Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

More on the 2010 Census and center cities

Reporting in USA Today ("Blacks leaving major cities: More seek suburbs and better weather") and the Philadelphia Inquirer ("Philly or Lake Woebegon? We're slightly above average") on the 2010 Census results in terms of major cities ends up covering more of the story, compared to local reporting in the Washington Post ("D.C.'s black majority status slips away" and "On Barry's old block, a racial shift,") and other local media. From the USA Today article:

The black population is declining in a growing number of major cities — more evidence that the settlement pattern of African Americans is changing as they disperse to suburbia and warmer parts of the nation.

2010 Census data released so far this year show that 20 of the 25 cities that have at least 250,000 people and a 20% black population either lost more blacks or gained fewer in the past decade than during the 1990s. The declines happened in some traditional black strongholds: Chicago, Oakland, Atlanta, Cleveland and St. Louis.

The loss is fueled by three distinct trends:

•Blacks — many in the middle or upper-middle class — leaving cities for the suburbs.
•Blacks leaving Northern cities for thriving centers in the South.
•The aging of the African-American population, whose growth rate has dropped from more than 16% in the 1990s to about 10% since 2000.

All the DC media focused on how with the continued decline of African-American residents, DC, an African-American majority city since the mid-1950s, is now approaching a situation where African-Americans are no longer the majority.

I'm not saying that's not important. It is. But it is only part of the story, which I pointed out in a blog entry last weekend, "Gentrification, neighborhood change, and wacked discourse."

Reporting in the other papers finds that in virtually every major U.S. city covered, African-American population is down compared to the 2000 Census.

With the exception of DC, white population decreased in each city compared to the 2000 Census. In each city, Hispanic population grew (with one exception, Detroit), as did the population of Asian-Americans.

-- USA Today webpage on the 2010 Census
-- "Urban centers draw more young, educated adults," USA Today

The Inquirer article had a very nice table showing data of Northeast and Midwest center cities losing and gaining population. It's not available online in a readable fashion, so I copied the data and it is presented below.
Northeast and Midwest Center Cities Ranked by the percentage change in residents from 2000 to 2010

This is important because it raises many questions concerning center city revitalization. Obviously, urban revitalization isn't just a slam dunk, but a nuanced, intricate process.

Here are some of the things that I am thinking about:

- the core of a center city has the opportunity to grow and is growing
- but mostly population increases are amongst the young
- and this masks the fact that in most cities, neighborhoods located outside the core of the city continue to lose population
- what types of resident attraction programs are necessary and what components are required to better balance population gains across a city
- how to better attract to the city middle aged residents with choices
- how to retain the middle class--whites and blacks
- black abandonment of the center city
- how to reduce outmigration of families
- maintaining strong neighborhood schools as a revitalization and stabilization policy for city population maintenance, yet this isn't a priority for public school systems.
- the role of transit and placemaking/quality of life factors in resident attraction and retention programs

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