The Dynamic Population of Manhattan

Moss, Mitchell L. and Carson Qing.
Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, Wagner School of Public Service, New York University, March, 2012.

We cannot understand Manhattan in the 21st century by relying on conventional measures of urban activity. Simply put, Manhattan consists of much more than its residential population and daily workforce. This island, measuring just 22.96 square miles, serves approximately 4 million people on a typical weekday, 2.9 million on a weekend day, and a weekday night population of 2.05 million. Manhattan, with a residential population of 1.6 million more than doubles its daytime population as a result of the complex network of tunnels, bridges, railroad lines, subways, commuter rail, ferry systems, bicycle lanes, and pedestrian walkways that link Manhattan to the surrounding counties, cities and towns.

This transportation infrastructure, largely built during the twentieth century, is operated by the City of New York, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. The infrastructure network generates a constant flow of people who are responsible for Manhattan's emergence as a world capital for finance, media, fashion, and the arts.

The residential population count does not include the 1.6 million commuters who enter Manhattan every weekday, or the hundreds of thousands of visitors who use Manhattan's tourist attractions, hospitals, universities, and nightclubs. This report analyzes the volume of people flowing in and out of Manhattan during a 24-hour period; we provide an upper estimate of the actual number of people in Manhattan during a typical work day.


Wagner Faculty