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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 12:58 AM
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What Happened to the American Boomtown?

What Happened to the American Boomtown?


Dec. 6, 2017

By Emily Badger

Read More: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/u...-boomtown.html

Quote:
Chicago in 1850 was a muddy frontier town of barely 30,000 people. Within two decades, it was 10 times that size. Within another two decades, that number had tripled. By 1910, Chicago — hog butcher for the world, headquarters of Montgomery Ward, the nerve center of the nation’s rail network — had more than two million residents.

- “You see these numbers, and they just look fake,” said David Schleicher, a law professor at Yale who writes on urban development and land use. Chicago heading into the 20th century was the fastest-growing city America has ever seen. It was a classic metropolitan magnet, attracting anyone in need of a job or a raise.

- But while other cities have played this role through history — enabling people who were geographically mobile to become economically mobile, too — migration patterns like the one that fed Chicago have broken down in today’s America. Interstate mobility nationwide has slowed over the last 30 years. But, more specifically and of greater concern, migration has stalled in the very places with the most opportunity. As Mr. Schleicher puts it, local economic booms no longer create boomtowns in America.

- At a small scale there are exceptions. Some of the fastest-growing counties this decade were in corners of North Dakota, riding an oil boom. And it’s true over the last two generations that several once-modest cities have grown into vast metro areas in the Sun Belt. But what’s drawing people there has more to do with cheap housing than high wages. The places that are booming in size aren’t the economic boomtowns — the regions with the greatest prosperity and highest productivity.

- In theory, we’d expect those metros, like the Bay Area, Boston and New York, to be rapidly expanding, as people move from regions with high unemployment and meager wages to those with high salaries and strong job markets. That we’re not seeing such a pattern suggests that something is fundamentally amiss. The magnets aren’t working.

- The metro areas that offered the highest pay in 2000 have grown by some of the slowest rates since then, while people have flocked to lower-wage metros like Las Vegas, Phoenix and Charlotte, N.C. Similarly, the metros with the highest G.D.P. per capita are barely adding workers relative to much less productive areas.

- Some people aren’t moving into wealthy regions because they’re stuck in struggling ones. They have houses they can’t sell or government benefits they don’t want to lose. But the larger problem is that they’re blocked from moving to prosperous places by the shortage and cost of housing there. And that’s a deliberate decision these wealthy regions have made in opposing more housing construction, a prerequisite to make room for more people.

- Compare that with most of American history. The country’s economic growth has long “gone hand in hand with enormous reallocation of population,” write the economists Kyle Herkenhoff, Lee Ohanian and Edward Prescott in a recent study of what’s hobbling similar population flows now.

- Workers moved north during the Great Migration and west out of the Dust Bowl. The lure of the Gold Rush made San Francisco a boomtown after the 1850s. The rise of the auto industry helped triple the size of Detroit between 1910 and 1930. Other Northern cities like Cleveland similarly swelled as they became manufacturing hubs.

- Los Angeles grew to a city of more than a million in the 1920s as film sets, oil wells and aircraft manufacturing promised opportunity. Seattle boomed after World War II, as Boeing did. Houston’s population took off as it became the center of the country’s energy economy.

- It’s unrealistic to think that New York or San Francisco could grow today by the same magnitude. It’s much harder for a region to double in size when it already has 10 million people. And the United States is a far more urban country today than it was a century ago, meaning that there are fewer rural residents to pour into cities.

- But these productive places aren’t growing as fast now as economists believe they should — and as they would if they didn’t impose so many obstacles on new development. Since the 1970s, land use restrictions have multiplied in coastal metros, making it harder to build in, say, San Jose, Calif., than in Phoenix.

- And the politics of development have become tense, too. In the Boston suburbs, the Bay Area, Brooklyn and Washington, people who already live there have balked at new housing for people who don’t.

- As a result, housing prices have soared in the most prosperous places, making them inaccessible to lower-income workers and negating much of the allure of the higher wages there. Over this same time, research shows that high-skilled migrants have clustered in these areas, while low-skilled workers have been more likely to move elsewhere.

- Were it not for all the restrictions on housing in the most productive places — if workers were able to more freely migrate to them — Mr. Herkenhoff and his co-authors and the economists Enrico Moretti and Chang-Tai Hsieh have estimated that the nation’s G.D.P. would be substantially higher. By their calculations, there are millions of workers missing from the Bay Area and metropolitan New York today.

- The population growth that is occurring in these metro areas is fueled almost entirely by immigration, as Ryan Avent points out in “The Gated City,” where he makes a similar argument to Mr. Schleicher. If we consider only domestic moves, about 900,000 more people have moved away from New York than to it since 2010. On net, about 47,000 have left both San Jose and Washington, D.C., while Boston has lost a net 36,000.

- If these places remain magnets for immigrants, the high cost of housing is now repelling current residents, in addition to keeping away more potential new ones. That should worry everyone, the Obama White House warned last year, as severe housing shortages in a handful of places worsen income inequality across the country and stifle the nation’s productivity.

- To think about it another way: If these highly productive metros would build enough housing, Mr. Schleicher believes that would do more to improve the prospects of American workers and buoy the nation’s economy than proposals like lowering corporate taxes contained in the tax bill the Senate passed last week.

.....








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  #2  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 1:27 AM
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Austin?
     
     
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 2:20 AM
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US population as a whole isn't growing as fast as it used to, so one would naturally expect that its cities also wouldn't be growing as fast as they used to.

Also, people don't move as much as they used to, thanks partly to an aging population.
     
     
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 2:32 AM
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Austin was my first thought, as well. If you look at a two-decade-plus period, there aren't many cities that are experiencing the same explosive growth that Chicago did from 1850 to 1870.

For example, here's Austin since 1990:

1990 - 465,622
2000 - 656,562
2010 - 790,390
Est. 2016 - 947,890


Some of the fastest current growth (percentage-wise) is taking place in suburbs. Three examples:

Frisco, TX (suburb of Dallas)

1990 - 6,138
2000 - 33,714
2010 - 116,989
Est. 2016 - 163,656


McKinney City, TX (suburb of Dallas)

1990 - 21,283
2000 - 54,369
2010 - 131,117
Est. 2016 - 172,298


Meridian, Idaho (suburb of Boise)

1990 - 9,596
2000 - 34,919
2010 - 75,092
Est. 2016 - 95,623
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 2:35 AM
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All that matters is explosive growth that occurred before 1940.

Cities that did that became centers whose built environment will never be replicated.

Explosive growth now? Ho hum, easily forgettable places.
     
     
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 2:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
All that matters is explosive growth that occurred before 1940.

Cities that did that became centers whose built environment will never be replicated.

Explosive growth now? Ho hum, easily forgettable places.
Las Vegas and Miami are forgettable places?
     
     
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 3:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boisebro View Post
Austin was my first thought, as well. If you look at a two-decade-plus period, there aren't many cities that are experiencing the same explosive growth that Chicago did from 1850 to 1870.

For example, here's Austin since 1990:

1990 - 465,622
2000 - 656,562
2010 - 790,390
Est. 2016 - 947,890


Some of the fastest current growth (percentage-wise) is taking place in suburbs. Three examples:

Frisco, TX (suburb of Dallas)

1990 - 6,138
2000 - 33,714
2010 - 116,989
Est. 2016 - 163,656


McKinney City, TX (suburb of Dallas)

1990 - 21,283
2000 - 54,369
2010 - 131,117
Est. 2016 - 172,298


Meridian, Idaho (suburb of Boise)

1990 - 9,596
2000 - 34,919
2010 - 75,092
Est. 2016 - 95,623
Those suburbs are what are called boomburbs, like Mesa AZ, Scottsdale AZ, Henderson NV, etc. You probably knew that already.

I have never heard of Meridian until now. It makes sense that Boise, like other western cities, would have a boomburb, but with Idaho's smaller population, and Nampa being the long boomburb in that area, I figured that was it.
     
     
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 4:16 AM
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Originally Posted by ThePhun1 View Post
Las Vegas and Miami are forgettable places?
With the exception of the Vegas Strip/nearby areas and the Miami waterfront/Miami Beach environs, generally the answer is yes. Miami has a huge advantage when it comes to natural scenery of course being waterfront and certainly has an advantage in culture with its rich Cubano heritage, but much of the built-up portions of both cities is pretty much forgettable.

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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 4:36 AM
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That's like saying with the exception of most of her facial features, that certain supermodel is ugly. And yes, geography does play a role, which is why Miami is in no way forgettable. Neither is Vegas. At this point, most cities, even those more established in the north and east, have some boring suburban sprawl on the outer edges.
     
     
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 5:05 AM
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We're dealing with an original article that used municipal populations as its main data point, and even that counted annexations as growth. Why is this even worthy of reading?
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 5:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
All that matters is explosive growth that occurred before 1940.

Cities that did that became centers whose built environment will never be replicated.

Explosive growth now? Ho hum, easily forgettable places.
It's a matter of perspective. I'm pretty sure that most of the people who moved to the places you believe are forgettable are glad they did. What's important to one person isn't necessarily important to another.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 6:45 AM
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Originally Posted by ThePhun1 View Post
Las Vegas and Miami are forgettable places?
Mostly, yes.

The Strip is a theme park, and Miami Beach is a pre-war city. Most of these cities' metropolitan areas are undistinguished sprawl.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 6:50 AM
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Right, so I'd rather spend all my days in Buffalo or Baltimore because they have older bones. Older and more dense doesn't necessarily equal better, granted the city up the road is like a giant suburb with skyscrapers.
     
     
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 7:43 AM
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Originally Posted by ThePhun1 View Post
Right, so I'd rather spend all my days in Buffalo or Baltimore because they have older bones. Older and more dense doesn't necessarily equal better, granted the city up the road is like a giant suburb with skyscrapers.
You don't have to go to Buffalo. I wouldn't. But I wouldn't live in Vegas, either.

America has very few world class cities for a wealthy country of 320 million people, and that's why most of them are getting super expensive.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 7:54 AM
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World class is subjective.
     
     
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 3:12 PM
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Originally Posted by James Bond Agent 007 View Post
US population as a whole isn't growing as fast as it used to, so one would naturally expect that its cities also wouldn't be growing as fast as they used to.
Bingo. This is the most obvious answer. Chicago's boom period coincided with an impressive national population boom. Between 1850 and 1910 (the same period cited in the article), the US population quadrupled from 23m to 92m. Also, Chicago was very unique and those 60 years represent some of the most explosive population growth an urban area has seen anywhere on this planet. So let's put Chicago aside as an anomaly.

In addition to national population growth, consider all the various barriers in place today that make building homes and infrastructure excruciatingly slow and expensive: zoning laws, NIMBYs and their lawyers, and environmental concerns were non-factors 100-150 years ago. (Case in point, the land for the Empire State Building was purchased in August 1929 and the tower opened in May 1931). Could you imagine Chicago growing as quickly as it did if NIMBYs wielded the power they do today?

A couple other thoughts:

1) For the most part, mass transit was for-profit and projects were privately funded, which made things move much faster.

2) Today's American boomtowns (Houston, Atlanta, Austin, etc.) are mostly growing out in the form of sprawl. Their cores aren't dramatically changing in the way that Chicago's did. For example, Phoenix has grown by leaps and bounds, but that growth isn't reflective in its skyline or its core. So yea, the sunbelt is booming, but it's harder to "see".
     
     
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 3:21 PM
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dallas, et al already boomed once or even twice before the current one, chicago was only 40 years old or whatever in 1890, structurally even younger thanks to the fire. so of course the cores arent going to change as rapidly as chicago. dallas had a real, built out downtown by world war II 70 years ago...
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 3:31 PM
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You don't have to go to Buffalo. I wouldn't. But I wouldn't live in Vegas, either.

America has very few world class cities for a wealthy country of 320 million people, and that's why most of them are getting super expensive.
Most wealthy countries have very few "world class cities" with the vast majority of our cities and those in other industrialized countries there to provide a relatively high standards of living for their residents as well as serve as economic centers.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 3:38 PM
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per the charts clearly los angeles and houston are booming. the metros of all the cities are another story -- not sure how they apply being the topic is boomtowns.

cities like austin and its northern twin columbus, for example, are clearly booming as well. maybe not as much as during some eras, but they have gone from sleepy in the 1980s to a-boomin on the more recent upswing. even if you just look around in-state, sometimes it seems like half of ohio is moving to columbus, has moved there or is talking about it.
     
     
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 3:50 PM
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America has very few world class cities for a wealthy country of 320 million people, and that's why most of them are getting super expensive.
Most people marvel at how many large cities with similar living standards across the board that we can choose to live in and the extreme diversity of those options that we fortunately have here.

Most people outside of ssp simply do not care if their city is classified by outsiders as a world city.
     
     
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