Though the world as a whole is quickly going suburban, a new piece in Time Magazine argues that America is going the opposite direction:
A major change is underway in where and how we are choosing to live. In 2011, for the first time in nearly a hundred years, the rate of urban population growth outpaced suburban growth, reversing a trend that held steady for every decade since the invention of the automobile. In several metropolitan areas, building activity that was once concentrated in the suburban fringe has now shifted to what planners call the “urban core,” while demand for large single-family homes that characterize our modern suburbs is dwindling. This isn’t just a result of the recession. Rather, the housing crisis of recent years has concealed something deeper and more profound happening to what we have come to know as American suburbia. Simply speaking, more and more Americans don’t want to live there anymore.
The piece does really offer much evidence for the claim in the last sentence, besides referencing some TV shows and a personal anecdote. But the first part of the paragraph stands on its own. One thing that is, however, compatible with that statistic is the kind of growth patterns outlined by Joel Kotkin, demographer and suburban enthusiast. Kotkin has argued that cities like Houston—more sprawly and spread-out than dense urban enclaves like New York or DC—are the future of urban development. A nice piece in the Upshot digging into post-college settlement patterns recently confirmed Kotkin’s basic point by showing that recent graduates are increasingly moving to ‘non-traditional’ cities like Houston and Pittsburgh. If he’s right, the urbanization of America might result in something that still looks a lot like the suburbs.