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Census data: South Boston population grew 12 percent from 2000

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  April 6, 2011 12:00 PM

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South Boston’s population grew nearly 12-percent over the past decade, according to census data recently released by the city.

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Select a neighborhood below from the dropdown to see a breakdown of Census statistics.

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Between 2000 and 2010, South Boston grew by 3,686 residents to 35,200 residents, according to figures the Boston Redevelopment Authority compiled from U.S Census Bureau data.

Figures grew nearly across the demographic board. The Hispanic/Latino segment rose by 1,249 residents, or 48.9 percent; the white population increased by 1,201 residents, or 4.68 percent; the census counted 717, or 45.9 percent, more Black/African American residents in South Boston last year than a decade ago, and the Asian demographic grew by 477 residents, or 40.4 percent.

In 2000, 86.5 percent of the neighborhood's population was white, which dropped to 76.3 percent in 2010, the census showed.

Boston’s population grew by 4.8 percent in the past decade to hit 617,594. The Hub remained a “majority-minority” city as 53 percent of residents are of a non-white race/ethnicity while 47 percent are white. In Boston, 47 percent of residents are white, 22.3 percent are Black/African American, 17.5 percent are Hispanic/Latino, and 8.8 percent are Asian.

While Boston gained over 41,000 people age 18 years and older, the city lost around 13,000 residents under 18. The 11-percent drop was among the more notable statistics for research director at Boston think-tank MassINC Benjamin Forman.

“There’s no question that family households have been replaced by people without kids,” he said, adding that a trend of fleeing families can often be a sign of gentrification.

The portion of residents 18 years or older in Boston grew in all but five neighborhoods; in South Boston it grew from 82.7 to 87.1 percent. Citywide, that ratio grew from 80 to 83 percent.

The total number of South Boston housing units rose over the past 10 years by 17.2 percent – the city’s second-highest rate over that span – to 17,623. Meanwhile, vacancies in South Boston climbed from 6.6 to 8 percent of the neighborhood’s total housing stock.

Citywide, housing grew by around 25,000 units, or 8 percent, however, vacancies also rose by 60 percent. Around 5 percent of Boston homes were empty in 2000; in 2010, around 7.25 percent of housing was vacant.

Boston’s neighborhoods have no officially-defined boundaries, according to the BRA. In order to sort census data by neighborhood, the city department said it used a combination of ZIP codes and zoning boundaries to define each neighborhood’s borders.

While the neighborhoods the city has mapped out for census number crunching by-and-large match how most perceive Boston’s configuration, the city acknowledged some may dispute how the BRA has defined where neighborhoods begin and end.

"Everyone has their own definition of ‘their’ neighborhood -- the best part about Boston is there is such pride in the question -- and therefore there are no official boundaries because if there were, we'd have 617,594 different opinions,” said spokeswoman Susan Elsbree.

The department plans to release additional maps and is also fielding individual requests to have data provided based on customized neighborhood boundaries.

To simplify city data analyzed for this report, grouped, as follows, smaller neighborhoods and districts into other, larger areas creating a total of 18 city subsections: Beacon Hill includes the West End; Downtown includes Chinatown and the Leather District; Roxbury includes Mission Hill and the Longwood Medical Area; South Boston includes the South Boston Waterfront; and the South End includes Bay Village. The Harbor Islands – with a combined population of 640 and 535 residents during the 2000 and 2010 census, respectively – were not used in this analysis.

However, raw data is still available here for each smaller neighborhood, district and islands that the BRA defined.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at

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