“It’s interesting that Chicago and New York were the top ones, which suggests these are places that will attract young and well-off people who want to feel like they live in an important area,” he says. “You can’t generalize entirely, of course, because while some urban cores are doing very well, others are still part of a broader suburban trend” where downtown areas are emptying out.
The Census report, which analyzed demographic changes down to a granular level in order to zoom in on localized population movements, notably reported that, across the US, urban neighborhoods located within a two-mile radius of city hall saw an across-the-board 2 percent increase in population.
Cities with 5 or more million residents saw their populations in areas within a two mile radius of their largest city hall increase by 13 percent, a trend mirrored at a slightly slower pace in cities with between 2.5 and 5 million residents.
Chicago alone saw 48,000 people, many of them young and white, move into its central core area – the highest number in the US. New York, Salt Lake City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., didn’t lag far behind, as those areas benefited from mostly strong local governance and improved services.
“The Washington metro area is a notable example of this pattern,” said Steven Wilson, a co-author of the report, according to a Census release. “We see increases in the non-Hispanic white population, in both numeric terms and share of the total population, in many of the District’s census tracts in or close to the city’s downtown area.”
At the same time, whites’ share of the population in some of Washington’s suburbs dropped by 10 percentage points, the Census reported.
In Atlanta, hard hit by the housing crisis, the trend was also evident. Only three metro zipcodes saw major gains in home prices in the last year, and they were all gentrifying neighborhoods within a few stones’ throws of City Hall.