Thursday, 16 July 2015

US MSAs urban vs suburban growth (2000-2010) - Part 2

The first post in this series compared population growth rates of US MSAs in five successive zones or rings from downtown to the exurbs.

Now I'll look at some key cities in more detail.

First, the three biggest metropolitan areas, which incidentally have all had relative low growth rates of 3-4% from 2000 to 2010.

The "dispersion scores" (adjusted for population growth) from the previous post were
Chicago: 1.85
Los Angeles: 0.63
New York: 0.28

That seems to match the graph. While Chicago's downtown experienced the greatest population growth of all American downtowns, the areas beyond experienced population loss. Many of the more desirable neighbourhoods saw declining household sizes and minimal new development, while less desirable areas experienced abandonment. Total population loss between 2 and 23 miles of downtown was 267,665, compared to a gain of 48,288 within 2 miles and a gain of 581,522 beyond 23 miles of downtown.

New York and LA were more balanced with some population growth throughout most of the metro area. The high growth rates within 4 miles of NYC City Hall correspond to Central Manhattan and areas just across the Hudson and East Rivers. The growth around 7-10 miles corresponds to the outer boroughs and parts of Newark. As for the population loss between 2 and 6 miles from LA City Hall, it was relatively small, declining by about 2%. LA County went from having 4% of housing units vacant in 2000 to 6% vacant in 2010, so that could be part of the cause.

Next you have three booming sunbelt cities.

Houston and Charlotte have had a bit of downtown growth and Phoenix actually lost a bit of population in the core, but all that is insignificant compared to the huge suburban growth these cities have experienced. Charlotte is a smaller city, so it seems like open land existed closer to downtown. In the case of the growth 5-10 miles from downtown Phoenix, looking at the NY Times map it seems most of that has been greenfield development south and southwest of downtown on land that was previously overlooked.

Next, the unofficial capital of the Southeast and one of the oldest cities in America.

Despite having much lower overall growth rates, Philadelphia's downtown actually grew faster and the near-downtown neighbourhoods of Philadelphia and Atlanta experienced similar amounts of population loss. Although parts of Atlanta's core grew from 2000-2010, many of the historically black neighbourhoods experienced population loss.

Boston vs Dallas
Dallas has a similar pattern to Atlanta, however, Boston, unlike Philadelphia, did not experience population loss in central neighbourhoods near downtown and saw even less suburban growth.

Next, three cities well known for smart growth and urban infill, which still have moderately high metropolitan area growth rates.

Growth rates peak at distances that correspond to the suburban periphery, but are still relatively significant throughout.

Here are the three biggest rust belt metros.
Detroit has clearly experienced much more intense population loss in the inner city than St Louis and Pittsburgh. The "ring of decline" from downtown to the distance where population starts to grow again (17 miles) saw a population loss of 302,335. Only Chicago where the ring of decline lost 267,665 people comes close. Despite that, Detroit's suburbs grew almost as fast as St. Louis' and much faster than Pittsburgh's. In fact, while Pittsburgh has a small ring of population growth 12-18 miles from City Hall (+19,805), the growth in this ring was actually negated by population loss further away (-28,255).

Finally there's 3 cities with "hidden" inner city decline, where the central city grew, but growth near the city limits masks population loss closer to downtown.
The population loss was greatest for Memphis, where the "ring of decline" lost 53,572 people, quite a lot for a city its size. Adjusted for metropolitan area population, that's worse than St Louis, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and similar to Buffalo, with Cleveland and Detroit being the only major cities that are worse. It's worth noting that unlike the rust belt cities, Memphis, Indianapolis and Kansas City all experienced relatively significant population growth at the level of the metropolitan area.

If anyone's interested in seeing comparisons of other cities, just leave a comment.

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