Talton: With Census saying Phoenix is 5th-largest U.S. city, it’s time to take another look at growth

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Talton: With Census saying Phoenix is 5th-largest U.S. city, it’s time to take another look at growth
Talton: With Census saying Phoenix is 5th-largest U.S. city, it’s time to take another look at growth

Posted on August 17, 2021, 7:42 pm Jon Talton Rogue Columnist So Phoenix is ​​officially the fifth most populous city in the country, surpassing Philadelphia in the 2020 census. Lots of information and analysis is waiting to be unpacked. Phoenix grew 11.2% over the decade, the largest increase in the top 10 largest cities. However, this was the second slowest percentage growth rate in the city’s history; only the 9.4% from 2000 to 2010, hampered by the housing crisis, were slower. In contrast, the city grew by more than 34% in the 1990s. The competition with the City of Brotherly Love was close. Phoenix reached 1,608,139, only 4,342 more than Philly. The latter also continued to reverse its population loss, growing 5.1 percent. Philadelphia benefited from the “Back to the City” movement, in which talented millennials and empty nest boomers chose vibrant, high-quality cities and corporate headquarters followed. In Phoenix the expected growth gas was not subdued. It’s hard to say why, other than Phoenix has been waiting for the official word for years. I remember traveling to Philadelphia as a columnist for the Arizona Republic in the mid-2000s with a Phoenix delegation when we were temporarily # 5. The Philadelphians were very friendly, the cheese steaks were divine. In fact, this is a moment for introspection as Phoenix isn’t number 5 in what matters. It is not one of the superstar cities that are creating “frontier innovation” jobs. These are Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and San Diego. Phoenix is ​​also not one of the most educated cities. Seattle ranks fifth among major cities. Metro Phoenix is ​​number 80 on the list. Chicago ranks fifth with the best parks; Phoenix ranks 82nd. Seattle ranks 5th in GDP per capita; Phoenix is ​​number 148. Phoenix’s position is still secure, his advancement guaranteed. A century ago Cleveland was the fifth most populous city in the United States. Houston is unlikely to be outperformed, although it could skip Chicago to become number 3. Philadelphia is hot on the heels of Phoenix, along with San Antonio, San Diego, and Dallas. Climate change will not be easy for many of these southern / southwestern cities, but Phoenix faces the greatest uncertainty. Philadelphia is a great “true city”. At 134 square miles, it’s practically dense compared to Phoenix’s sprawling 518 square miles of inner-city suburbs like Desert Ridge. Philly is blessed with dozens of real-life universities and colleges, including Ivy League Penn, Temple, Drexel, and Thomas Jefferson. Phoenix only has two ASU campuses. Philly enjoys world-class cultural institutions including the Philadelphia Orchestra (a Big Five), the Philadelphia Museum of Art (one of the largest in the world), the Curtis Institute of Music, and many others. Phoenix’s cultural institutions are dead on, the city lacks the civic administrators from which such as Philadelphia benefit. Philadelphia has plenty of authentic neighborhoods with great entertainment and great food. No car is needed. Philadelphia is on Amtrak’s northeast corridor and the city has numerous rail links (subways, elevated trains, and suburban trains). Phoenix is ​​the largest city in North America with no intercity passenger trains. And while the WBIYB light rail is a success, it is far from meeting the needs of the city. My goal is not to motivate those who say, “Talton hates Phoenix, Arizona” (pro tip, loving the source of your beat or your studies can be a burden on a journalist, biographer, or historian). It’s supposed to add perspective. Adding people is not enough. In fact, people come at a cost – Arizona-style growth doesn’t pay off. Oh, for a more mature mindset, measuring and celebrating growth. I would start by measuring shade tree planting and maintenance. I? I would give anything to return to my garden city, my flawed Eden, from the 1960s or earlier. Jon Talton is a fourth generation Arizona national who runs the Rogue Columnist blog. He is a former Arizona Republic commentary and business columnist, and retired from the Seattle Times business columnist in 2019. Talton is also the author of 12 novels, including the David Mapstone Mysteries, set in Arizona. – 30 –

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