Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, May 21, 2021

We already knew about more people doing the daily two-hour ride on the Metro-North trains into New York. But regularly commuting from south of Trenton?

That’s the size of it for some workers, as their residential migration is expanding the definition of “New York City metro area”.

Interstate 84, which crosses southern Dutchess County just above the Putnam County line, used to be considered the boundary for most commuters to New York, said William J. Lavery, a regional vice president in Houlihan Lawrence’s Dutchess County offices. But that is no longer the case…

Orange County, northwest of Westchester on the other side of the Hudson River, has also become an alternative for prospective homeowners, among them police officers and firefighters who have been priced out of markets closer to Manhattan, said Greg Rand, the managing partner in Prudential Rand Realty, which has offices in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties. “Seven years ago,” Mr. Rand said, “Orange was just a rural upstate county, not a bedroom community for New York City. But then people saw what they could buy in Orange for the money, and they changed their thinking.” The median price in Orange at the end of 2005 was $320,000.

I grew up in Orange County; I object to the “rural” description. There’s plenty of farmland, but not much more than you’d find in Westchester or Nassau. Of course, from a five-boroughs perspective, any non-park area with more than three acres of green space is considered “rural”.

I always assumed the northern migration of City denizens was nothing new. A few of my cousins in the area used to do the train commute years ago, and it was considered fairly standard practice for many professions. I guess the trend has accelerated of late, in a large way:

In order to serve the increasing numbers of commuters from Orange County, which used to be considered “never-never land,” Mr. Brucker, the Metro-North spokesman, said, the railroad has contracted with New York Waterways for 10-minute ferry service across the Hudson from Newburgh to Beacon, and back again in the evening. Riders now number 280 a day, up from 200 when service began in January.

Beacon, on the Harlem Line, is one of the fastest-growing stations in the Metro-North system, Mr. Brucker said, in large part reflecting the increasing numbers of people commuting from Orange. Beacon now has 1,330 customers a day, he said, 45 percent from Orange, and ridership to Manhattan is up 50 percent from five years ago. The first ferry leaves Newburgh at 5:40 on weekday mornings; in Beacon, passengers can connect with a southbound train and arrive at Grand Central at 7:17 a.m.

All this plays into the increasing exurbization of not-quite-upstate New York. I’d previously made note of this dynamic a couple of times: Proposals to bulk up Stewart International Airport into NYC’s fourth major airport, and the changing face of older bedroom communities in the face of outward migration from city centers. The landscape is altering. One plus: Maybe Orange and Dutchess will lose the “upstate” tag soon, which was always ill-fitting (when I told people I was from “upstate New York”, they often assume Rochester or Buffalo…).

So much for what’s doing up the Hudson River. New York’s gravitational pull extends south, too. So far south that it’s weird:

Michael Galdi, an agent for Century 21 Advantage Gold in Philadelphia, is feeling some of that ripple. Commuters are buying row houses and multifamily houses in the Northwood and Castor Gardens sections of the city. From there, they can take elevated trains downtown, where they can change to Amtrak trains headed for Manhattan, or they can drive to work.

Translation: People living in Philly are commuting to Manhattan.

Wha?

I never imagined that could be possible, even with the trains and buses. I can understand moving out to less-populated areas for cheaper house values, and not being able to find a big-city job in your neighborhood. But wouldn’t you assume that Philly had a job market that could compete with New York’s, at least somewhat? I can’t believe someone would move all the way down there and continue to schlep to Penn Station or Grand Central. I’d bet those who made the move have started looking for jobs inside their own city’s limits.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/21/2006 06:31:35 PM
Category: Society, New Yorkin' | Permalink |

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  1. I know one person who commutes from Bucks County, PA (north of Philly) to New York, though she says it’s a temporary arrangement until her employer gets around to opening a Philadelphia office.

    Comment by CGHill — 05/21/2006 @ 08:56:12 PM

  2. “Gets around to opening a Philadelphia office”? Let’s hope that’s not as open-ended as it sounds…

    Part of the de-pressurizer is the prospect of working from home one or two days a week. Obviously not always an option, but for a lot of white-collar jobs, it can make the commute more palatable if it’s only for 3-4 days a week.

    Comment by CT — 05/23/2006 @ 10:20:22 AM

  3. Probably by mid-summer, I’ll guess.

    Comment by CGHill — 05/23/2006 @ 09:45:39 PM

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    Trackback by Population Statistic — 06/04/2021 @ 09:01:12 PM

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    Trackback by Population Statistic — 09/06/2021 @ 06:59:47 PM

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