Recently, a programming guru at MIT, Brandon Martin-Anderson decided to make a map of every person in the US Census- all 300+ million of us. The map assigns a dot for every person to the Census Block they live in, and then displays it. You can see the interactive map here, zoomed to a level that shows Hillsborough, Durham, Carrboro and Chapel Hill, mostly. Anderson has since added Canada and Mexico Census data as well.
Here’s a slightly more zoomed-in look at our neck of the woods. The main commercial section of Franklin Street is shown in blue.
If you look at the Chapel Hill / Carrboro map long enough, you’ll notice a few things:
- There’s a “core” of population density (circled in red) that includes the UNC campus, the MLK corridor about halfway between Foster’s Market and Estes Drive, West Carrboro’s apartment complexes along NC 54 and Smith Level Road, and Southern Village.
- The large white spaces in the center of both Chapel Hill and Carrboro are contiguous Census Blocks that are dominated by employment and not residents, so they appear to be empty. They simply have few or zero residents. In 2020, projects like Greenbridge, 140 West, 300 East Main and Shelton Station should change these blocks a good deal.
- There are some other denser clusters of population near Eastowne/Sage Rd/Erwin Rd and at some apartment complexes on MLK near Timberlyne.
- Southern Village is clearly more dense than Meadowmont.
- Suburban Carrboro is generally a little more dense than suburban Chapel Hill.
If we further zoom in on Carrboro, and match the dots up to a street map, you can also see that the densest neighborhoods in town are Abbey Court/Collins Crossing condominiums, and generally the entire area bounded by Jones Ferry Rd, Barnes St, and NC 54; Estes Park Apts, the entire area bounded by NC 54 and Old Fayetteville Rd; and the apartment complexes along Smith Level Rd close to Carrboro High School.