Monday, 11 August 2014

Southern US cities 1950-2010 population

Continuing on the topic of how the population of city cores change from 1950 to 2010, here are the 5 cities from the American South. These represent a range of different cities, although they are among the largest and most prosperous of this region. I might look at Memphis, Birmingham and a couple other smaller or less prosperous cities in a later post.

First, Atlanta:

Population loss occurred throughout the city core in the 1950-2010 interval and was especially intense in downtown adjacent neighbourhoods. Only peripheral areas grew. For Atlanta, I looked at the whole area that was covered by census tracts in 1950. Census tracts at that time sometimes only covered the city proper and maybe a few significant satellite cities and suburbs, and other times they covered the entire metropolitan area. For Atlanta they covered the whole metro area (as defined in 1950), roughly the area inside The Perimeter. The worst population loss was just South of Memorial Drive, which includes neighbourhoods like Summerhill and Mechanicsville. Although Downtown and especially Midtown have been growing at a good pace recently, it seems like that hasn't been enough to make up for earlier losses, although in the case of Midtown, there are a couple census tracts along Peachtree that grew.

Next is Nashville.

Nashville fared a little better than Atlanta, but still experienced fairly significant population loss in core neighbourhoods, sometimes enough that it can't be explained away by declining household sizes.

Houston 1950-2010
Houston did experience major population loss East and Southeast of downtown, but elsewhere, it's at most 40% so probably mostly due to decreasing household sizes. I think Rice Military (-4.5%) probably reached it's initial build out in 1950, and it looks like the current construction boom there has allowed it to almost recover from household size related losses.

Dallas 1950-2010
Dallas has been doing even better than Houston (though I think Houston is catching up now and booming more in the core). The area SE of downtown experienced significant population loss, which is evidenced by many vacant lots, but elsewhere, population loss has been more moderate. The Oak Lawn area actually grew and although the neighbourhood around the North Central Expressway (+379.4%) probably experienced some greenfield growth, I think a lot of it was infill there too.

Finally Miami 1950-2010
Now that's a real outlier... It experienced population growth throughout almost the entire inner city, only Overtown (which was the main high density neighbourhood in 1950) lost population. In the waterfront areas, and also Coral Gables, much of the growth was probably from highrise condos. In many neighbourhoods, single family homes appear to have been either divided into duplexes, or had secondary dwellings built, and other neighbourhoods have built smaller lowrise aparments (ex Little Havana). Household sizes probably didn't fall as much as in other cities either. It will be interesting to see how it compares with Los Angeles, which has many similarities (though fewer highrise condos and more midrises) and also got denser throughout.

Adding up the total population loss in all areas that lost population, Atlanta lost the most at about 150,000, followed by Houston at 130,000, Dallas at 80,000, Nashville at 75,000 and Miami at 20,000, with the exact number depending on where the boundaries are drawn. Atlanta was smaller than Houston, so even though total losses were only slightly greater, % loss was around 50% compared to about 35% for Houston. Nashville was also smaller than Dallas, so its % loss was greater.

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