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Nashville-Davidson County population density


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Today at the forum meet, I shared with a few of you a map I have made that illustrates the population density of Davidson County to the Census tract level. Someone had the bright idea that I should scan it and share it with the rest of you, so here it is:


It might be a little hard to read the writing on the side, so I'll type it out here:

Brown represents a density of 7,500+ per square mile

Red represents a density of 5,000-7,500 per square mile

Red-Orange represents a density of 3,000-5,000 per square mile

Orange represents a density of 2,000-3,000 per square mile

Yellow represents a density of 1,000-2,000 per square mile

Green-Yellow represents a density of 750-1,000 per square mile

Green represents a density of 500-750 per square mile

Blue represents a density of 250-500 per square mile

Purple represents a density of less than 250 per square mile

The white areas represent the airport and Radnor Yard, where there is no population.

The thick black outline represents a contiguous group of Census tracts that have a density of at least 750 per square mile. I did this to illustrate that the developed portion of Davidson County contains more than 90% of the population in just over half of the land area. Because Nashville-Davidson County is a consolidated government, the entire county land (minus the small independent towns) is considered to be the city of Nashville, and therefore it severely distorts our population density.

I have heard numerous people point out how low our population density is compared to peer cities. Officially Davidson County has 626,681 people in 504 square miles, giving it a density of 1,243 per square mile (I'm using the county figures as a whole because some of the Census tracts are not drawn along municipal boundaries - for the city, there is a slight bump to 1,265 per square mile).

Anyhow, I broke down the county by density thresholds to give an idea about how dense the actual "city" area is, as well as the population numbers:

3,000+ density tracts (basically anything that is reddish) - non-contiguous

257,528 population (41.1% of county total)

58.66 square miles (11.6% of county total)

4,363 ppsm

2,000+ density tracts (orange to reddish) - two primary groupings: downtown/north/west/east/Vandy/G'Hills/Inglewood/Madison and Woodbine/Antioch/Southeast

355,012 population (56.6% of county total)

86.30 square miles (17.1% of county total)

4,114 ppsm

1,000+ density tracts (yellow to red) - contiguous...barely - defined by the smaller black line

528,354 population (84.3% of county total)

214.60 square miles (42.6% of county total)

2,462 ppsm

750+ density tracts (yellow-green to red) - very contiguous - defined by the thick black line

568,816 population (90.8% of county total)

263.55 square miles (52.3% of county total)

2,158 ppsm

I think the 750+ best represents the approximate population of Nashville if it had the more traditional boundaries rather than a metropolitan government. Some of the 750-1,000 tracts are developed, but largely industrial, so I think it would be more accurate to include them than to just cut off at 1,000+.

At 2,158 ppsm, that puts us more in line with some of the other sizeable Southern cities.

Atlanta - 3,154 ppsm

Tampa - 2,960 ppsm

Raleigh - 2,826 ppsm

Austin - 2,653 ppsm

Charlotte - 2,457 ppsm

Fort Worth - 2,181 ppsm

Memphis - 2,053 ppsm

New Orleans - 2,029 ppsm

Jacksonville would probably see a similar boost if it's developed boundaries were broken down like this as well. Louisville is still pretty high (1,837 ppsm) considering it is consolidated...but it is also a considerably smaller county.

One might think that this map and analysis sort of cherry picks the more dense portions of the county (because other Southern cities include low density areas that are either reserves, park land, or industrial land), but still, I say this is a much more accurate representation than including the vast north and west sides of Davidson County that are nearly undeveloped (purple region) that takes up more than 100 square miles.

Thoughts are certainly welcome.

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