New Population Maps Show Americans are Still Moving to the 'Burbs


All images courtesy of Stephen Von Worley at DataPointed

If you thought we'd finally gotten over our weird national love affair with unsustainable sprawl, think again -- throughout the period of 2000-2010, many Americans were still migrating from urban areas to the suburbs. Stephen Von Worley, who runs the site Data Pointed, has used census data to make a series of maps that reveal the shift in populations during the time period. And in city after city, especially in the rust belt and the Southwest, you can plainly see a striking tale: populations shifting from dense urban areas to the 'burbs. However, there's evidence in many of these cities that there's movement towards urban living, too -- many cities show gentrification and population growth in their downtown areas. Take, for instance, Chicago, which tells two distinct tales -- suburban flight and a gentrification in its deepest downtown regions. Dark blue is where more people moved, red is where they emptied out of:


And here's Las Vegas:


And Houston, notorious for its sprawl, is seeing even further suburban migration:


It's especially striking to see cities like Detroit, which have all but emptied out (though a small urban core appears to still be thriving):


By way of comparison, here's New York, whose population density generally stayed the same:


Even in the mighty sustainable mecca of Portland, most of the growth took place in the burbs:


Finally, see Denver and Boulder, Colorado, for a pretty good example of the deep urban/suburban dichotomy in action:


Aas we start run out of cheap oil, many of these suburbs that Americans have just moved to will soon be stranded. Some analysts predict that they'll even be so cut off from society at large that they'll become the slums of the future. But even if things don't get that dire, suburban living is generally resource intensive, inefficient, more conducive to obesity, and so on and so forth. You know the drill.

Many have long predicted that we'd start seeing a shift away from the burbs -- and it appears, in those dark blue pockets at the center of these charts, we are. But at the very least, these maps make it clear that many of our most populous areas were still trending the wrong way throughout the last decade. Hopefully, this just marks the last gasp of suburban flight.

More on the Suburbs
The End of the Suburbs . On Video.
The Suburbs are So Dead

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