Hell's Kitchen through the 2020 Census

A look at an urban neighborhood

I previously wrote about a rural area when exploring the 2020 census. I thought that I would look at how things have changed over the last decade in an urban area. Hell’s Kitchen is a neighborhood of New York City in the Borough of Manhattan. While once a working-class neighborhood, the area has become increasingly gentrified since the 1980s. There is no agreed-upon boundary, but for this piece, I am using the following landmarks as the boundaries:

  • North: 58th Street

  • East: 8th Avenue

  • South: 42nd Street

  • West: Hudson River

If you are not from New York City but are a GIS person, like me, the definition of the neighborhood is six census tracts from the 2010 census. The map below shows the census tracts and some background information from Open Street Map.

In 2010, Hell’s Kitchen had 43,581 residents.1 As of the 2020 census, it is now home to 55,661 people.2 The 12,080 new residents of Hell’s Kitchen were mostly found in the two census tracts along the river, 129 and 135. The four census tracts south of 10th Avenue only grew by 1,749.

These tracts were where new housing has been built. I assume most of this new construction is adding housing units to the neighborhood, but the American Community Survey data that I have is not granular enough to show this. Between 2010 and 2019, Hell’s Kitchen added 3,931 additional housing units bringing the neighborhood up to 33,085 units.3 The map below shows the growth by census tract. Interestingly, tract 121 had no home construction in the past decade.

For every new home built in the neighborhood, just over 3 new residents moved in. This shows just how many people want to live in Hell’s Kitchen and is leading to rising rents. In 2010, 34.2% of residents were paying more than 35% of their gross income in rent. That number has risen slightly to 34.8% of residents.4

The split nature of Hell’s Kitchen shows us that if you build more housing, in an in-demand area, people will move there. If you don’t build additional housing, people will still move there.


2010 Census. Extracted from the 2010 redistricting data using the PL94171 R package.


2020 Census. Extracted from the 2020 redistricting data using the PL94171 R package.


5-year estimates from the 2019 and 2010 American Community Survey