The Changing Shape of American Cities
February 2015 — The last two decades have brought dramatic changes to many American cities. Most cities in the United States in 1990 had a “donut” shape, with wealthier residents in a booming suburban ring surrounding a decaying core. Today cities are increasingly resembling what has been called a new donut – with three, rather than two rings. The center has grown much more desirable to educated, higher-income residents, especially young adults under the age of 35. Poverty, meanwhile, is migrating outwards, creating an “inner ring” of urban and early suburban neighborhoods around the core, where per capita incomes have fallen and education rates are stagnant. Beyond the inner ring, an outer ring of newer and larger suburbs continues to add population.
View Graphs of 66 American Cities
Click here to see how American cities have changed over time
Related Blog Posts
Migration data miscounts millennials, confuses the media
Conclusions based on migration data from the CPS, especially for young adults, should be considered highly suspect. Americans are most mobile at the ages the CPS is most likely to miss them, meaning that a great deal of the reshuffling of the population gets missed by the survey.
Are the millennials a real thing?
There has been quite a bit of hype around the idea that millennials are gravitating towards city centers. It turns out that downtowns are in fact seeing a greater share of young people, a recent trend that is occurring in nearly every city across the country.
A funny thing is happening in many US cities
The “Old Donut” model consists of an impoverished central city with a ring of thriving suburbs around it, but the New Donut reveals an important trend occurring in most major US metro areas today: Downtowns are doing better than they have been in decades and newer outer suburbs also continue to boom and expand outward.
The line that divides DC
No it’s not a party line. It’s an almost perfectly straight line running north-south along 16th Street, passing through the White House, and then continuing along the Potomac River to the south. It divides two very different sides of the DC area.
In the News
- 3.03.15 | USA Today — New report shows urban 'donut' shifting
- 3.02.15 | CityLab — This chart tool shows how city centers are doing better...
- 2.26.15 | The Washington Post — Cities are becoming more affluent while poverty is rising in inner suburbs
- 2.25.15 | The New York Times — The Gentrification Effect
- 3.03.15 | The Houston Chronicle — Comparing Houston and its suburbs from 1990 to 2012
- 3.02.15 | Phoenix Business Blog — Face of downtown Phoenix changing, but city lags...