GGW called our attention to a recent opinion piece by Gregory Rodriguez in the Los Angeles Times
, “White flight: to the city
.” To Rodriguez, urban in-migration is a new phenomenon. In places like Washington, DC, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Boston, Philadelphia, and various downtowns across the county (see the 2005 Brookings report by Eugenie Birch, Who Lives Downtown?
), it’s not a new phenomenon, but one of long duration, at least at the level of the neighborhood, although it is only with the 2010 Census that the population has increased over the previous 10 years..
That being said, there are plenty of bombed out center cities across the United States, in fact most of them.
My reading of Rodriguez is that he believes that after outmigration, the people of color who stayed in or moved to the city somehow heroically preserved the distinctively urban (versus suburban) design qualities and building stock that made center cities distinctive and potentially dense. He writes:
Once upon a time, a newcomer to the big city was most likely a country bumpkin obliged to make his way among the sophisticates. But the in-migration today is coming from the suburbs, whose denizens are relatively well-off and capable of wielding cultural power in their new neighborhoods.
Whatever is making them leave the suburbs, they appear to be bringing their suburban tastes with them, and remaking the city in their image. Demographers find that these urban newcomers are split between suburban-raised upwardly mobile professionals and empty-nesters.