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Old 03-03-2012, 04:35 PM
 
Location: South St Louis
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Many older US cities' population peaked in the early-to-mid 20th century. This was followed by a population loss in the 1960 or 1970 censuses. For example, Chicago peaked in 1950 with over 3.6 million residents, and then it slowly dropped to the current 2.7 million. Several of these cities have since regained some of their population (e.g., Atlanta), but unfortunately they have not yet matched their one-time peak.
But a select few cities have managed to go above and beyond their previous population peaks. I'm calling them "comeback cities", and I must say they are few and far between. Here are the ones I have identified:

Seattle- peaked in 1960 at 557,000; hit a low point in 1980 at 494,000; reached 608,000 in 2010.

Denver- peaked in 1970 at 515,000; hit a low point in 1990 at 468,000; reached 600,000 in 2010.

Memphis- peaked in 1980 at 646,000; hit a low point in 1990 at 618,000; reached 646,000 (again) in 2010.

San Francisco- peaked in 1950 at 775,000; hit a low point in 1980 at 679,000; reached 805,000 in 2010.

New York- peaked in 1970 at 7,896,000; hit a low point in 1980 at 7,072,000; reached 8,175,000 in 2010.

Not sure if Seattle, Denver or Memphis added any land to their city limits or not, but I know SF and NY did not. Thoughts on these select few cities? Any others I've missed?
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Old 03-03-2012, 05:04 PM
 
Location: The City
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Boston peaked in 1950 with 800K

Is now up more than 10% from its recnet bottom of 560K in 1990 to 616K in 2010

DC peaked in 1950 at 800K and is up from the bottom in 2000

Philly peaked in 1950 at 2.1 million and now up from the bottom in 2000 ever so slightly


One thing to remember is that the biggest impact to all these cities is household size change; down 35% since 1950

Though that also makes the NYC and SF all that much more impressive as they both have significantly more unints in cities that were pretty much fully developed by 1950.

Baltimore may be the next of these which peaked at 1 million in you guessed it 1950
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Old 03-03-2012, 06:23 PM
 
Location: Seattle, Washington
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During Seattle's years of mass exodus, there was a newspaper article requesting the last one to leave to make sure the lights were turned out.
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Old 03-03-2012, 07:32 PM
 
14,752 posts, read 28,616,513 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjg5 View Post
During Seattle's years of mass exodus, there was a newspaper article requesting the last one to leave to make sure the lights were turned out.
My thoughts exactly...there was a time when Boeing was the only show in town that this was the catch phrase. Once upon a time, Seattle was dismal. And those with vision might have started buying in at that time.

Denver's drop is surprising, but I think there was an energy industry bust of sorts in the late to mid 1980s.

The one that I was expecting to see here is Indianapolis and maybe Columbus. I think they keep on moving forward, though I don't care for them.
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Old 03-04-2012, 06:20 AM
 
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Indianapolis is in fact an example. It grew 56% from the 1960s to 1970 (476,000 to 744,000). It lost population in the 70s (white flight), dropping 6% to 700,000. Since 1980 it has grown slow and steady (around 5% per year) and today has a population (city only) of around 830,000, making it the 12th largest city in the US.
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Old 03-04-2012, 08:11 AM
 
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Some of these cities may have annexed land/communities too. So, that is a factor to consider as well.
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Old 03-05-2012, 10:45 AM
 
Location: The Springs
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Denver added land in the 1990's, annexing (with voter approval) a portion of Adams County for construction of DIA. That almost doubled the physical size of the city. I know there are many industrial/commercial areas out there and the old Stapleton Airport has been redeveloped for residential use. I don't know if that is totally responsible for the resurgence, but most likely has contributed to that growth.
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Old 03-05-2012, 12:11 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle19125 View Post
Indianapolis is in fact an example. It grew 56% from the 1960s to 1970 (476,000 to 744,000). It lost population in the 70s (white flight), dropping 6% to 700,000. Since 1980 it has grown slow and steady (around 5% per year) and today has a population (city only) of around 830,000, making it the 12th largest city in the US.
Indianapolis merged with its county in 1970 and the city limits grew by 500%. That's why you see the huge jump in the 1960's - they ate all the suburbs.

The Democrats normally controlled the city, with the Republicans controlling the surrounding suburban areas. In 1968 the Republicans gained control of the Indiana Governor's position as well as both houses of congress. Almost immediately they purposed a law to merge the city of Indianapolis with the surrounding areas. This would effectively mitigate the power of the Democrats in the city of Indianapolis (the central Democratic strongpoint of the state) since they would be diluted into the surrounding 300 square miles of republican controlled suburbs. So it was the state that merged the city with the surrounding 300 miles, not the city or county themselves. Right away Republicans took over the Mayor's position as well as the city council in the new huge city. This lead to decades of bitterness and decay in the old city of Indianapolis, as residents from there moved out to the newer areas of town - although still within the new city of Indianapolis. Mostly black people remained in the original core, and it suffered for decades.

Today the original Indianapolis has around 288,000 people - down from the pre-consolidation population of around 475,000. If Indianapolis hadn't merged back in 1970, it could probably have shown roughly a 40% drop in population. The old school district of the original city is still around, and has seen enrollment drop by almost 70% since 1970.

That drop probably wouldn't have been so severe though, probably not all the way down to 288,000. If the Democrats who had always run the city were still in power, it probably could have held on a little more and had more of a fight in it as opposed to having the suburban forces gain all the power and basically let old Indy sit and rot.

Annexing can really play with the population numbers of a city. Look at Houston and all their annexation, etc. Dallas I believe is now almost built-out and can't annex much more open land. Hence the population growth has slowed greatly in the city.

Chicago had talked about county consolidation years ago. If they'd done so in the 1960's, the "City of Chicago" would never have had large population drops, and would have more people today than 1960 - technically.

Last edited by Chicago60614; 03-05-2012 at 12:20 PM..
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Old 03-05-2012, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Up on the moon laughing down on you
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicago60614 View Post

Annexing can really play with the population numbers of a city. Look at Houston and all their annexation, etc. Dallas I believe is now almost built-out and can't annex much more open land. Hence the population growth has slowed greatly in the city.
Dallas is far from built out, and there are still more room to annex.

As For Houston we have not annexed anything in TWO censuses, and still growing by hundreds of K
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Old 03-05-2012, 12:47 PM
 
Location: Boston
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I suspect not many others will be able to turn this trick without annexation, mostly for the demographic reason Kidphilly described. There are many turn around cities, that are back on a pattern of sustained growth. Most can keep this going as long as there is demand, because infill projects and height can add to existing housing stock. But most of these cities still won't make it back to peak numbers any time soon, barring some spectacularly unforeseeable development.
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