We’re at the midpoint between the 2010 & 2020 Census, in six years we’ll have the results of the 2020 Census. St. Louis’ population peaked in the 1950 Census — dropping in the following 6. Here’s a quick look:
I think these figures are a reflection of what was happening in the city & region in each decade. In the 50s you had the start of Urban Renewal Programs clearing out older neighborhoods, end of restrictive covenants/white flight, and initial highway construction in the city, in St. Louis County new subdivisions sprang up to accommodate the middle classes fleeing the city. This continued in the 60s & 70s. In the 80s & 90s it there wasn’t the big Urban Renewal or highways — decay was allowed to take hold in many areas. Now you began to see Black flight as middle class African-Americans left the city, largely for North County.
This continued in the 2000s but downtown and its perimeter areas we saw a boom in loft conversions and the addition of other new housing units in the central city. A result of the 2000s building boom, we saw the 2010 Census loss drop below 10%, as the city finally offered a little of the urban/walkable neighborhoods a segment of the general public desires. To be sure, most of the market likes suburbia.
For decades the city tried to remake itself into the suburban ideal — but this failed to appeal to those seeking suburbia as well as those seeking urban/walkable lifestyles. Some, sadly, think the city should continue down the suburbanization path — even though we have decades of huge losses to show that strategy is a total failure. Just as urbanists aren’t drawn to places like New Town St. Charles, suburbanites aren’t drawn to our city version of suburbia. Both are compromises that attract a small segment. The only strategy to limit losses in the city is urbanization.
The last 5 years we haven’t been doing much to add units in existing urban/walkable neighborhoods nor have we worked to turn more in the urban/walkable direction. This is why I think we’ll see another loss in 2020. If we lose another 28,895 people that would represent a 9% loss, and put us at 290,399. A loss of 19,294 would put us at 300,000 — this would be a 6% loss. I think our loss will be between 20,000-25,000.
North St. Louis County will see middle class blacks & whites leave in large numbers, but see an influx of lower income blacks from North city for newer housing. Of course this is all speculation at this point, the count will start in 5 years and we’ll know the results in 6. Ward boundaries will be redrawn based on these numbers — down to 14 from 28 based on a charter change approved a few years ago. We still have five years to take action.
In the Sunday Poll more than half also think we’ll see a loss, while nearly 40% think we’ll see a gain. Here are the results:
Q: St. Louis’ 2010 population was 8.3% less than 2000 — the smallest decline since the 1950 peak. What change will the 2020 Census reveal?
- Less than 5% LOSS 10 27.78%]
- Less than 1% GAIN 7 19.44%]
- Less than 10% LOSS 4 11.11%]
- TIE: 3 [8.33%]
- Less than 5% GAIN
- Greater than 10% LOSS
- TIE: 2 [5.56%]
- Less than 1% LOSS
- Less than 10% GAIN
- Greater than 10% GAIN
- Unsure/No Answer 1 [2.78%]
My curiosity is if the Wards/Census tracks that had gains in 2010 can hold onto those in 2020.
— Steve Patterson