For the past half-dozen years I’ve been fighting an easily-mapped battle about the shortage of eligible bachelors in New York City. Straight, single women claim there’s no men, I wave around some data saying otherwise, and then we all have a fun time figuring out where the guys are hiding. My singles map gets updated every single year, and every time it’s the exact same result: You complaining ladies must be crazy.
Gawker covered it. Glamour talked about it. My refutation of every single New York woman’s experience was such a Thing that I was in Elle magazine about it.
Except, of course, I was completely (kind of) wrong. While there might be more single men in NYC than single women, they aren’t who you think.
Take a look at this map about what life is really like as a single person in NYC – it’s singles organized by age and zip code. We’ll talk more after you take a peek.
Note: I’m mostly talking about singles in their twenties and early thirties below. If you’d like the scoop on why young singles are men and old singles are women, check out my original map.
Note #2: This data is from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Table B12002. According to the Census Bureau, “single” is everyone who isn’t currently married, and it completely ignores sexuality, so this is far from an exact science!
Okay, friends, time for a heart-to-heart. My original map showed the Northeast as something that looked like this:
The bigger those blue circles, the more “extra” men in any given metropolitan area. Looks like it’s dudes all the way down, right? And it is, kind of.
My original map (and others like it) were collected at the area of a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), a grouping used by the Census Bureau to put cities and their immediate, tight-knit suburbs together. Since these areas are basically married, it makes sense to treat them as a single statistical area, right? The ones that include NYC also claim some New Jersey, maybe a little Pennsylvania, Long Island, etc.
In each of these MSAs, There are absolutely more young, single men than young, single women. This is true across America, almost without exception (single women outnumber men in maybe a half-dozen cities). Extra single men was a clear trend everywhere, so there was no reason to look closer, right?
Fast forward to seven years later: earlier this month I was asked to give a pre-Valentines Day talk about my depressing singles map at GeoNYC, a super cool group of mapping folks. Since they were all New Yorkers, I thought, why not break the singles down by ZIP code and give them a little something more to chew on?
I think the correct phrase for this situation is “and you won’t believe what happened next.”
See all that pink? That’s more single women. The tiny, fleeting pieces of blue are majority single men. Single women are dominating Manhattan. East Village? Women. West Village? Women. Upper East? Women. Upper West? Women.
Men have a couple holdouts, with the blue chunk on the left and the one at the bottom. The one on the left is Hell’s Kitchen – commenter Steve wrote in to say “in the past few years it has become a hub of the gay community which is why it’s all young single guys. It’s what Chelsea once was.” As for the one on the bottom, I spend a lot of time down under that side of the Manhattan bridge, and while it looks like the Lower East Side I can tell you this: All of those single men are living in Chinatown.
Let’s hop across the East River for a moment – in the 20-34 range up above, Williamsburg has a few more men and Greenpoint has a few more ladies, but if we adjust down to 20-29 the picture changes a wee bit.
Greenpoint and Williamsburg are lady central! Hip, single, straight, female twentysomethings: You are doomed. I’ll leave Bushwick as an exercise to the reader.
Going back to the Chinatown-makes-Lower-Manhattan-blue observation, let’s examine the Outer Boroughs to see if we can find a trend…
The male-heavy areas have a very clear theme: ① is Jackson Heights, where you have a large number of South Asian immigrants (and NYC’s oldest gay community). ② is Flushing (a. k.a. Queens Chinatown), ③ is Brooklyn Chinatown and ④, if you’ll allow me a large degree of geographic wiggle room, is Brighton Beach, with a large number of immigrants from Russia (and others).
Brownstone Brooklyn, the closest my borough has to a Manhattan, is ⑤, sporting about 20% more women than men.
As far as I can tell, New York City as a whole only has more single men than single women because of immigrant communities. Apologies, single ladies of Manhattan, but East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.
I haven’t talked about ⑥ yet, the strongest outpost for single women in almost the entire map: Brownsville. The trend spreads out to Bed Stuy and East New York, and continues down through Flatbush and other predominantly African-American areas of Brooklyn. While I could take wild guesses at causation, I’ll leave that up to people with more knowledge of socioeconomic realities. Definitely worth a look, though.
Other things I don’t know about include the Bronx and Staten Island. The Bronx has a ton of single women, while Staten Island is roughly nothing but men. Can we set them up, please?
Here’s what I do know: if you Manhattan ladies are willing to pack up your U-Haul, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll have some good news (and another map or two) for you tomorrow – hop on our newsletter to be sure you don’t miss it!
If you just can’t wait, here’s a sneak preview: our arch-nemesis Silicon Valley is looking Blue as the sky.