No, The Average Resident of Williamsburg Is Not Rich

Yesterday, Matt Buchanan of The Awl wrote,

Whether the Williamsburg you know ended with Diner in 1998-1999 or Marlow & Sons in 2004 or the Wythe Hotel in 2012 (or whichever milestone you prefer!), the average human living in Williamsburg is now, officially, a rich person—and a young one, at that.

Buchanan bases his post on a June 12 article from The Wall Street Journal (which, incidentally, referenced a post of ours).

Buchanan’s assertion that Williamsburg has become “San Williamsisco” relies on the following datum, which comes from Geoff Bailey of SCG Retail: “[Bailey] noted a firm analysis finding that Williamsburg residents are now on average 25 to 35 years old with per capita income of $108,000 a year.”

That’s true, if “Williamsburg” means “only certain parts of Williamsburg.” We asked Bailey if his firm’s survey included all of Williamsburg. His answer: “absolutely not.” Bailey said the study reflects his target market – people who exercise at SoulCycle, who order salads from Sweetgreen, who get their groceries at Whole Foods.

When we look at the whole of Williamsburg, which is quite large, much larger, in fact, that the two or three block radius around the Wythe Hotel, we see a very different picture.

WNYC reported the median household income for Greenpoint and Williamsburg (the area covered by NYC CB1) from 2010-2012 was $47,229, up $2,643 from 2007-2009. The median household income across NYC for that same period was $54,057. North Williamsburg, City Data found, had a median household income in 2010 of $57,830. East Williamsburg’s was $43,547 and South Williamsburg’s was $34,749,

In fact, data released by the Department of Youth and Community Development in 2011 show that residents of Community School Board 14, which encompasses Williamsburg and Greenpoint, is home to more recipients of public assistance – that is, welfare – than any other part of the city, with .66% of all residents receiving assistance. A data map of poverty in the United States compiled by The New York Times also shows that areas of Williamsburg are some of the poorest in the borough, and the city.

There are rich people who live in Williamsburg, obviously. This is not news. Nor is it in any way surprising. Gentrification is doing its work. The neighborhood is becoming wealthier by the day. But rich people are not the only people who live in Williamsburg, nor is the average person who lives in Williamsburg rich. It’s not SoHo. Not yet, anyway.



  1. Rather than compare the ACS data for 2010-2012 with that from 2007-2009, you should compare current figures with numbers from before the rezoning; e.g.: the 2010 decennial census with the census from ten or even 20 years earlier. Certainly any comparison should be with pre-rezoning data. My guesstimate is median household income has increased $20- to $25,000 in Williamsburg since 1990.

    • Taylor Wofford says:


      Thanks for your comment. I agree with you that comparing numbers from before and after the rezoning would certainly show a bigger income gap. The point of this post wasn’t to show how much the median income has changed, but to dispute the WSJ’s ludicrous claim that the average resident of Williamsburg makes more than $100,000 a year.

  2. While some of this article points to a certain level of truth. Especially the long time residents that didnt move… yet. But for nearly all of the new residents to the neighbhorhood, they are in fact wealthy in one form or another. And using income is not a great gauge. That only shows the more recent changes to Williamsburg in perhaps the last 5 years. A large portion of the new residents (10 yrs or less) are not the high income earners but still largely from wealthy families. Yes, it is possible to make 40K a year and afford $2,000++ 1-br. It’s called parents/trust funds and a large majority of the housing costs are subsidized. So while on paper, some people have a 40K job, it does not count the additional $1,000+ per month income those people receive from other sources to pay their rent. This isnt an assumption, I am a board president in my building and see the numbers all the time…

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