I grew up in downtown Chicago – Old Towne, New Town, Uptown, and Belmont Harbor. My family didn’t own a car, we walked to school. My mother rode her bike to work and to the grocery store. We shopped on Michigan Avenue, ice skated on the lagoon in the Lincoln Park Zoo, spent our allowance in Piper’s Alley, and carved our names in the tables at Gino’s East after high school football games. My first major investment was a pair of roller skates with big, colorful wheels. I could skate from my house all the way to the Water Tower along the lakefront by myself. I loved living in the city.
Apparently, after some years of urban flight, city living has become very popular with Millennials – at least that is what I have been reading in the media and online. Aging downtown neighborhoods in Washington D.C. have been completely renovated as significant numbers of Millennials move into the city. Between 2000-2012, the population in the city swelled 23% as Millennials poured in. As a result restaurants, coffee shops, wine bars, gyms and boutiques have replaced empty commercial areas. Neighborhoods have undergone a significant face-lift and are almost unrecognizable to their residents of the past.
Nevertheless, not all cities have experienced this influx of young people. Popular cities, like Chicago, Boston, and Portland, have actually seen a decrease in this population. Some areas that have seen a significant rise in Millennial population are not dense urban areas, but college towns like Austin, Texas and Columbus, Ohio – which retain many of their students after graduation.
Surprisingly the greatest increases in population, primarily consisting of Millennials, are in Southern and Intermountain West cities like Orlando, Florida and Riverside-San Bernardino, California. The large Hispanic communities contribute about 20% of the nations Millennials and that’s where they live. In his article entitled, Millennial Boomtowns: Where the Generation is Clustering, Joel Kotkin, states, “Rather than white hipsters, many millennials are working class and minority; in 2012, Hispanics and African-Americans represented 34% of the 20-29 population. Presumably many of them are more concerned with making a living than looking for ‘fair trade’ coffee or urban authenticity.”
When I was young, I was told that cities grew rapidly because they were the place where young people could find jobs, opportunities, and adventure. Today, jobs can still be found in urban areas, however, the emergence of global markets and the world-wide web has meant that destination does not signify opportunity. Young people today are living in their parent’s homes in subburbs and cities alike. They move into affordable apartments and first homes where jobs are available and they feel safe.
Perhaps adventures can be found where ever you choose to make your nest.
Chang Elizabeth Chang, Neely Tucker, Jessica Goldstein, Cllinton Yates, Marcia Davis, Elizabeth, and Neely Tucker. “Millennials in Washington, D.C.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 18 Oct. 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2015. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/style/2013/10/18/march-of-the-millennials/>.
Kotkin, Joel. “Millennial Boomtowns: Where the Generation Is Clustering.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 4 Aug. 2014. Web. 25 Nov. 2015. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2014/08/04/millennial-boomtowns-where-the-generation-is-clustering-its-not-downtown/2/>.