Popularity of big-city downtowns on the rise

More people are moving downtown in America's largest cities, according to a new census report. But the fastest rate of growth was in smaller cities.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Sep 28, 2012 12:12PM

© Brand X/SuperStockThe downtowns of America's five most populous cities saw double-digit growth in the past 10 years, as the popularity of living downtown continued to grow.


According to a new report from the Census Bureau, Chicago saw the greatest increase in residents living within two miles of City Hall, with 48,000 new residents added in that area during the decade.


New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., also saw large population increases in their downtown cores, as did many smaller cities.


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"This is not just a change in people picking downtown to live," Robert Lang, who teaches urban affairs at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, told USA Today. "It's a revolution in how we identified, built and financed downtown housing. ... A lot of bets were made, spurred in part by more creative financing."

But not all downtowns grew. New Orleans lost 35,000 downtown residents during the decade, likely as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Baltimore lost 10,000 downtown residents, as did two cities in Ohio, Dayton and Toledo.

The United States became slightly more urban during the decade; 83.7% percent of U.S. residents live in metropolitan areas with at least one population center of 50,000 or more. These areas take up only about one-quarter of the U.S. land area.

One-quarter of U.S. residents live in the nine largest cities, and 10% live in either the Los Angeles or the New York metropolitan area.


The population of the United States increased 9.7% between 2000 and 2010.


While the largest metro areas recorded the greatest number of new residents, the fastest rates of growth were in smaller areas. These were the fastest-growing metropolitan areas during the decade:

  • Palm Coast, Fla., from 49,832 residents to 95,696 residents, a growth rate of 92%.
  • St. George, Utah, from 90,354 residents to 138,115 residents, a growth rate of 42.9%.
  • Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., from 1.37 million residents to 1.95 million, a growth rate of 41.8%.
  • Raleigh-Cary, N.C., from 797,071 residents to 1.13 million, a growth rate of 41.8%.
  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., from 440,888 residents to 618,754 residents, a growth rate of 40.3%.

The metro areas showing the greatest percentage decline in residents were:

  • New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La., 11.3%.
  • Pine Bluff, Ark., 6.6%.
  • Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa., 6.2%.
  • Johnstown, Pa., 5.8%.
  • Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-W.Va., 5.7%.
Nov 4, 2012 4:30PM
No--they found an abundance of natural gas all along the western PA, NY and eastern Ohio area.  I believe the gas shale runs as far south as Kentucky.  Obviously you don't appear to much about it.  The fracking procedure is controversial but  what I was trying to say was that the area is starting to build again.  And for your info--we are planning to move back to PA due to the over development and congestion that now abounds in the DC Balt metro areas. 
Nov 3, 2012 7:11PM
I'm not surprised Pine Bluff is there with the high crime rate there.
Nov 3, 2012 4:42PM
I'm from that western PA-eastern Ohio area.  True, the numbers may have gone down in the regional population but has the author of this article ever heard of natural gas??  This person obviously has not done their homework.  The area is lousy with it.  Stay tuned..... $$$$$$$ :)
Nov 3, 2012 7:38AM
As condos maybe, but not as commercial hubs. 
Poor vision by planners has left most urban areas vehicle challenged. Many of these hubs still have two centuries of carcinogens embedded in the historic infra structure. 
An inability to grow your own (food) will be an imposition when the masses discover the US dollar is worthless.
Nov 3, 2012 7:17AM
downtown los angeles is having a remarkable comeback. but like all things in LA there can be too much of a good thing and many upper income folks are following the trend driving up prices.
even in the suburbs many well-heeled folks want to live like they're in a loft. i still fantasize about moving to detroit...

Nov 3, 2012 4:55AM
well i dont  see detroit here or  new york  , well i guess they just forgot lol , or the crime is so high an the water is too in new york  maybe a house boat , so i guess this article is wrong people are leaving the big cities because of crime an taxes  an the higher bills
Nov 3, 2012 4:52AM
Oct 12, 2012 11:12AM
My daughter live in down town loft.  8 minutes to work 5 in elevators.  Her car is in my back yard.  Living a hour from work is a really stupid and expensive idea.  Good job low expenses bright future.
Sep 30, 2012 12:22PM
Love it!  Do you have any statistics on the crime rates with this recent increase in downtown living?  Are they improving?
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