The graying of Manhattan

Photo: Steven Strasser
Surging senior populations are reshaping the Upper West and Upper East Sides — but the under-65 tally is waning on both sides of the park, new data shows

The census of Upper West Side seniors has skyrocketed over the past decade: There are now 41,194 adults north of age 65, a stunning climb of 44 percent.

In the same period, between 2007 and 2017, the older population in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen shot up 38 percent and the number of Upper East Siders in that age bracket rose 31 percent.

Contrast those tallies with the citywide and statewide figures, where the growth in the over-65 set, while still robust, was a much smaller 24 and 26 percent respectively.

Another yardstick to gauge the explosive increase in the elderly census is the number of the very old, age 85 and over, which rose 20 percent in the city and 26 percent in the state over 10 years, according to a new report from the Center for an Urban Future, a research institute.

But those figures are dwarfed among Upper West Siders: As of 2017, there were 4,898 residents aged 85 and above, up from 3,197 in 2007, a leap of 53 percent, a CUF data analysis of Manhattan neighborhoods prepared at the request of Straus News found.

“There are more residents aged 65 and above in Manhattan than there are people under the age of 19 — that is the largest spread of any county in the state, by far,” according to the think tank’s report, “New York’s Older Adult Population is Booming Statewide.”

On the other side of the spectrum, the number of residents below age 65 is stagnating or shrinking. Over the past decade, the city’s non-senior population managed only a two percent increase, while the tally in Manhattan actually declined by 2 percent, the CUF report found.

Decreases on both sides of the park were even more dramatic:

The under-65 population of the UWS dropped to 165,836 in 2017 from 185,747 in 2007, a steep falloff of 11 percent. During the same period on the UES, it fell to 172,042 from 186,015, a decline of eight percent, the data shows.

“New York’s population is rapidly graying,” said Jonathan Bowles, the Center’s executive director. “In every corner of the state, older adults are driving most if not all of the growth.”

Added Beth Finkel, the state director of AARP, which helped fund the report, “These eye-popping numbers are a wake-up call to address the needs of our fast-aging population.”