The median income in west downtown Salt Lake City is $34,167 a year, but just a few blocks over its a mere $21,226. Drive up to the very top of the Avenues, and it soars to $188,750.
That data comes from a fascinating new heat map from WNYC, a public radio station in New York City. The map covers the entire U.S. and uses census data to show median household incomes by census tract.
The map is useful for getting a sense of the U.S. as a whole — big metro areas, especially on the coasts, tend to have higher incomes — as well as how different parts of an individual city compare. In Salt Lake City, for example, the Ballpark neighborhood has the lowest median income, at a mere $20,438. The upper Avenues have highest, but the top of Capitol Hill isn’t far behind at $105,855.
Zoom out a bit, and the map gives an interesting overview of development patterns along the Wasatch Front. Downtowns — whether in Salt Lake, Ogden or Provo — all tend to have lower incomes while the surrounding suburban neighborhoods and cities have higher incomes. That pattern is presumably the result of decades of migration from city cores to sprawling developments on the periphery; those who could afford to move out did, opting to drive to employment centers rather than live in them. That trend has begun to swing back in some places — Manhattan, for example, unsurprisingly has swaths of wealth — but in Utah sleeper communities still define the urban fabric.
But that may be changing; Salt Lake City is actively working to add housing to downtown, and appears to be succeeding with projects like City Creek and The Gateway. And since many of these developments are condos, median incomes in downtown Salt Lake City may be somewhat higher relative to the surrounding community by the time the next census rolls around.
— Jim Dalrymple II
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