The Census 2020 numbers came in for Boston last week, and in Charlestown the total population is up by 16 percent to numbers that resemble the population of the Town in the 1960 Census – though the diversity of Charlestown, unlike the rest of Boston, remained at the same percentages as in 2010.
The total population of the Town increased from 16,439 in 2010 to 19,120 residents counted in 2020. That number is close to the 1960 Census where Charlestown had 20,147 residents, but is still far off from the peak population in 1950 when there were 31,332 Charlestown residents.
Many in the Town have felt the growth in population over the past 10 years as development has picked up and new residents move into what is one of the most desirable neighborhoods for families and young people as well.
However, historically Charlestown’s 2020 population is only about in the middle of its historic population peak, and is really only starting to come out of the disastrous 1970s and 1980s when the population declined to 13,364. According to research by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), Charlestown lost 57.3 percent of its population between 1950 and 1980, and only started to increase in population significantly in the 2000 Census, when it registered 15,195 people.
Even with the vibrancy and growth of the neighborhood now, it’s still 12,000 people short of its peak numbers in 1950 and before.
The growth in 2020 did outpace the rest of Boston, which grew by 9.4 percent to 675,647 people citywide.
Boston’s rate of growth exceeded that of the Commonwealth and the nation, which both grew at 7.4 percent over the past decade. South Boston Waterfront is the Boston neighborhood that grew the fastest, growing 195 percent from just 1,889 in 2010 to 5,579 in 2020. According to the Census data, Allston’s population fell by 5.9 percent, with a 40 percent decline in the group quarters population. This suggests that the college dorm population of Allston may have been incorrectly counted in the wake of the pandemic.
Charlestown numbers showed that the 16 percent increase in population was not due to any particular race or ethnicity growing faster than another. In fact, while the numbers in most races increased over 2010, most – except the White population, stayed at the same percentages of the total population.
For instance, the Black population grew, but stayed at 5 percent of the population, and the Hispanic population grew but also stayed at 10 percent of the population. The Asian population grew but remained at 8 percent of the population. The White population did grow, but fell from 76 percent to 71 percent of the total population.
That is, of course, still much more divers than even in 1990 when the Town was 95 percent White, or in 1960 when it was 99.4 percent White.
Citywide, though, Boston grew fast in its diverse populations, especially amongst the Hispanic and Asian populations. The Hispanic population in Boston grew by 17 percent overall since 2010, and that group makes up 18.7 percent of the City’s total population. The Asian population citywide grew by 38 percent over 2010, and that racial group now makes up 11.2 percent of the City’s population. The White population citywide grew by 3.8 percent (44.6 percent total), but the Black population fell by 6.4 percent and makes up 19.1 percent of the total population now.
Charlestown did stand out in the fact that it’s numbers of youth outpace the City as a whole, with sad citywide news that the population of children in Boston has continued to erode and now only makes up 15 percent citywide. Charlestown, however, has an 18 percent youth population, and that’s noted in the vast amount of youth activities and crowded schools in the Town.
Housing statistics show that some 8,932 units of housing are occupied, and just 593 were vacant at the Census count. The average household size was 2.12 people per unit, which is about the average across all neighborhoods in the city, but below the overall City average.
Citywide, Boston had 301,702 total housing units in 2020, an increase of 10.7 percent from 2010. The number of housing units grew fastest in South Boston Waterfront, (281 percent since 2010), with 3,408 new units. Boston’s average household size fell slightly to 2.25. Boston’s group quarters population living in dorms, nursing homes, correctional facilities, and other institutions, increased slightly to 46,574 people. This number is about the same as 2010, making up 6.9 percent of Boston’s total population.
The full 2020 Census data is not scheduled to be released until 2022. The Research Division of the BPDA provides economic and demographic information for Boston and its neighborhoods.