See ya, suburbs: More want to live in the big city

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BALTIMORE — When the City Sports running store opened here in 2006, then-manager Cami Walker found himself “begging people to come in.” The store was one of the first in the new Harbor East neighborhood near the popular Inner Harbor tourist zone.

“They’d say, ‘Where’s Harbor East?’ and you’d say, ‘Well, it’s east of the harbor.’ They’d say, ‘Where’s that?’ ”

Mostly an empty space until the middle of the last decade, the neighborhood is now one of Baltimore’s most densely populated areas, bristling with restaurants, hotels, shops and condominiums. It has more in common with the glass-clad high-rises of Manhattan than the marble-stooped row houses of Baltimore.

Harbor East symbolizes a population shift taking place across the nation, reflected in new data released today by the Census Bureau. It finds that population growth has been shifting to the core counties of the USA’s 381 metro areas, especially since the economic recovery began gaining steam in 2010. Basically, the USA’s urban core is getting denser, while far-flung suburbs watch their growth dwindle.

Driven by young professionals and retiring Baby Boomers who like living in cities, the trend is “180 degrees” from the last decade’s rush to the exurbs, says William Frey, a demographer at Washington’s Brookings Institution, a research and policy group.

“People are hanging tough in urban areas,” he says. “Some of them are going to stay there for the long term.”

The trend also is driven by increasing numbers of young people delaying or foregoing marriage and childbirth, which often prompt moves to the suburbs.

Courtesy of USA Today

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