U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S.
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
Old 01-20-2011, 03:10 PM
11,172 posts, read 22,375,148 times
Reputation: 10924


Originally Posted by HtownLove View Post
why on earth are all of you doing the coulda woulda shoulda?
The OP didn't ask for all these variables. just what the City pop would be if they continued the same pace instead of the negative growth.
I thought the real world had something to do with this and not just arbitrary math. Chicago had 3.6M in 1950, and say it grows by 150,000 a decade. So 50 years later it would have 4,350,000. There.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

Old 01-20-2011, 03:12 PM
Location: Up on the moon laughing down on you
18,509 posts, read 28,169,813 times
Reputation: 7598
Originally Posted by Chicago60614 View Post
I thought the real world had something to do with this and not just arbitrary math. Chicago had 3.6M in 1950, and say it grows by 150,000 a decade. So 50 years later it would have 4,350,000. There.
good job. I knew you could do it

The real world isn't real anyway. Its just in your mind.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 01-20-2011, 03:41 PM
Location: St Paul, MN - NJ's Gold Coast
5,256 posts, read 11,962,576 times
Reputation: 3080
Chicago- 4 million
Philadelphia- 3 million
Detroit- 2 million
DC- 1 million
Baltimore- 1 million
Cleveland- 900K
Buffalo- 800K
Pittsburgh- 700K
Rochester- 600K
Newark/Jersey City (combined)- 1.1 Million

Just BSin
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 01-23-2011, 05:14 PM
261 posts, read 495,006 times
Reputation: 181
Speaking on the Midwest I think Chicago might've increased in another 1-2 million than what it is now, so probably around 5 million?
I think Detroit and Cleveland would be very big about now behind Chicago, probably adding well over 1 million in population each seeing as how both cities had over a million or nearing a million in population adding roughly 200,000 a decade by the time their downward trends started. So Detroit and Cleveland would probably both be between 2.5-3 million.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 01-23-2011, 06:02 PM
976 posts, read 1,880,126 times
Reputation: 606
interesting how st. louis is not mentioned in this topic. in 1950 it was the 8th largest city in america, with nearly 900,000 people. its population trends and urban dynamics are very comparable to baltimore, detroit and cleveland. had it continued on the same trajectory as the first part of the 20th century, it would have surely been a serious contender.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 01-23-2011, 07:03 PM
Location: Carrboro and Concord, NC
964 posts, read 2,046,793 times
Reputation: 1230
Originally Posted by Dncr View Post
There are way to many variables in this thread to even begin to guesstimate what the population of any of these cities, let alone Chicago, would have been had they not experienced a decline. Had the city of Chicago not experienced a population decline, it's safe to say that a lot of suburbs wouldn't have taken off, leaving the city as a major employment center for the entire region.
Great point.

Long post. Apologies in advance.

I think the declines or slowdowns in the cities we are discussing were amplified by a few very different things - apart from structural changes in businesses that those cities were dominated by - that happened to occur roundabout the same time:

1. The development of the interstate highway system and the de-emphasis or de-subsidization of mass transit. Highways in general, especially interstates are massively subsidized, and even moreso in the 1950s-60s than now. Thus, even if the South and West had remained in the doldrums, the core cities in the NE and Great Lakes still would likely have faced some declines (though less severe), as the GI bill and escalating auto-reliance would have increased mobility in and out of ever more far flung suburbs. So - had we not seen a rise in the South and West, what we would have likely seen instead was a spread of low-density sprawl stretching farther out from core cities in the NE/Great Lakes than what we see now.

Had the interstate highway system not been built, I'd expect that we'd have seen a great re-working of the old US Highway network, coupled with toll state turnpikes through a lot more of the country, but it's still a safe bet that urban growth trends and patterns in all parts of the US would have ended up very differently from what we actually see now.*

2. Changes in annexation laws around the U.S. These laws have been tweaked, modified, amended, or in some cases repealed nearly continually through the 20th century in all regions of the country. Interestingly, some of the sprawl-opolises in the South and West are located in states where the annexation laws are just as stringent (when it comes to involuntary annexations) as they are in many parts of the NE. NC is a notorious exception to that general rule, as are TN, TX and ID, but that still leaves 46 states in which annexations are actually very difficult if initiated by a city.

The difference - in the NE and Great Lakes, counties, townships or other entities (like boroughs in PA or municipal townships in MI) are de-facto cities - municipal corporations. Therefore, most urban/suburban counties in NE/Great Lakes states are effectively entirely municipalized, and were by fairly early into the 20th century, which made boundary changes extremely difficult or impossible. By contrast, most Southern and Western states consider counties to be semi-organized organized administrative divisions, NOT municipal corporations/entities, and in most of those states municipalities don't have home rule powers either. So if residents in unincorporated parts of a given county want ANY services, they must petition for annexation, contract out with a private service provider, or do without. For example, South Carolina has annexation laws (for involuntary/forced annexations) as states like PA or MI, BUT if a subdivision is constructed at the edge of a city and taps (via a developer) into city utilities, you agree to be annexed, or the city can (and will, in the case of Rock Hill, south of Charlotte) cut you off.

Annexations in the late 1800s/early 1900s in the NE often involved one larger incorporated (that is, a municipal corporation) city involuntarily annexing a smaller, adjoining incorporated city, in a process akin to a hostile corporate takeover. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, NYC and Boston all grew considerably via this process, which had to be legislatively approved. It proved to be extremely controversial, and the legislatures became very skittish in dealing with this, so annexations were effectively banned in those states.

Thus annexations were nearly impossible in NE cities after about 1950, and only major structural changes to municipal laws and governance would've altered that. (And - on the same note - in the South, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia - 3 high-growth states - have annexation laws so strict that the only effective route for city growth via annexation is through county consolidations in GA, or strong-arm "voluntary" annexations through service denials in SC. In VA, there have been precisely 2 involuntary municipal annexations since 1972, one of which required a city de-incorporating, abandoning its' initial municipal charter, and then immediately re-incorporating as a town with expanded boundaries and a new municipal charter)

3. The Civil Rights Act and The Voting Rights Act. Had these changes not happened, or been delayed by even 5 or 10 years, the demographic landscape pretty much everywhere east of the Rocky Mountain front would've been very radically altered. The Great Migration was motivated by Jim Crow/human rights issues as much as it was by jobs. Generations of African-Americans whose families shifted north produced offspring who - influenced by the momentum of the civil rights movement - often acquired better educations than any of their ancestors had been able to obtain. Then, as the South (at least in parts) morphed into the "New South," younger and sometimes much more highly educated minorities began to move back South (this is still accelerating), leaving behind those who didn't have the means (educationally or financially). This of course caused urban declines in cities that had earlier benefitted from the Great Migration to escalate, essentially creating a negative feedback loop of declines, and depopulation, followed by more decline, and more depopulation. Certain NE cities were able to spot and reverse this trend, and in the South you'll note a sharp divide between "New South" cities (Charlotte, Atlanta, Nashville, Raleigh), VS "Old South" cities (New Orleans, Memphis, Savannah, Birmingham), so in both regions there are dramatic exceptions to this overall truism.

*Two examples:

  • In the mid-1920s, a proposal was advanced for a network of limited-access or partial-access scenic parkways which would have criss-crossed parts of most of the states east of the Mississippi River:
    • Allegheny Parkway, to run from Front Royal VA to somewhere in N Pennsylvania
    • Blue Ridge Parkway, to run from Front Royal VA south to Cherokee NC
    • an unnamed parkway to run S and SE from the southern end of the Blue Ridge Pkwy, down the length of the Savannah River from the mountains to the coast, and then down the GA coast, and ten lengthwise down the center of FL to the Everglades NP. A modified version of this plan resurfaced 25 years later as the original plan for the FL Tpk, which was initially to run from the GA state line N of Jacksonville to Miami, via Gainesville, Ocala and Orlando. Parts of the northern third of the planned turnpike were absorbed, toll-free, into what became I-75 and I-95, and the Jacksonville-Gainesville segment was never constructed.
    • Cumberland Plateau Parkway, to run NW from the S end of the Blue Ridge Pkwy across parts of TN and KY to the Ohio River between Louisville and Evansville
    • Foothills Parkway, to run NE from the Cumberland Plateau Pkwy to somewhere in the upper Tennessee River valley of NE TN
    • Natchez Trace Parkway, running south from the Cumberland Plateau Pkwy to Natchez MS
    • Ohio River Parkway, to run W from the Allegheny Pkwy to near Pittsburgh, and then along either side of the Ohio River to Cairo IL
    • Great River Parkway, to run from Cairo IL to Natchez MS
    • Colonial Parkway, to run from Front Royal VA SE across VA to Yorktown VA
    • several different parkways running through and around Washington DC
    • Due to the depression, almost all of the above were permanently scrapped. The BR Pkwy, Natchez Trace, some of the DC area urban parkways, a small part of the Colonial Pkwy, and disconnected fragments of the Foothills Pkwy were the only parts of this to be constructed. Nonetheless, this idea could be argued as a partial inspiration for the interstates, with the idea of 'scenic parkways' modified into a concept of superhighways linking cities of 50,000+ populations.
  • In the early 1950s, turnpike proposals were outlined in nearly all of the eastern states. The Southern states were later to the table with this, and proposals were only in the earliest stages of planning when they were supplanted by the interstate system. The Southern states successfully pitched what had initially been conceived as unbuilt toll turnpikes as toll-free additions to the interstate system. The most notable of these (apart from the aforementioned Florida Turnpike) were what would become I-77 and I-79, running south from Cleveland and Erie to Charlotte (in the initial plan), which were entirely first conceived as a series of toll turnpikes running N-S through parts of OH, PA, WV, VA and NC. The only piece of this to be actually constructed as a toll road was the WV Tpk, and the WV Tpk as it exists now is truncated by roughly 50% from what was initially conceived in the late 1940s.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 01-23-2011, 07:25 PM
Location: San Francisco
1,472 posts, read 3,019,897 times
Reputation: 1566
I doubt they would have increased much, if at all, from their historic highs. The metro areas might have grown, but given the historic highs were during a time when family/household size was larger I don't think most of them could have grown much more. A good example would be my city of San Francisco or Seattle. Popular older cities in contrast to Midwest or NE ones. Both lost population in the 60s and 70s and just this decade have rebounded slightly above their high points of 1950 or 1960. In a full developed, relatively dense city surrounded by suburbs there's only one way to go - up. Even with high rise development today's smaller households won't support too much additional growth.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.

Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S.
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top