If a guy somewhere in Asia makes a blog and no one reads it, does it really exist?

Tuesday, June 8

Honolulu vs. LA, San Fran, Sacramento...and Herndon

Here are some interesting statistics taken from City-data.com.

Races in Honolulu:
Japanese (23.3%)
White Non-Hispanic (18.7%)
Two or more races (14.9%)
Filipino (11.6%)
Chinese (10.7%)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (6.8%)
Hispanic (4.4%)
Other Asian (4.3%)
Korean (4.2%)
Black (1.6%)
Vietnamese (1.6%)
American Indian (1.4%)
Other race (0.9%)
(Total can be greater than 100% because Hispanics could be counted in other races)
Ancestries: German (4.6%), English (3.8%), Irish (3.4%), Portuguese (2.2%), Italian (1.5%), French (1.3%).

Compare with Los Angeles:
Hispanic (46.5%)
White Non-Hispanic (29.7%)
Other race (25.7%)
Black (11.2%)
Two or more races (5.2%)
Filipino (2.7%)
Korean (2.5%)
Chinese (1.7%)
American Indian (1.4%)
Japanese (1.0%)
Other Asian (0.9%)
Asian Indian (0.7%)
Vietnamese (0.5%)
Ancestries: German (4.5%), Irish (3.8%), English (3.5%), Italian (2.6%), United States (2.6%), Russian (2.4%).

San Francisco:
White Non-Hispanic (43.6%)
Chinese (19.6%)
Hispanic (14.1%)
Black (7.8%)
Other race (6.5%)
Filipino (5.2%)
Two or more races (4.3%)
Other Asian (1.5%)
Japanese (1.5%)
Vietnamese (1.4%)
American Indian (1.2%)
Korean (1.0%)
Asian Indian (0.7%)
Ancestries: Irish (8.9%), German (7.7%), English (6.1%), Italian (5.0%), Russian (2.8%), French (2.3%).

And Sacramento, which, according to this article in TIME magazine, is "America's most diverse city":
White Non-Hispanic (40.5%)
Hispanic (21.6%)
Black (15.5%)
Other race (11.0%)
Two or more races (6.4%)
Other Asian (5.2%)
Chinese (4.8%)
American Indian (2.8%)
Filipino (2.1%)
Japanese (1.6%)
Vietnamese (1.5%)
Asian Indian (1.2%)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (0.9%)
Ancestries: German (8.4%), Irish (6.8%), English (6.3%), Italian (3.8%), United States (3.1%), French (2.1%).

Look closely at the percentages for Asians. The differences are striking.

And just in case you're interested, here are the statistics for my "hometown" of Herndon, VA:
White Non-Hispanic (47.0%)
Hispanic (26.0%)
Other race (13.0%)
Black (9.5%)
Two or more races (5.3%)
Asian Indian (5.2%)
Other Asian (3.5%)
Vietnamese (1.8%)
Chinese (1.3%)
Filipino (1.2%)
American Indian (1.0%)
Korean (0.7%)

Surprisingly multi-ethnic, I thought, for a town of 21,000.

When considering these statistics, however, one should keep in mind the total population of these cities. What I mean is, a 4.2% Korean population in Honolulu, a city of 371,657 people, comes to 15,609 people. A 2.5% Korean population in Los Angeles, a city of 3,694,820, comes to 92,370 people. That's a lot more Koreans.

Percentages alone can be deceiving. For example, the city I live in now, Beppu, Japan, has a population of just 126,854 people. Yet, thanks to its high number of foreign university students, it boasts the second highest percentage of foreigners in Japan. (First place goes to Tokyo, of course.)

But then there's also the city's land area to consider: 85.7 sq. km. for Honolulu vs. 469 sq. km. for LA. And perhaps more importantly, population density: 1,674.4/km² (Honolulu) vs. 3,041/km² (LA).

Compare with Hong Kong, which has a population density of 6,700/km². Okay, okay, now I'm obsessed with population density.

From Wikipedia: "Despite the population density, Hong Kong was reported to be one of the greenest cities in Asia. The majority of people live in flats in high-rise buildings. The rest of the open spaces are often covered with parks, woods and shrubs. The vertical placement of the population explains why densely populated, green city is not an oxymoronic phrase."

I think this is how people should live. Screw big houses with big yards to mow. Wanna play frisbee? Go to the nice park down the street that's maintained by your tax money. Wanna take a trip? Take advantage of the efficient and affordable public transportation system that exists thanks to the high population density.

But with all those high buildings around, I wonder if you'd be playing frisbee in the shade?

Why doesn't Honolulu have a rail system? Because the population is not high enough or dense enough to support one. A light rail system running from Ewa to Downtown has been on the drawing board for years, but no matter how they juggle the numbers, the fact is that it would be a monumental financial disaster. Even the oft-showcased BART system in San Francisco has apparently done little to reduce traffic congestion in the city.

In contrast to the crowded streets of even the most rural areas of Japan, the traffic in Singapore was always moving at a good clip. It could have just been the time of day, but I got the distinct impression that the road system there was very well planned out.

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