This Map is a Powerful Illustration of the Wealth Gap in the U.S.

July 13th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

Want an idea of how income inequality is spread throughout the United States? Look no further than this map of American property values, which shows where our richest live and also illustrates the toughest places to be poor.

As Metrocosm's Max Galka notes, the country's property value is seriously concentrated. Half of the total value comes from only five states: "California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania, respectively." Galka looked at property value estimates from the Lincoln Institute, the NYC Department of Finance, and other sources to develop an interactive cartogram—a map that represents data across all 50 states and compares their relative, economic weight.

Maps such as the one below show how dense the market has become in the U.S., especially in contrast to New York. Land area and residential property value are loosely related—Texas and California are two of the largest states—but the fact of the matter is, this density is predicated on economic trends that go beyond size.


Income inequality is a growing problem in our country—and as the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen, disparities between property value per state will also increase over time.

Just consider New York, for example.

Property value in New York is the sixth highest in the world—behind Geneva, Singapore, London, Hong Kong, and Monaco—but it still ranks as the most expensive real estate market in the U.S.

"At 305 square miles, New York City makes up only 0.008 percent of the total land area of the US, yet its $1.5 trillion of housing value is about five-percent of the nationwide total," Galka writes. "Only four states are worth more than New York City, one of which is New York state."


"What I found most striking of all was the value of some Manhattan neighborhoods. The Upper East Side, which occupies less than one square mile, has an astounding $96 billion of housing value. That places it above Staten Island and the Bronx as well as about six states: New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, and Alaska."