According to the NYT, the under-5 population of Manhattan increased 26 percent between 2000 and 2004. SHOCKING. The most likely explanation, they say, is not Mexicans in East Harlem [seriously], but high-income families who don't "disappear into Brooklyn and New Jersey" when they have kids. [So when the Observer said yesterday that Manhattan's like college, and now everybody moves to Brooklyn to start their families, they meant "everybody in Brokeback Mountain"?]
Although the Times says "the preschool population" now stands at 97,000, all of whom are presumably gunning for the same 25 slots at the 92nd St Y, come in from the window ledge and let's talk this out.
According to the 2004 US Census estimate, 6.4% of Manhattan's population is "0-5 years old," up from 4.5% in 2000. That's 96,000 heads, many of which are still pretty soft. Pre- "school-age," sure, but not "preschool-age."
To get to the real waitlist numbers, divide by 5. The Census implies that the number of babies born in Manhattan rose from 15,200/yr to 19,200. If 16.4% of them were born to families with $200K+/yr income [that's the Manhattan breakdown], that's an additional 650 kids/yr (from 2500 to 3150, give or take). And if you can't figure out how to elbow your kid's way ahead of another 650 or so other kids, well, you might as well move to Brooklyn.
Meanwhile, from a sheer gear standpoint, using the very conservative estimate of 1.5/child, that works out to 4,725 new Bugaboos hitting the Upper East Side every year. Sounds about right.