There’s a medium length but not very informative article today titled Everybody Inhale: How Many People Can Manhattan Hold? Very speculatively, if Manhattan remains one of the premier cities in the world into the post-human future, perhaps trillions.
But I mostly use this as an excuse to harp on an old point, closer to home. How many people can San Francisco hold? Oakland? Currently these places are horribly underpopulated, semi-rural outposts, with populations of 805,235 (6,632.9/km2) and 390,724 (2,704.2/km2) respectively. At current Manhattan (27,394/km2) and Brooklyn (14,037/km2) densities respectively, San Francisco’s population would be 3,325,635 and Oakland’s 2,028,175.
That’s right, Brooklyn is twice as dense as San Francisco: this isn’t about skyscrapers.
Considering the immense benefits of density for both creativity and energy efficiency, it is a horrible shame that there does not exist a reasonably dense city in the U.S. outside of New York. Autonomous vehicles will be the next chance to significantly reconfigure cities, not least by vastly reducing the amount of space needed for cars. There are a couple obvious ways to get started in that direction now. Whether a city makes good on this opportunity for reconfiguration will globally be the most significant determinant of success or failure in the coming decades. Pity it is getting zero attention relative to circuses.