Despite 'Urban Renaissance' Suburbs Continue To Dominate In U.S.

Dec 7, 2016


Suburban classification map of Pennsylvania.
Credit Courtesy of Stockton Williams, ULI

The traditional narrative goes like this: After World War II, upper and middle class white families fled the inner cities for the suburbs. They were chasing the "American Dream" of white picket fences, two car garages and shopping centers you could drive to. The children of those Baby Boomers grew up, fought back and now, are moving back to the cities.

According to a new report from the Urban Land Institute's Terwilliger Center for Housing, the first part of that story is more true than the second part — so far.

While cities may be seeing a comeback, suburbs still have a significant advantage. "Housing in the Evolving American Suburb" looked at the 50 largest metro regions in the country, and found that 79 percent of the population lives in the suburbs. Since 2000, suburbs have accounted for 91 percent of the population growth.

And as for that idea that Millenials are moving into the city? Three-quarters of people age 25 to 34 live in the suburbs. 


Keystone Crossroads is a statewide public media initiative reporting on the challenges facing Pennsylvania's cities. WPSU is a participating station.