The US Census Bureau recently released its 2011 population estimates which look at the changes in demographics since the 2010 Census. What is clear is that many big cities in the US are growing, and in a recent AP piece it looks like those cities that are growing are doing so faster than their suburbs for the first time in nearly a century. All of the top 20 cities in the US have seen their population tick up over the last year. When you look at the top 30, twenty-eight of the cities have grown. The two who have not: Detroit and our fair city of Baltimore.
So what's going on here? How is it that ever major city surrounding us has grown, but our city continues to shrink in size. You can easily go to the crime rate (which has been on a pretty serious decrease) or the high property taxes (which should start to make a slow move downwards starting this year), but there is somethine else missing. If you look at the AP article, it mentions what other large cities have done to make their environment more friendly to the younger demographics that are moving into urban areas: green spaces, dense development, transportation options, good housing, encouraging business.
I do not think we are doing the best job of this. What is Baltimore doing about keeping the young, educated people here? What is enticing the graduates of Hopkins, UMD, Loyola, UB, and MICA to stay here after school? What are we doing to keep the young families who could be putting their children into the city public and private schools? Where is the push to improve our public squares (those beyond the reach of the Downtown Partnership - Union Square, Franklin Square) and make those inviting places which residents can enjoy.
We can praise the energy that goes into revivng the Inner Harbor and building Harbor East, but while that is great for tourism it does nothing to get residents to stay in the city or gain new residents to offset those who choose to leave.
This is our challenge to the city. You can have a vision, but with no firm strategy nor sustainable goals it's as good as saying we're going to the moon and then never building a rocket.