Walking the Walk

Urban design from the front lines

Kevin Klinkenberg

Using urban design to make our lives more enjoyable and create wealth

This site is for all those interested in the making of cities and towns, and especially the lives of the humans that inhabit them. Kevin Klinkenberg is an architect and urban designer who's practiced from coast-to-coast. 

Pittsburgh and St. Louis - winning the competition for young people

Two cities known for their sports teams as well as their own ups and downs - now leading the way in the Midwest in attracting 25-34 year olds.

Sidebar: 10 year increments are a much better analytic tool than "generations" which are far more subjective than objective.

From the excellent Corner Side Yard blog:

I looked at American Community Survey data between 2005 and 2012 for the ten largest metros in the Midwest (at least as I've defined the region).  I wanted to find out how these metros performed in gaining young adults over that span -- the key 25-34 demographic of young adults who, presumably after acquiring a college degree, are looking to settle down and contribute as working adults.  I looked at the net growth of yonng adults over that timeframe, and compared it to population change for the entire metro area.  Here's what I found:

A couple of things I found most interesting about this data: 1) the meme that Detroit is attracting young people in droves because they can easily undertake projects is clearly not true (at least through 2012). 2) Pittsburgh is clearly a city on the rise, and St. Louis in #2 on this list definitely surprised me. 

As society's tastes change, it's easy to wonder if more young people will be attracted to rust belt cities that have been declining for decades. The numbers in this table are encouraging, though obviously there's a need to drill deeper into the data. Some of these cities (like St. Louis which has lost 2/3 of its population) have a long, long ways to go before getting too excited. But, at least there's the kernel of something optimistic here. In my own opinion, most of these cities have a lot to offer someone young and mobile, not the least of which is some authentic old urbanism. They just need a lot more bodies and enthusiasm.