Almost half of the world's population call cities home, and the percentage in industrialized "modern"
countries is even higher
America was built around transportation...ports, canals, railroads and highways. American cities grew
around the production centers that depended on transportation hubs, the industries that flourished there.
The East coast offered welcoming shores for immigrants, with plenty of room for growth. In 1900 one
in five Americans lived within fifty miles of the Atlantic Ocean. Today that number has shifted, but
remains one in three Americans within 100 miles of the Atlantic coast.
Living in a city meant transportation, jobs, higher pay (today by an average of 30%), traditional culture (theatre, art, museums, universities), conveniences and the opportunity for housing and a sense of home.
The First World War brought millions of soldiers from rural areas, for many the only places they have
ever seen, to cities and the opportunities and culture of cities young men found attractive. World War II
left GI's discharged far from home, often in cities that were warmer in climate, exotic compared to
"home", with ample post-war jobs in areas from booming construction to ship building and trade.
"A chicken in every pot...a car in every garage, your own bedroom, a lawn, close to school and medical help, walking distance...."
With the Eisenhower years urban sprawl began, the focus on home ownership and the use of trains,
planes and automobiles to commute and as everyday tools of business. Suburbia, and a rapid expansion of urban America continued until the recession of 2008, and in some areas continues to grow.
50% of Americans now live in urban areas, with one third of the population within city limits. By 2050
estimates put that number at over three out of four Americans. For the first time since World War II,
cities are growing 30% faster than suburbia. Three quarters of the population occupy less than three
percent of the landmass, not counting Alaska or Hawaii.
The urban cores of major cities, which were decaying into poverty, are now upscale and resurgent, the 'in" place to live.
Why are people moving to the cities in 2011?
There are short term answers that could mislead but would not answer the question...no really. The price of gas, declining home values in suburbia, loss of farm and rural jobs, a decaying national infrastructure, and a return to where mom and dad lived explain some reasons, but not the larger trend.
This is where I leave it to you to think, read and maybe come up with some answers.
It's an interesting trend, one that is growing on a world wide level.
My guess..."the promise of jobs and of a better life." The primary historic reason for most all migrations over the centuries. But is it better?