There are a lot of things an urban area can and should aspire to excel in. This is not one of them. Yet, even if gentrification is not something to strive for, it happens all the more often—and as there are ways to quantify it, we did just that, and a ranking arose, considering income growth, increase in home prices, and education levels. A less-than-glorious elite, if you will; the most gentrified cities and zip codes.
To find out which areas were most affected by gentrification since the turn of the millennium, our analysts took to the 2000 Census and the 2016 American Community Survey and looked at the changes that took place over a decade and a half in 11,000 U.S. ZIP codes. They turned their attention to three data points crucial in determining whether gentrification is present: the median home value, the median household income and the population that holds a bachelor’s or higher degree. The gentrification coefficient that gave us the final ranking is a simple average of the ranks the ZIP codes obtained in these three categories.
The table below showcases the 20 ZIP codes across the U.S. that have gentrified the most from 2000 to 2016, starting with the most gentrified. Click the column headers to sort the entries by the partial results.
Top 20 Most Gentrified ZIP codes 2000-2016
|ZIP||State||City||Ranking||Home Value Change||Household Income Change||Higher Education Change|
The East Coast dominates the top 20; Urban cores were hit the hardest
Although the problem does exist in pretty much every major city, from California‘s San Francisco to Atlanta in Georgia, the really spectacular cases of gentrification seem to be limited to relatively few, and the composition of the top 20 gives a pretty good indication of this. More than half, 12 of the top 20 most gentrified ZIP codes in the U.S. are parts of East Coast cities, which make some of the most gentrified places in the nation.
What’s more, five out of the top 20 most gentrified ZIP codes are located in Brooklyn (11211, 11222, 11216, 11237 and 11221). Meanwhile, Manhattan has two entries (10039 and 10026 — or Washington Heights and Harlem), the same as Philadelphia (19123 with Kensington and 19146 with Point Breeze) and Washington, DC (20001 and 20010), while Baltimore is present with one ZIP code (21224).
Two ZIPs in Los Angeles (90014 and 90013) and one in Tacoma (98402) represent the West Coast. Texas joins the list with two in Houston (77003 and 77007) and one each in Fort Worth (76102) and Austin (78702). Meanwhile, one ZIP code in the Midtown-Downtown West area of St. Louis, MO (63103) is the only Midwest market to have made it into our top 20.
The Many Faces of Gentrification
So far we have only been discussing the most gentrified ZIP codes, as ranked by taking all three contributing factors into consideration. But when looking at the growth of home value, income growth and education level separately, some of the numbers are so outrageous on their own, we felt that they need to be discussed separately.
As the most in-your-face indicator of why gentrification is a major issue and how it leads to the displacement of long-time residents of a neighborhood, the home value increase is entitled to be the first one to go under scrutiny:
Home Values through the Roof – Good for Statistics, Devastating for Communities
The average home value in 2016 for our top 20 most gentrified ZIPs was $446,730 with an average increase of no less than 224% since 2000. And if that wouldn’t be enough of a blow on the wedge that is spreading the income gap ever wider, this happened amidst a wave of supply growth—19 of the top 20 gentrified ZIP codes experienced increases in the number of households between 2000 and 2016. Baltimore’s 21224 — which encompasses the neighborhood of Graceland Park — is the only exception, but even there the number of households decreased by only 2.26%.
New York City dominates the top of the list, with some dizzying figures. That the median home value in New York’s 10044 (or Roosevelt Island) exploded, going from just over $48K to almost $655K is just one way to put it. Proportionally, it is an astonishing 1,258% expansion rate. Or a thirteenfold increase. Expressions that you rarely hear in any context…
Even in the tenth ZIP code down the list, Chattanooga, TN’s 37402, the median home value has more than tripled, passing $574K from less than $169K in just 17 years.
When Income Growth Is Bad News
In terms of income growth, ZIP code 20001 in Washington, DC, stands out from the 11,000 ZIP codes analyzed with a 163% growth rate of its median household income. From a just shy of $37K, it went to almost $97K!
Second on the podium is Houston’s 77007 ZIP code (encompassing the neighborhood of Washington Ave. – Memorial Park) which ranked #19 overall. What’s more, this is the only ZIP code out of the top 20 with a median household income above $100K. But what landed it on this list is the fact that just a decade and a half ago its median income was less than 50% of the current figure.
ZIP code 20005 (or Downtown Washington in Washington, DC) takes home the gold medal for third-highest income growth — this upscale neighborhood in the State Capital saw its median income blown to the stratosphere, from around $46,000 to over $95,000. Completing the podium in terms of income growth are ZIPs in Williston, ND, and Seattle, WA.
Talking about incomes, a sobering example is Los Angeles’ ZIP code 90014, which encompasses the centrally located neighborhoods of Gallery Row, Fashion District and Downtown Los Angeles. Although it didn’t make the podium in this breakdown with its 95% increase in median household income, it did take first place overall. In spite of the significant income growth, the majority of its residents still live under the poverty line as the median household income in 2016 was $24,670. The same is true for its next-door neighbor, 90013 (or the Wholesale District) which also registered a high, 77% income growth and is the 12th most gentrified in the nation, with a median income of just $23,078.
Long-Time Residents Forced to Compete with High Influx of Intellectual Newcomers
The share of the population holding a bachelor’s degree has more than doubled in 16 of the nation’s top 20 most gentrified ZIP codes. The exceptions are Brooklyn’s 11222 (Little Poland) and 11211 (Williamsburg) with 97%, and 95%, respectively; 10026 in Harlem with 92%; and DC’s 20010 (Columbia Heights) with 84%.
Yet again, we revisit 90014 in Downtown Los Angeles, as this is where the number of residents holding a higher education degree has increased the most out of all ZIPs analyzed, more than nine times, registering a whopping 857% increase. Next in line is 33547 in Lithia, FL, located in Hillsborough County, near Tampa, with a much lower, yet still astounding 449.9% expansion. Next comes another ZIP at the edge of Downtown LA, 90017, with an increase of 445.5%.