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Introduction: This report examines demographic and socioeconomic factors concerning New York City based Latinos in Washington Heights and Inwood – particularly Dominicans.

Methods: Data on Latinos and other racial/ethnic groups were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, reorganized for public use by the Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota, IPUMSusa. Cases in the dataset were weighted and analyzed to produce population estimates.

Results: Since the 1980s the upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights/Inwood has been transformed by the immigration of a large Latino population of whom Dominicans have been the most prominent national group. Latinos made up 67% of WH/IN population in 1990; 74% in 2000; and 73% in 2005. Dominicans moved into the neighborhood in large numbers during the 1980s and 1990s and after 2000 accounted for more than 50% of the neighborhood’s total population and more than 70% of all Latinos in the district. The annual median household income of all WH/IN residents has increased considerably from 1990 to 2005. In 1990 it was $25,271; $34,800 in 2000; and $39,422 in 2005. These data indicate a major acceleration in the yearly rate of median household income growth after 2000.

Discussion: There has been much recent debate about whether ‘gentrification’ and rising housing costs displaces poorer extant residents or creates conditions for an amelioration of their lives because of better security, diminishing crime rates, enhanced job opportunities, and other improvements in the quality of life in ‘gentrified’ neighborhoods. It is too early in the process of transformation of WH/IN to arrive at any definitive conclusions on the impact of the social, economic, and demographic changes now underway. It is also not clear that a process of ‘gentrification’ is in fact occurring and if so how it is impacting the people of the community.


For additional information about this collection see

Citation information: Bergad, L. (2008). Washington Heights/Inwood Demographic, Economic, and Social Transformations 1990 – 2005 with a Special Focus on the Dominican Population. New York, NY: Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center.



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