Rebounding core cities



Below is a list of core cities in the United States that have seen their populations rebound following several decades of decline. In some instances, such as Denver, Des Moines, San Francisco, and Seattle, the core city is now attained a new peak population. Of the cities on this list, only Denver has seen a significant increase in its geographic area in order to build Denver International Airport. Otherwise, this list is meant to show cities where the core occupies essentially the same geographic area as it did during the prior peak and the low point. Cities such as Indianapolis, Nashville, Columbus, and Louisville were intentionally not included because a significant portion of their population growth has been fueled by annexations and/or consolidation with the surrounding county.

Two other cities, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh appear to have leveled off at their low points. Hopefully, the data below can provide a glimmer of hope for other core cities such as Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, and St. Louis, which are still suffering population loss.


City              Peak Population              Post-Peak Low Point       2014 Estimate

Atlanta               495,039 (1960)                    394,017 (1990)                              456,002

Boston                801,444 (1950)                    562,994 (1980)                              655,884

Denver*              514,678 (1960)                    467,610 (1980)                              663,862

Des Moines        208,982 (1960)                    191,003 (1980)                             209,220

Kansas City         507,087 (1970)                    435,146 (1990)                             470,800

Milwaukee          741,324 (1960)                    594,833 (2010)                              599,164

Minneapolis        521,718 (1950)                    368,383 (1990)                              407,270

Philadelphia       2,071,605 (1950)               1,517,550 (2000)                           1,560,297

Saint Paul             313,411 (1960)                    270,230 (1980)                              297,640

San Francisco      775,357 (1950)                    678,974 (1980)                              852,469

Seattle                   557,087 (1960)                    493,846 (1980)                              668,342

Washington         802,178 (1950)                    572,059 (2000)                              658,893


*Denver has increased its geographic area during this time period, primarily to acquire land for Denver International Airport and surrounding areas.

Sources: Historical Census population data for each city provided on

This entry was posted in cities, demographics, economic development, Economy, gentrification, geography, history, Housing, humanity, inclusiveness, infrastructure, land use, new urbanism, North America, placemaking, planning, revitalization, spatial design, Statistics, sustainability, urban planning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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