On Places & Travel

Rolling up the Sidewalks

When I’m traveling, I always find it super-creepy when a bustling downtown turns into a ghost-town at night. Sidewalks should always have people on them, I say. In various different positions.

Most places in the United States, though, are subject to this spine-tingling effect. In many places, daytime population is higher than nighttime population, as commuters flow in to do their thing, and then flee for home at night.

In some places, the effect is more pronounced than others. For example, 30,000 people come to work in Lake Buena Vista Florida, but there are only four full-time residents. (And you have to wonder about who they are.)  Other places that bring the crowds by day but drive them out each night: Teterboro, NJ, East Garden City, NY, Tysons Corner, Va. Beverly Hills also has a similar dynamic: 45,000 people live there, 90,000 people work there. So that’s one thing that Beverly Hills shares with Teterboro, at least.

In a very few places across the country, though, there’s more of a vampire dynamic: daylight drives the throngs away. So either these places are packed with the un-dead, or, the residents who leave for work each day don’t hire people in great numbers to manage things while they are out. In Aurora, Colorado, for instance, the population drops by 18%, or 50,000 people during daylight hours. Other vampire towns: Mesa, Arizona; Long Beach, California; Arlington, Texas, and Virginia Beach, Virgina. 

(You can have fun with the Census data in Excel format here. )

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4 thoughts on “Rolling up the Sidewalks

  1. You probably know this already, but I just wanted to pitch in:

    * Lake Buena Vista is the synthetic “municipality” near Orlando that consists only of Disney theme parks. Like South of the Border, SC, it was incorporated by a corporation so they could have control over local zoning, etc. I’m pretty sure the four full-time residents are Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Goofy.

    * Tyson’s Corner is a business district in the highly populated county of Fairfax, VA. Plenty of people live nearby, and at night I’m sure they go to the movie theaters and restaurants at Tyson’s, but they don’t live there – it’s pretty much a commercial district.

    * Beverly Hills, like Tyson’s Corner, is another situation where a strange incorporation situation leads to a neighborhood being tagged as a city. I don’t think many people would consider Beverly Hills to be any more of a city than the Upper East Side is, but the totally insane layout of Los Angeles County leads to legal weirdnesses like the “City of West Hollywood.”

    None of this disproves anything you’re saying, I just wanted to add context.

  2. Thanks, Sascha! I’m most fascinated by the four full-time residents of the Disney World World, and I’ve been wondering what their lives are like. (I’d briefly thought they could be homeless, but the Census doesn’t work that way.)

  3. While counting Pluto as a resident is debatable (he’s technically a pet while Goofy is actually counted more as a “human”–it disturbs me that I’m thinking about this) but anyway, I would love to know who the four residents are. I wonder if there are night guards at the park who have some sort of dorm or something within the park confines. I must know. Alison–off to Disney World with you.

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