Are we witnessing suburban flight?

Larry 'n NassauJust read a brief story about the urban poor migrating to the suburbs and how this is placing a strain on the resources needed to meet their needs. I’m not sure there’s anything new about this given the gentrification of urban neighborhoods and the accompanying rise in property values and rent.

Last October I spent a week in a Greenwich Village hotel. Back in the 60s when I spent a number of weekends in NYC, the Village was where all the starving artist and musicians lived. I recently checked apartment rentals in the Village and found little less than $2,000 a month with the typical rate being in excess of $10,000.

Following WWII the Levittown style suburbs flourished while millions of urbanites swapped their city apartments for two-bedroom ranch style little boxes in the burbs. It was called “white flight” and it caused huge socio-economic problems for our urban centers.

What has happened for decades now may be reversing itself. For a couple of years I’ve followed the activities in the Over the Rhine district of Cincinnati. For decades that area was in decay and where many of the city’s poor found a roof to cover their head. In recent years, however, great change has taken place in OTR. Buildings are being bought up, renovated, made into trendy store fronts and mid to upscale lofts and apartments. I get a weekly newsletter from a Cincinnati group and there seems to be no end to the number of new restaurants, bars, coffee shops, boutique stores, bakeries, etc. opening their doors in the neighborhood as well as other parts of Cincinnati. The Walnut Hills area for years has been a refuge for those needing low-rent. A drive around the neighborhood will show that such is getting harder to find.

There are many reasons for people to return to urban cores, fuel and transportation cost being a major one. We may see a day when the suburbs, our bastions of the middle-class, will become the ghettos of our future.

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