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  1. #1
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    OT - How cities populations have changed

    As a 50+'er, I find it difficult to keep up on what cities are now larger than others.

    I remember memorizing the 20 largest cities from the 1960 census. It included such entries as:
    5) Detroit
    6) Baltimore
    8) Cleveland
    10) St. Louis
    11) Milwaukee
    16) Pittsburgh

    Today I read that Pittsburgh is now #59, just behind Aurora, CO. Of course it has a much large metro area, but the city proper is now not in the top 50.

    Milwaukee is now #22. Baltimore has slipped to #18. Detroit is #11. Cleveland is #39. St. Louis is out of the top 50.

    Now San Diego is 8th, San Jose is 10th, Indianapolis is 12th, Jacksonville is 13th. Heck, Ft. Worth is 19th and El Paso is 21st. Las Vegas, which used to be a small city is now #29 and is larger than Atlanta, Cleveland, and Minneapolis. Albuquerque is 33rd. And Fresno is 36th.

    I still think of many of the older cities as being large cities. I'm not sure I can reprogram my mind to keep track of these population shifts.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    The population of the cities themselves really is not so significant, because it's the metropolitan area that really matters. Cleveland has lost a lot of population, but the suburbs have grown, and how the whole area compares is really a better comparison. Also, some places, like Jacksonville, have incorporated the entire area (the city of Jacksonville is all of Duval County) as a way of consolidating services.

    That said, things really have changed since the 60s.

    Here's another thing I learned recently that really surprised me: China has something like 275 cities with population over 1 million. I'll bet that the US has maybe 50 metropolitan areas with populations over a million.

  3. #3
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Yes, I mentioned the metro effect when I was discussing the population of Pittsburgh. So much of the population, and much of the more affluent sector of that population, has moved out to the suburbs. This starves the inner cities, which still provide all of the infrastructure.

    But even considering that, the population drift to the South and West has been substantial.

    For example, Cleveland's metro population is now only #25. Baltimore is #20.

    Meanwhile Dallas is #4, Miami #7, and Riverside / San Bernadino is #14.

    Las Vegas is up to #30 on the metro list!
    Last edited by Tom Bombadil; 07-14-08 at 07:27 PM.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I find population shifts within the metro area to be more troublesome.

    St Louis is one of the cities that's losing population. However, some of the routes that I used to bicycle on regularly now have far too much traffic for me to enjoy. One of my current favorite road rides is around St Paul, Missouri. Unfortunately, there's a big housing development going up so the days of low traffic roads in that area appear to be numbered. [Sigh].

  5. #5
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    You're talking "urban sprawl." Sometimes I don't think I'm ever going to get out of some cities. They go on and on and on.

    There are some interesting predictions for how this might change in the upcoming era of higher gas prices.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    I have a daughter who's interning with the Department of Energy in DC this summer. She is really enjoying the "urban" expereince of living near a subway that takes her to within a few block of work, having a grocery store and other services within walking distance of her apartment, and having sufficient public transportation to get wherever she wants to go without having a car. It contrasts substantially with her upbringing in Florida, where you almost have to have a car if you want to have a job, go shopping, or get anywhere.

    Cheap gas has really skewed this country. It has allowed urban areas to decline, because everyone can live in the suburbs and drive in for work. $4 - $7 for a gallon of gas, which I'll bet we'll have for the forseeable future, could really have some beneficial effects, not to ignore the terrible downside for those who will be hit the hardest.

  7. #7
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    If San Diego is 8th, it's slipped two places. A while back it was sixth.
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  8. #8
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    This was using 2005 population estimates. They were #7 in 2000, but San Antonio passed them.

    San Diego was at #6 during the 1990s. It has gained population, but not as much as San Antonio and Phoenix.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    I find it interesting in that todays 20-somethings see an America that is so different than what many of us saw. Not that all, or even most, of the change has been bad.

    In 1950 Florida was a relatively small state, population of 2.7M, that had a modest tourist industry. California was already booming and was up to 10.5M, but they are well over 3X that today. San Jose had less than 100,000 people. There were large gaps between the cities around the Bay. Arizona was very lightly populated with only 750,000 people. There were more people living within the city limits of Boston than in the entire state of Arizona in 1950.

    Of course the large shift in population to the South, West, and suburbs was due in part to our generation moving to those areas. My parents moved our family to Florida in 1973 and they are all still there, with their children, except for me.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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  10. #10
    Gilpin County Wheelman SKYLAB's Avatar
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    .....I find it interesting in that todays 20-somethings see an America that is so different than what many of us saw. Not that all, or even most, of the change has been bad......
    I try not to harp on change and how things used to be. Its normal to grow more conservative as you get older, and I try and write off much of my bemusement to that. However, I surely do miss the formerly wide open spaces I could get to fairly easily in places like Colorado and west Texas. New Mexico comes to mind. Still a few spots where you can actually be alone in this country - for a while anyway - but they are rapidly rapidly shrinking.
    It seems to me that one of the questions we should be trying to answer in this country (rather than simply accepting whatever default fate our actions lead us to) is "what do we want this country to look like?" How much development, how much parkland etc?
    Watching the Tour again this year I am pleased at how very few bill boards you see on French road sides.
    And you know that notion just crossed my mind.

  11. #11
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    What this doesn't show though is that some of these urban areas are bumping upside with each other. Flying over California, if you were to track the area East to West from Indio to Ventura you would see 195 miles of uninterrupted urbanity with just a little thinning near Banning. South to North, San Ysidro to Ventura is 204 miles interrupted only by the Camp Pendleton marine base. It's pretty mind boggling.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
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    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
    Of course the large shift in population to the South, West, and suburbs was due in part to our generation moving to those areas.
    If the west can't solve its water problems, we may see the populations leaving.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

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    Senior Member Terrierman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    If the west can't solve its water problems, we may see the populations leaving.
    Until they figure out how to violate the laws of physics, I foresee the water situation in the West continuing to be a problem, only getting bigger.
    It's all downhill from here. Except the parts that are uphill.

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    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    It's all about sustainable development. When water is almost free, people move to the desert, put in golf courses and lawns and all sorts of things that use huge amounts of water. When gas is cheap, people move to the suburbs and opt to commute to work in gas guzzlers. When climate change is not a concern, we build coal-fired power plants, bigger houses, and use more air conditioning. Almost none of those developments is good.

    One thing hasn't changed. The microeconomics I learned in the 70s still applies. People really do make decisions based on a rough cost-benefit analysis. If we pay the true cost of the water we use, the gas we consume, and the carbon we expel, we might actually make decisions that result in sustainable lifestyles.

    In 1976 I campaigned for Morris Udall, who lost to Jimmy Carter in the Democratic primaries. I was impressed with his environmental positions, which included radical ideas like taxes to raise the cost of gasoline to decrease its use. Such taxes are anathema to most Americans. Now, we have gas prices high enough to cause a real change in behavior, with the profits going to the robber barons of the 21st century, the oil companies. Where would we be had we followed Udall's positions for the last 30 years?

  15. #15
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    I don’t think European style big cities ever worked well in the US. For a long time they were a necessary evil because that is where the jobs were but once people could find a way out urban sprawl and suburban flight drained the traditional Eastern type of cities.

    Besides it has always been nicer to ride a bike in the burbs with their wide streets, streetlights and side streets away from the main traffic arteries. Sometimes they are even designed with bikes in mind.

    Yes in the West there is a question about water use but as long as the North East has the weather that people seem to move “from” the South and West will continue to grow. IMHO

  16. #16
    Squirrel solveg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
    I remember memorizing the 20 largest cities from the 1960 census.

  17. #17
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Yeah, well I loved that stuff even when I was around 8-9 years old. When I was 9, I could draw a freehand map of the USA, place all of the state capitals in the proper locations within each state, along with the largest city of each state, and write the population of each state. Could have told you roughly what the area of each state was too.

    I've been a numbers and maps guy ever since I was a little tyke.

    I was a baseball nut too. I remember when I was 10, I was challenged to name as many major league players as I could and I named nearly 450 of them (out of 500 that were on major league rosters at the time).
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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  18. #18
    VNA
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    ""It seems to me that one of the questions we should be trying to answer in this country (rather than simply accepting whatever default fate our actions lead us to) is "what do we want this country to look like?" How much development, how much parkland etc?Watching the Tour again this year I am pleased at how very few bill boards you see on French road sides.""


    The tour de France most often goes through small cities and villages where few bill boards are--but in reality it is as bad as the U.S. and urban plight exists as well mostly in larger cities, besides the population density is so much higher!

  19. #19
    Squirrel solveg's Avatar
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    I've only purposefully memorized 3 things in my whole life:

    in 4th grade I memorized "Casey at the Bat" because we had to choose a poem to memorize for class.

    Also sometime in grade school I memorized the multiplication table.

    In 8th grade I memorized the declaration of independence because it was an automatic A for the whole quarter of social studies, and I wouldn't have to do any other work.

  20. #20
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by solveg View Post
    I've only purposefully memorized 3 things in my whole life:

    in 4th grade I memorized "Casey at the Bat" because we had to choose a poem to memorize for class.

    Also sometime in grade school I memorized the multiplication table.

    In 8th grade I memorized the declaration of independence because it was an automatic A for the whole quarter of social studies, and I wouldn't have to do any other work.
    Can't remember what I remembered.


    The UK is overcrowded and we need a lot more new house's (According to the government) Developers have built the houses and now can't sell them as no-one can afford them.
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  21. #21
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by solveg View Post
    I've only purposefully memorized 3 things in my whole life:

    in 4th grade I memorized "Casey at the Bat" because we had to choose a poem to memorize for class.

    Also sometime in grade school I memorized the multiplication table.

    In 8th grade I memorized the declaration of independence because it was an automatic A for the whole quarter of social studies, and I wouldn't have to do any other work.
    In 8th grade I memorized everything that Diane Pearson said, ate, wore, carried or cared about. You and I must have had different childhoods....

    With regard to population and cities: as the costs of energy increase I expect the populations of cities to go back up and for a general trend of people moving south toward the more temperate parts of the country. As a rule, you can survive in the south without airconditioning but its more difficult to live in the north without heat.

    You may even see an increased use of bicycles by older people in the cities..........

  22. #22
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    As a rule, you can survive in the south without air conditioning ....
    You don't know my wife. If I took her south without air conditioning, she would not survive. And I especially would not survive.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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  23. #23
    Yen
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
    .......... I'm not sure I can reprogram my mind to keep track of these population shifts.
    If your mind can't keep track, then I won't even bother to try. I'm a "big picture" person, I don't remember numbers. All I know is that CA is continuing to get more crowded every year and our available space to put them is shrinking.
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    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by solveg View Post
    Also sometime in grade school I memorized the multiplication table.
    Gaaaa! I'm still struggling with that one. I got through college calculus, but I still haven't gotten the multiplication table down smoothly.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  25. #25
    Senior Member ollo_ollo's Avatar
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    It is interesting to see ourselves through foreign eyes:

    In the early 80's a Korean friend traveled by rental car from Portland, OR to attend Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. He wrote me of his amazement at the "beauty of your countryside and the 'grotesqueries' of the cities". Likely more true today than back in the day! Don
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