out of the top six places are central cities. Manhattan easily tops the list with 37,429 Higley 1000 households found in six neighborhoods.

The Upper East Side of Manhattan, with over 23,000 households on the Higley 1000 dwarfs the average neighborhood on the list that has approximately 700 households. Throw in 9,500 households from the Upper West Side and it is easy to see why Manhattan is at the top of the list. The total for Manhattan also includes the much smaller Higley 1000 neighborhoods of Sutton Place, Beekman Place, Tribeca, and Midtown.

Table of the City & Towns with the Largest Number of Higley 1000 Neighborhoods

Neighborhoods containing the
Greatest Number of Households

Rank City or Town Households Metro Area
1 Manhattan 37,429 New York City
2 Los Angeles 30,813 Los Angeles
3 Dallas 10,819 Dallas-Fort Worth
4 Greenwich 8,065 New York City
5 Houston 7,422 Houston
6 Atlanta 6,557 Atlanta
7 McLean 6,513 Washington DC
8 Potomac 6,144 Washington DC
9 Newport Beach 6,102 Los Angeles
10 Westport 5,549 New York City
11 San Francisco 5,535 San Francisco
12 Scarsdale 5,284 New York City
13 Chappaqua 5,102 New York City
14 Bloomfield Twp 4,848 Detroit
15 Bethesda 4,833 Washington DC
16 Lake Forest 4,832 Chicago
17 Great Falls 4,693 Washington DC
18 Washington DC 4,644 Washington DC
19 Lower Merion Twp 4,581 Philadelphia
20 New Canaan 4,317 New York City
21 Wilton 4,308 New York City
22 Rye 4,279 New York City
23 Sandy Springs 4,060 Atlanta
24 Darien 4,049 New York City
25 Boca Raton 4,042 West Palm Beach

Within the city of Los Angeles there is a string of 23 neighborhoods from the West Hollywood Hills to Castellammare. When the neighborhoods along the flanks of the Santa Monica Mountains are combined, Los Angeles is a close second to Manhattan. Beverly Hills would add an additional 3,000 households to Los Angeles’ total, but it is a separately incorporated city. The Los Angeles total also includes the four neighborhoods in the Hancock Park area (Hancock Park, Windsor Square, Fremont Place, and New Windsor Square) as well as Los Feliz.

Surprisingly, Chicago’s Gold Coast does not figure in the Higley 1000. In fact, in the entire city of Chicago, only one stray Block Group in Lincoln Park had a mean household income high enough to make the list.

Dallas is in third place when totaling the Higley 1000 households within city limits. At 385 square miles, Dallas is similar to Los Angeles (469 square miles) in having the foresight to annex large amounts of land in the path of upscale development. Consequently, Dallas has no less 15 Higley 1000 neighborhoods that stretch from the unique mansions of Preston Hollow on the South to the tract McMansions of Bent Tree North in Collin County.

The annexation of large swathes of land in the direction of upscale development eventually would prove to be a master stroke. When a city’s elite flees to the suburbs, high-end retail, as well as institutions (e.g. churches and synagogues), are soon to follow. Central cities are filled with Church’s in the hands of much poorer folk that have inherited the cathedrals of the rich.

The loss of the upper and upper middle class tax dollars and spending is bad enough for central cities, but without elites, you also lose their input and their involvement in civic affairs. They also have the means to contribute to “good government” candidates and hire lawyers if necessary to keep the city officials on their toes.

Comfortably ensconced in Grosse Pointes of this world… why care about the problems of the Detroits of this world?  It is an all too unfortunate reality in the United States that suburbanites don’t care if the central city struggles as they only care about their small hometown. When race enters the equation, problems between city and suburbs can grow exponentially. My current hometown of Birmingham is a classic example of very little meaningful cooperation between the African-American city and the lily White suburbs.

Homer Hoyt was Right

Homer Hoyt was a urban sociologist at the University of Chicago in the 1930s. He observed the sector and wedge geographical development of American cities and noticed a pronounced pattern where the wealthy move outward from the original elite neighborhoods… usually towards the metro area’s most scenic and desirable geography. Dallas is a perfect example of this pattern (although if you’ve ever seen Plano, the “scenic and desirable” may not apply…)

With the sole exception of the Lakewood neighborhood, all of Dallas’ wealthiest neighborhoods are found along the Dallas North Tollway and Preston Road heading due north from the CBD. The wealthiest neighborhoods of Dallas are bracketed on the south by the separately incorporated Park Cities (Highland Park and University Park) and on the north by the four Higley 1000 neighborhoods in Plano. As the map below shows, the Dallas neighborhoods of the Higley 1000 make an almost perfect North/South axis.

Map of the Dallas Metro Areas’ Higley 1000 Neighborhoods

View Larger Map of Higley 1000 Neighborhoods in Dallas

It will come as no surprise that Greenwich, Connecticut, the land of Hedge Fund operators as well as Social Register Blue Bloods has the largest number of suburban Higley 1000 households (8,065). This number is just over 1/3 of the total Greenwich households. Not only are there a large number of Higley 1000 households in Greenwich, many of the neighborhoods are also near the top of the list. Five of the 25 richest neighborhoods in the country are found in the sylvan confines of Greenwich: Round Hill-North Greenwich (#3 on the Higley 1000); Burning Tree Country Club (#9); Belle Harbor (#11); Stanwich-Conyers Farm (#14); and the Greenwich Country Club comes in at (#23).

Map of Greenwich, Connecticut and the Surrounding Communities

View Larger Map of Higley 1000 Neighborhoods in the Greenwich area

Posted in General, The US Census, Uncategorized on Jun 3rd, 2008, 1:16 pm by Stephen Higley   

One Response to “Wealthy Neighborhoods: City vs. Suburb”

  1. October 14th, 2012 | 10:30 pm

    Hi Stephen~

    I just wanted to mention to you that I was a patient of your dad’s and I have very fond memories of him.

    You have a very interesting site!


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