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Old 05-30-2013, 09:53 PM
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Look up Paris demographics. That city had a decline in population for decades and decades and look where it is now. I believe the city lost about 1 million residents.
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Old 05-30-2013, 10:11 PM
Location: Shaw.
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A few of those cities have gained people in recent years. Also, many of them were simply people fleeing from the city to the suburbs, which isn't the same thing as a declining city.
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Old 06-01-2013, 07:08 AM
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Detroit will never be like it was. Too much has been lost, and more will be lost.

That said, I do think it can become a nice mid-size city, maybe a bigger Portland or Pittsburgh, in the future.
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Old 06-01-2013, 08:00 AM
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I think people have to remember that along with urban renewal, many of these cities can't annex land/unincorporated and incorporated areas like cities in other regions can due to laws and/or the incorporation of the suburban municipalities. So, these cities after a certain period couldn't expand its limits and this is on top of urban renewal, which destroyed neighborhoods. That means that annexation couldn't help curb the lost, because it wasn't an option for these cities or those like them.

There are other social factors that contribute to this as well, but with this said, these cities can be fine even if they do not reach the population they had at their peak.
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Old 06-01-2013, 09:00 AM
Location: Center City
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Of the cities I know of on the list, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore and Washington are fairly booming in their cores. This may be true of some of the other cities on the list I am less familiar with. This gentrification is expanding into the adjacent neighborhoods, which bodes well for the cities as a whole. While these cities may not return to their peak populations anytime soon (if ever), I suspect the QOL in many of them is better than it has ever been. So will they return to their former glory? Some may even exceed it.
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Old 06-01-2013, 10:02 AM
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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There are two aspects to urban population decline. Often as important as the decline in number of households has been the decline in the average household size. It's important to take this into account because generally speaking today's smaller households occupy just as much housing as older large families, meaning looking only at population decline you don't get the full story.

For example, in Pittsburgh, the majority of population decline has been due to shrinking families. While the city has lost over 300,000 since it's peak, the city would be "full" again (as in, have an equal number of households) if 110,000 additional people migrated here.
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Old 06-01-2013, 10:11 AM
Location: Minneapolis
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Minneapolis has more households than it did at its' population peak, but they are smaller; also it has gained 10,000 people in the last two years. Many of these cities have lower populations for demographic reasons - they have smaller households and lost housing units to the construction of the interstates. Cities like that aren't really in decline. The ones that are in decline are the ones that have lost population due to abandonment.
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Old 06-01-2013, 10:58 AM
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Most of these cities' metro areas have never been larger than they are now. They won't ever be the same cities they once were, but all will remain relevant and major cities for a long, long time.
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Old 06-01-2013, 11:03 AM
Location: Toronto
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Originally Posted by CinciFan View Post
Some may regain their former glory, but most will not.

My city, Cincinnati, for example, was at one point the 6th largest city in the US. There is no way that it will ever claim that title again, but I do think that the city is growing again.

We lost a lot of population during the 1950's-1970's due to highway construction and urban renewal.

Source: Interstate 75 Cincinnati

The train station is still there, but other than that, pretty much every building in that picture is gone and replaced with low density industrial buildings. Construction of I-75 alone displaced 20,000 people and the urban renewal in the area displaced another tens of thousands. Add to that the fact that the city limits really haven't changed since the 1950's, increased suburban development, smaller family sizes, and the demolition of homes to make way for commercial buildings (University of Cincinnati area) and it is no surprise that Cincinnati has lost so much of it's peak population.

However, there is a lot of positive momentum in the city right now. A lot of people are moving into downtown and surrounding neighborhoods (population jumped 60% in the last decade), crime has been decreasing, and there is over $7 billion in projects underway accross the city. The 2012 census estimates showed a population increase from last year, so hopefully we are starting to grow again.
Wow, that is so sad. I happen to really love Cincinnati's urban landscape and architecture (I've never been there), and was sad at how hard it had been hit by urban decline. Looking at this photo, one can see just how hard Cincinnati was hit, and how beautiful and dense it was before its decline. Now it's a shadow of its former self, and neighbourhoods like OTR that still maintain some of the character of old Nati, have become inner-city wastelands. Not long ago, OTR was ranked as being the most dangerous inner-city neighbourhood in America based on its per capita violent crime stats. I know it's improving in some ways, but I don't think Cincinnati will ever look like it does in that photo again. That is truly sad.

Speaking of American cities generally, the various factors that brought about their decline in the mid-to-late 20th Century are very similar across the board. I'm not going to get into explaining them, because I'm sure many threads have covered that topic in depth. What I will say is that cities should focus less on re-attaining their former glory (only NYC has done so successfully. It's truly hard to imagine just how far New York had fallen by 1980, and how high it had risen twenty years later) and more on trying to maximize the potential of what is left. Cities like Detroit are so sparsely populated in areas due to urban blight and abandonment, but it's cool to see people trying to turn that into a positive through urban agriculture and other progressive initiatives that make the vacant land useful.

What really troubles me about these cities is that they have shrunk and decayed while their suburbs have boomed and grown like weeds. In this day and age, when resources are scarce and expensive, the urban lifestyle of the past needs to make a comeback. Car-centred suburbs will only be sustainable for a little while longer before the lifestyle becomes too expensive for the middle class to afford. At that point, the suburbs will either have to change or experience the same fate as the inner city did. These factors (the price of gas, gridlock, sprawl, lack of community) are already bringing people back to the inner city in droves. I believe this movement will continue and certain cities will make a comeback. But they have to look forward and not to the past to be successful. Tapping into the knowledge economy, attracting recent immigrants, and diversifying their economies are all important things these cities can do to attract people into the old inner-city neighbourhoods. Now that racism is less pervasive in American society, people will happily live in racially diverse communities and realize the benefits of multi-cultural communities (it was the segregation of American cities that played a large role in their decline), making for stronger, less polarized neighbourhoods that are less prone to collapse and decline.

However, before people make the choice to come back to the city, crime needs to be dealt with in many places (like OTR in Cincinnati, which is a prime candidate for gentrification, but keeps potential residents and investors away because of street crime and QOL issues), homes and buildings must be knocked down or rehabbed, and neighbourhoods have to come together and form strong local partnerships to keep the gangsters, thugs, and troublemakers in check. I understand the attitude towards "snitching" and "ratting" to a certain extent, because the Drug War has turned the police into antagonists and bullies, but when it comes to murder and violent crime, no one should feel that it's proper to keep their mouths shut. If thugs knew that community leaders would not keep quiet about serious crime any longer, then it wold deter a large amount of the kind of crime that keeps potential investors and new residents away. Some of the cities on this list, despite having declined in population, have thriving inner cities that have come a long way since the bad old days of the 70's and 80's.

These are just some of my thoughts on the issue. I would really like to see these cities make comebacks, but there are SO MANY issues that need to be dealt with, and competent people need to be put into leadership positions - too often it's money and influence that buys leadership, and the American political system (like many) is not the meritocracy it should be.

Last edited by TOkidd; 06-01-2013 at 11:17 AM..
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Old 06-01-2013, 08:43 PM
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If you use Atlanta's 1950s borders, it lost a ton of people, even Atlanta is below peak.
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