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What’s the population of Lakewood, NJ?

2013 April 6
by Matt

I have attempted to amend my recent “Places Named Lakewood” map, and I think this version is less incorrect than the first

Map of Lakewoods in the United States

Click for larger version

After Mr. Helpful stopped by to say “hey, there’s this thing Wikipedia, you know…” I took a look, and realized that I had made some omissions. How many I had made, however, is I believe open to question.

Lakewood, Washington, was definitely an omission. It was, in fact, right there in the same print atlas I referenced for everything else, and I simply missed it. That’s clear. Beyond that, things seem to get complicated. Apparently there is this thing called a “Census Designated Place,” which sort of exists in the sense that any political boundary is both real and made-up, and which also sometimes overlaps with formally incorporated communities but not always. For example, Wisconsin’s Lakewood is apparently a very small town, yet the “Census Designated Place” of Lakewood, Wisconsin, is apparently a subset of that. Meanwhile, a Lakewood in South Carolina is considerably larger but seems to exist only as a CDP.

And then there’s the enigma of Lakewood, New Jersey. Wikipedia has entries for it as both a Township and a CDP. Lakewood Township has a web site, and after digging around I found a PDF brochure in which they claim “over 60,000 residents.” According to Wikipedia, though, the CDP has fewer than that and the Township has a lot more. But, it could be that the brochure’s copy predates the latest census, which (again according to Wikipedia) found that Lakewood Township’s population had grown dramatically from slightly more than 60,000 to more than 90,000… Frankly, I feel like we have kind of ended up back where we started, with the question of “what exactly is Lakewood vs what isn’t?” It seemed and seems quite straightforward here in the Ohio instance, but I guess that isn’t always the case.

For now, I have somewhat arbitrarily decided that Lakewood, New Jersey 1) exists, and 2) has a population of around 90,000. But I am certainly not ready to guarantee either one. If anyone out there lives in Lakewood, New Jersey, do feel free to let me know what it is and how many people live there.

Meanwhile, other notes on the revised map: I dropped the two “Lakewood ___” to make this a map of exclusively places named just “Lakewood.” Unless one counts “Lakewood Township,” and again, I have no idea… The net changes, meanwhile, still distribute Lakewoods throughout even more of the country than before, with the Pacific Northwest and the South now represented. We’ve also added two relatively woodsy states (though Minnesota still seems like a notable omission). Lakewood, Washington is nearly a twin to Lakewood, Ohio, interestingly, while Lakewood, California is pipped by Lakewood, New Jersey for second place behind Colorado (again, unless it isn’t).

It’s also more noticeable than ever what a big gap there is between the tiny, low-four-figures or smaller towns and the plus-55,000-population cities. I’m curious whether this is just random, or whether there is some kind of “valley of death” that cities either exceed and thereafter have enough socioeconomic momentum to stay beyond, or else fail to exceed and thereafter decline down to a hard core of a thousand or so residents which then diminishes only gradually. Hey Richard Florida, I have another question for you…

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