Downtowns are booming



WASHINGTON — A U.S. Census Bureau report shows that in many of the largest cities of the most-populous metro areas, downtown is becoming a place not only to work but also to live.

Between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, metro areas with 5 million or more people experienced double-digit population growth rates within their downtown areas, more than double the rate of these areas overall.

My kind of town

Chicago experienced the largest numeric gain in its downtown area, with a net increase of 48,000 residents over 10 years.

New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington also posted large population increases close to city hall.

Not so in Toledo

These downtown gains were not universal, however: New Orleans and Baltimore experienced the greatest population declines in their downtown areas (35,000 and slightly more than 10,000, respectively).

Two smaller areas in Ohio — Dayton and Toledo — also saw downtown declines of more than 10,000.

The census report uses 2010 Census results to examine contemporary geographic patterns (as well as changes since the 2000 Census) of population density and distribution by race, Hispanic origin, age and sex for metro and micro areas collectively as well as individually.

Metro areas contain at least one urbanized area of 50,000 population or more, while micro areas contain at least one urban cluster of less than 50,000, but at least 10,000.

“By including totals for both 2000 and 2010, this report helps us to understand patterns of change for this past decade,” said Census Bureau Deputy Director Nancy Potok.

Race trend

A common theme for the non-Hispanic white alone population from 2000 to 2010 was population increases in the central areas of many of the largest principal cities, especially those in the largest metro areas.

“The Washington metro area is a notable example of this pattern,” said Steven Wilson, a co-author of the report.

“We see increases in the non-Hispanic white population, in both numeric terms and share of the total population, in many of the District’s census tracts in or close to the city’s downtown area.”

At the same time, this group’s share of the population declined by 10 or more percentage points in many tracts in the surrounding suburbs of Washington, D.C. 

Every city different

These demographic patterns were not uniform across all race and ethnic groups; the black alone population increased in most metro areas outside the area’s largest city.

In Atlanta, for example, this group’s share of the population rose by at least 10 percentage points in wide swaths surrounding the city.

For Hispanics, growth was greatest in pockets along principal city perimeters and adjacent territory.


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