Eugene L. Birch of the Brookings Institution just completed an analysis of population, household and income trends in downtown areas from 1970 to 2000 called Who Lives Downtown

Download full the report [pdf]

The study was based on 44 different cities whose results vary widely but show these trends:

  • During the 1990s, downtown population grew by 10 percent, a marked resurgence following 20 years of overall decline.

  • From 1970 to 2000, the number of downtown households increased 8 percent—13 percent in the 1990s alone—and their composition shifted.

  • Downtown homeownership rates more than doubled during the thirty-year period, reaching 22 percent by 2000.

  • Downtowns are more racially and ethnically diverse than 20 years ago.

  • In general, downtowns boast a higher percentage of both young adults and college-educated residents than the nation’s cities and suburbs.

  • Downtowns are home to some of the most and least affluent households of their cities and regions.

The results, if based on the past five years would likely show a more pronounced shift toward urban revitalization.

Should We Stay Or Should We Go (To The Suburbs)? [Matrix]
Urban Beats Suburban [Matrix]


One Response to “Development Is Goin’ Down…town”

  1. ElamBend says:

    Unfortunately many downtowns that showed a rise in population in the 1990s lost population from 2000-2004. However, as a committed downtowner I’d like to think the long term trend is toward more vibrant and filled downtowns. I think the model to look toward is Manhattan and Europe’s cities. Most of our metropoli are actually quite young and while I don’t think suburbs will or should go away, I think as our urban cores mature we will gain a better knowledge of maintaining them and thus they will go through less cycles of depopulation.