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Cities Outpace Suburbs in Growth

June 28, 2012 by Four Percent

Conor Dougherty and Robbie Whelan, The Wall Street Journal Many U.S. cities are growing faster than their suburbs for the first time in decades, reflecting shifting attitudes about urban living as well as the effect of a housing bust that has put a damper on moving. According to Census data released Thursday, in 27 of the nation's 51 largest metropolitan areas, city centers grew faster than suburbs between July 2010 and July 2011. By contrast, from 2000 to 2010 only five metro areas saw their cores grow faster than the surrounding suburbs. Viewed as a whole, U.S. suburbs have grown faster than city centers in every decade since the 1920s, when rising automobile ownership inspired Americans to begin fleeing cramped city quarters for leafy suburbs, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. Urban population growth accelerated markedly at the end of the last decade, he added. One reason for the shift back to urban areas may be improvements in quality-of-life factors, such as safety, that traditionally drove residents to the suburbs. In the past decade, cities have become considerably more livable. Crime rates have fallen in some urban centers; downtown areas that once were dotted with closed businesses now feature new cultural amenities such as museums and baseball stadiums. Read More

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