DC Overcrowded: 1950 vs. 2013

by UrbanTurf Staff

DC Overcrowded: 1950 vs. 2013: Figure 1
11th and Kenyon Street NW, circa 1951. Courtesy of Ghosts of DC.

A recent Greater Greater Washington article uses science fiction and statistics to paint a picture of just how much more crowded and family-oriented DC used to be.

With the help of the 1951 film The Day The Earth Stood Still, author Payton Chung illustrates how 800,000 residents fit within the city’s borders back then. Below we plucked out a few interesting statistics, but the full article is worth your time.

  • Approximately 14 percent of the city’s housing units were considered overcrowded in 1950 (more than one person a room). In 2011, that number had dropped to 4.7%.
  • The population in DC dropped from approximately 800,000 in 1950 to 617,000 in 2011. GGW points out that the recent number would’ve been closer to 477,000 if almost 75,000 new housing units had not been built.
  • There were three times as many married households with children in 1960 as there were households with singles. Fifty years later, singles now outnumber married households 5.5 to 1.

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc_overcrowded_1950_vs._2013/7334


  1. Cheryl Walker said at 8:56 pm on Thursday July 18, 2013:
    DC has become gentrified. The entire area has changed because of this. Once dubbed a quiet, sleepy town, that's gone. And not for the better, another case of Urban Renewal. Be real, everyday people cannot afford to live in DC Proper anymore.
  1. Extraordinary Person said at 9:51 pm on Thursday July 18, 2013:
    ^^Thank God for that.
  1. hma said at 4:04 pm on Friday July 19, 2013:
    Sorry Cheryl, but convenience costs money. Living in the city within 30 minutes of work should cost more than living in the suburbs.
  1. ET said at 4:54 pm on Saturday July 20, 2013:
    I looked at my small townhouse in the 1940 Census. While it is 2 bedrooms now it was three then. Now it is just me, then there were 7 people living in it. And I agree with Cheryl. I am a government worker with a good salary but if I hadn't bought my townhouse on the Hill just before the boom not only couldn't I afford it now, but I couldn't afford to live anywhere close (and defining this as metro accessible in the Washington metro area) unless it was a one bedroom condo in northern VA or MD with a less that optimal (for me) location.

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