People are returning to cities, and the Census has the population data to prove it.
Even Fort Worth, the city that lacks a diverse tax base and is thought to be an afterthought for many corporate relocations, added more people between 2016 and 2017 than all but three other American cities. The kicker: Dallas was one of those. We added 18,935 people, more than anywhere but Phoenix and San Antonio.
But while the total increases are encouraging, the growth rates still follow the narrative we’ve heard again and again in the past five or so years. The suburbs are far outpacing the region’s biggest cities. Fort Worth increased its population by 2.18 percent. Dallas jumped by 1.4 percent. Frisco, on the other hand, is the fastest-growing city in the country. It leaped forward 8.2 percent, adding 13,470 people to get to a total of 177,286.
Still: the gross increases highlight the return to cities. Frisco is the only suburb to rank among the top 10 U.S. cities in total population increase. San Antonio, Phoenix, Dallas, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Seattle, Charlotte, and Columbus all added between 24,000 and 15,000 people. Then came Frisco at 13,470, followed by more cities: Atlanta, San Diego, Austin, Jacksonville.
“We are seeing that across the country and, in particular, the Sun Belt, which has plenty of room to rebuild and densify inward,” says Patrick Kennedy, the urban planner and DART board member (and occasional D contributor). “Dallas would not have been on this kind of list in 2010 when our population growth was essentially flat.”
What he means: Between 2000 and 2010, Dallas accounted for .6 percent of the population growth in the North Texas region. Between 2010 and 2016, Kennedy shows that it’s jumped to 19 percent of the area’s total growth. Dallas’ population growth from 2000 to 2010 was just under 8,000 new residents, the majority of which can be attributed to Uptown. That was Dallas’ first real attempt at concentrating density, adding walkability (which is still problematic in many places throughout Uptown), and encouraging a mix of uses. You can see the sort of infill strategy that was so successful in Uptown sprouting all over the city; that it runs parallel with a single-year population increase more than double what was seen in the decade from 2000 to 2010 is not a coincidence, Kennedy argues. (It also helps that our economy is doing very well.)
With that growth will come challenges, of course. Dallas is getting denser. You’re seeing increased infill in neighborhoods all over the city, even in places that fought tooth and nail against it, like North Oak Cliff and parts of Oak Lawn. And as more people move into the city center Dallas’ streets will need to safely accommodate additional modes of transportation.
The good news? We know it’s coming. The city can harness the increased demand for city living with smart density and design, which means designing at a human scale that enhances street life and encourages walkability. – Matt Goodman, online editorial director