White Plains Demographics

White Plains (WP) today is a “diverse” community but has not always been. Census reporting gives the best way to examine the changes.

WP’s first settlers came from Rye in 1683 and were English Puritans.  The first US census of 1790, recorded WP with a total population of 550. This number included 40 slaves. In 1820, WP had 675 residents of which 63 were free blacks and 8 slaves. After 1827, slavery ended in NY and the Census  recorded a population of 2,630.

The population of WP grew after the NY and Harlem Railroad reached WP on Dec 1, 1844. The population in 1880 was 2,381 and went up 60.8% by 1890 to 4,042.  By 1900, the population had increased by 90.5 % to 15,045. The Harlem rail line to WP became electrified by 1910 and a second rail line the NY, Westchester and Boston Railway opened in 1912. This line ran through the center of WP from its southern border with Scarsdale to Westchester Ave (where Nordstrom is today). The train companies advertised the availability of affordable lots where one could build a home. They also offered deals for weekly committing options and the attractiveness of area for permanent leisure living and for shorter vacations (holidays, summers and weekends).   

In 1920, WP had 21,031 residents. By this time, WP had other forms of faster more convenient modes of transport with buses (replacing trolleys) and cars. The NY, Westchester Boston railway closed in 1937. In 1930, WP’s          population was 35,830. The NY Westchester Boston railroad stopped running in 1937 but had no affect on the population. In 1940, WP had 40,327 and in 1950 43,466. Winbrook Apartments (now named Brookfield Commons) opened in 1950 giving the WP low income housing choices.

The population of WP increased to 50,485 by 1960 and though the Cross Westchester opened the population in WP decreased. A major urban renewal project began in the core area of the Business District with demolition beginning around 1966 and continued till 1980. Eliminated in the Business District were blocks of structures containing housing and businesses. As a result, many African Americans and Italians left the city. By 1970,  the population had decreased .3% to 50,125 and by 1980 it fell to 46,999. City had more low income rental housing choices in areas outside the Business District but it was still hard for Blacks (and others) to secure loans for home ownership and to purchase single family houses in WP. 

By 1980, much of the Business District had been transformed and the number of residents began to increase again. By 1990 the population had increased to 48,718.

By 2000, WP had 53,077 residents. The racial break down was 34,465 White(64.9%), 8,444 Black or African American (15.9%), 182 American Indian/Alaskan Natives (.3%), 2,389 Asian (4.5%),  37 Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (.1%), 5,502 from other races (10.4%) and 2,058 from 2 or more races (3.9%). Of the total, 12,476 or 23.5% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

By 2010, the population was 56,853. The city’s racial make-up:  White 36,178 (63.6%), 8,070 Black or African Americans 8,070, 394 American Indian/Alaska Native (.7%), 3,623 Asian (6.4%), 20 Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (less than .1%), 6,324 of other races (11.1%) and 2,224 from 2 or more races (3.9%). Of that, 16,839 are Hispanic or Latino of any race (29.6%).

Demographics is important in shaping our communities, economy, and culture but one’s identity in any given group should not diminish any other. Feelings often get in the way of how we perceive others and cloud our openness to see how others experience the world.

Population estimates are projected by US Census Bureau and this and other information is available on the website: http://www.census.gov. Estimate for 2017 (in July) is 59,047 residents.

*Data from US Census Bureau American FactFinder for 2000 and 2010.