Long Island Population

Science Center Objects

About 7.56 million people lived on Long Island in 2010. Of these, about 2.50 million are in Kings County, 2.23 million in Queens County, 1.34 million in Nassau County, and 1.49 million in Suffolk County.

During the first two decades of the 20th century, population growth on Long Island, in terms of both rate and magnitude, was greatest in Kings County (figures 3A-3B). At that time, Kings County was characterized mainly by multiple-family dwellings and was moderately industrialized; Queens County was largely suburban, and Nassau and Suffolk Counties were rural. In the next decade (the 1920's), the largest increase in population occurred in Queens County (figure 3C), mainly as a result of the extension of the rapid transit system into the county, the concurrent increase in construction of multiple-family dwellings, and the moderate growth of industry in the area (Cohen and others, 1968).


population graph

Long Island population graph 1900-2010 - Total population per county(Public domain.)


population graph

Long Island Kings County population graph 1900-2010(Public domain.)


population graph

Population graph Queens County 1900-2010(Public domain.)

population graph

Population graph Nassau County 1900-2010(Public domain.)

population graph

Population graph Suffolk County 1900-2010(Public domain.)

Figure 3A-E: Graph of decadal population from 1900-2010 for a) Long Island; b) Kings County; c) Queens County; d) Nassau County and e) Suffolk County.

Source: http://www.census.gov/prod/www/decennial.html

Beginning soon after the end of the Second World War and extending into the late 1940's and the 1950's, marked suburban expansion into Nassau County caused a dramatic increase in the population of that county (figure 3D). The wave of suburban expansion, characterized mainly by large-scale developments of single-family homes, has been moving eastward with time. As a result, the population of central and eastern Nassau County increased rapidly in the mid 1950's. In 1980, the population in Nassau County decreased over 7% and from 1990-2010 the average rate of increase was about 6,000 per decade. The population of western Suffolk County began to increase markedly from 1950 to 1960 and increased over 141%. The second largest concurrent decadal increase occurred between 1960 and 1970 when the population increased over 61%. In 1980 the population of Suffolk County surpassed that of Nassau County. The population of Suffolk County has more than doubled from 1960 to 2010 however, from 1990-2010 the average rate of increase was about 70,000 per decade (figure 3E).

The present (2010) population density on Long Island ranges from very dense in the western part to sparse in the eastern parts (figure 4). The pattern of population density mainly reflects the gradual eastward transition from the highly urban communities characterized by high-rise apartment buildings in Kings County, to the suburban communities in Nassau and western Suffolk Counties, and finally to the rural areas in eastern Suffolk County. Along with the general pattern of progressive eastward decrease in population density there has been a trend of preferential urbanization along the north and south shores. 

population density graph

Map of 2010 population density calculated from U.S. Census data using block group areas.(Public domain.)

As urban development changes the immediate areas of land use, effects throughout the local environment can be observed. Losses of undeveloped land have direct impacts on the physical, biological, and social resources of an area. Once agricultural land is lost in a given area, its food production potential is also likewise diminished. Between 1970 and 1990, metro New York's population grew only 5 percent, but consumed 61 percent more land, (McMahon, Edward T., 1997, "Stopping Sprawl by Growing Smarter"). Often quality of life issues and cultural changes occur to the human population as result of this transformation. Population increases the demands for fresh water. Culture changes demand more water, land, and transportation per person. 

Source: USGS Land Cover Institute

Changes in land use may have equally dramatic effects on local natural resources, as well as the human and physical ecology. Human induced changes to stormwater drainage affect aquatic habitats through changes in stream runoff (more rapid response to precipitation, higher discharges, and longer lasting peak flow events), water quality (temperature and contaminants), and diminished recharge to the water table (which affects water supplies for existing communities). The culture is also altered because lifestyles are changed as suburban growth encroaches on small towns and agriculture communities.

The USGS Urban Dynamics Research Team documented urban extent through time to evaluate land use/land cover changes and assess the impact of development. They prepared datasets showing over 60 years of urban change, from 1928 to 1993. Within the New York Metropolitan region, urban annotation and digitization for 1930's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, and 1990's, have been completed for a 29 county area; and are presented in the animation below.


    animated gif showing urban change in NYC

    Urban change in New York Metro area from 1930's to 1990's(Public domain.)



    Table of Contents

    State of the Aquifer, Long Island, New York - Introduction

    Location and Physical Setting


    1. Hydrolgeologic Units
    2. Fresh and Saltwater Relations/Interactions

    State of the Aquifer System

    1. Precipitation
    2. NWIS - the USGS Data Archive 
    3. Surface Water - Streamflow
    4. Groundwater Levels
    5. Water Table and Surface Maps
    6. Water Use
    7. Groundwater Budget
    8. Inflow to the Groundwater System
    9. Outflow from the Groundwater System
    1. Case Studies

    Interactive Content