[All graphics: LSE Cities]
London’s just reached a new peak in population – there are now 8.6 million of us, to be exact – and the notion that London is getting overcrowded has gained some currency. But is that really true?
Well, compared to the dreaded suburbs, there’s no question. But compared to the world’s other major cities, it turns out we have an embarrassing abundance of personal space.
The maps above, from LSE Cities 2011 study, show the residential density of various cities. Hong Kong tops out at a ridiculous 111,065 people per km2, NYC’s peak density is 58,000 pp/km2, while London’s is a mere 17,342 pp/km2. Just look at our stunted little green bars in the bottom-right there – it’s a wonder we ever see other humans at all.
As CityMetric points out in its article on the topic, our average population density is even lower. Our busiest borough (Islington, at 13,886 peeps per km2) is way emptier than the average Parisian arrondissement, at 21,500 pp/km2, or one of Barcelona’s neighbourhoods, at 28,500 pp/km2.
That’s not to suggest, of course, that we ought to immediately create a concrete forest of forbidding high-rises. But it does demonstrate why planners feel London can cope with a bit more vertical building in order to squeeze people in. And it’s probably worth remembering that if London already feels too busy to bear, your gripe might not be with London, as such, but big cities in general. It turns out this is about as tranquil as it gets.
More stats for number fans:
✚ Here’s where London’s second languages are spoken
✚ The ten most unhappy places in Britain are all in London
✚ What the UK looks like divided into London-sized regions
✚ Six infographics reveal the truth of London life