The New Republic has an interesting piece today on America’s professional class taking over its innercities while lower-class Americans, many of them minorities or immigrants, are pushed to the outskirts and suburbs.
The piece, by Alan Ehrenhalt, describes this shift as going “beyond gentrification,” and says it is more appropriate to describe it as “demographic inversion.”
Chicago, Atlanta, and D.C. are all cited, along with Vancouver B.C., where “each morning, there are nearly as many people commuting out of the center to jobs in the suburbs as there are commuting in.” Sound familiar?
The article says downtowns have gotten more livable for the professional class because they’re no longer home to major manufacturing zones. Street crime has also gone down significantly since the 1970s, so people feel safer on downtown streets after dark, Ehrenhalt says.
Popular culture might play a part too. Many of these new urban dwellers are younger and seem to have more of an innate urban sensibility, the article says. They grew up watching shows set in cities, like “Seinfeld,” Sex and the City,” and “Friends.” A far cry from”Leave it to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best.”
But one hallmark of suburbia is still well-ingrained in this new urban class: They still can’t imagine living without their cars. Ehrenhalt describes one new development in transit-oasis Chicago where residents can ride up the elevator to their floor without ever leaving their cars.
So its not exactly 1870s Vienna.