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Working Papers

Who Lives Downtown Today?

Working paper #543
Eugenie L. Birch

In the past, downtown living meant living in hotels, clubs with sleeping facilities, flophouses, and jails. By the 1920s, downtowns reached their economic peak; many of their business functions began migrating to “uptowns,” “midtowns,” “edge city” and “edgeless” locations. In this article, the author used Census data to examine downtown trends from 1970 to 2000, assessing which cities and regions have attracted downtown residents. The article describes who lives downtown today, compares downtown trends to those of cities and suburbs, and discusses what these trends mean for local leaders working to encourage downtown living to reinvigorate their urban cores. Recent evidence indicates that the impetus for downtown residential living has continued and is broadening.

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