Cities Up, Suburbs Down
For the first time in 100 years, cities are on the rise.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: June 29th, 2012
t had to happen sooner or later—the massive growth of the suburbs and exurbs has abated, while more and more young people are choosing to live in large cities. This is good news for cities, whose planners are already seeing opportunities, but bad news for real estate agents and car companies.
Citified youngsters are showing a penchant for bicycling and taking public transportation.
According to census estimates made public this week, cities like Atlanta, Denver, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, N.C., Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Seattle have seen higher than usual growth. New Orleans saw the biggest growth (3.7 percent, compared with 0.6 percent in the suburbs), but this is most likely a reflection of that city’s slow recovery from Hurricane Katrina, which caused N’awlins’ population to shrink.
This demographic shift is due to a combination of factors: the recession, which hit suburban areas hard, high gas prices, and a change in attitudes among young people toward the cities their parents and grandparents abandoned.
As we’ve noted previously, this trend is having an impact on the auto industry, which is for the first time struggling with a generation that isn’t anxious to own a car. Citified youngsters are showing a penchant for bicycling and taking public transportation; not having to own a car is part of the reason many twentysomethings choose urban areas over suburban ones.
But ultimately, what seems to be most responsible for the surburbs’ undoing is the very suburban-ness of it all. A story on msnbc.com quoted several young city-dwellers and typical among their comments was this one from a 28-year-old living in Denver:
"I will never live in the suburbs," said Jaclyn King, project director at a Denver hospital. "I just like being connected to everything down here — concerts, work, restaurants, all of it. This is where everything's at.”
City growth was surpassed by sub- and ex-urban growth beginning in the 1920s, due to the rise of the automobile.