Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Jul 22nd 2008 at 6:20am UTC

The End of White Flight

That’s the title of this Wall Street Journal report:

For much of the 20th century, the proportion of whites shrank in most
U.S. cities. In recent years the decline has slowed considerably — and
in some significant cases has reversed. Between 2000 and 2006, eight of
the 50 largest cities, including Boston, Seattle and San Francisco, saw
the proportion of whites increase, according to Census figures. The
previous decade, only three cities saw increases.

6 Responses to “The End of White Flight”

  1. Michael Wells Says:

    In Portland, long one of America’s whitest cities, the proportion of minorities and immigrants is growing. I think this is actually part of the same trend toward less segregation. I wonder what’s happening in other very white cities, like Minneapolis.

    Interesting contrast with Bill Bishop’s Big Sort. An example of how more than one thing can happen at a time.

  2. Robert Says:

    Actually you need to look at the details. You have to look at the racial composition of the neighborhoods in these cities which are probably very segregated. I suspect that most of the white people moving back to the city are people with no children and thus no connection to the larger world outside their own neighborhood. One reason I suspect that white people left for the suburbs to begin with is that they didn’t want to send their kids to the same school as racial minorities which they believed were inferior to themselves. If they do have children then they would send them to private schools. Also gentrification plays a key role. When extremely wealthy whites move into core cities and force others to move out I don’t consider this to be an example of any increase in tolerance since there is no social connection between the wealthy whites moving in and the racial minorities forced to move out.

    The bottom line is there is no end to White Flight.

  3. Michael Wells Says:

    There are a ton of families with kids moving into my Portland neighborhood, including one Black family on our street and a few Asians. Many if not all of the children will attend public schools — good neighborhood schools is one of the reasons people choose our neighborhood.

    Robert has a point about gentrification, but in Portland the wealthy folks aren’t moving into the minority neighborhoods. The whites moving into historically Black neighborhoods are younger arty or creative class types, many of whom do interact with the older residents. Buying a first house to fix up, they’re professionals and artists, not poor but certainly not wealthy.

    A recent post linked to an article about Black families moving to the suburbs in the 1990’s to get their kids away from gangs, and we certainly saw that here. Along with gentrification, it has dispersed Blacks throughout the city and the region — for better or worse, since it has both increased integration and reduced the cohesiveness of the historic Black community.

  4. Zoe B Says:

    The last time I was in Minneapolis I saw public signs in multiple languages: English, Spanish, and one I did not recognize. Turns out it was Somalian. Minneapolis has a huge number of Somalian refugees.

  5. Charlie Dodson Says:

    As you may know, Baltimore identified a blighted area which had stubbornly resisted development, blessed it with the designation of an “Arts District”, and borrowed heavily on your particular philosophy to brand this vision to outside investors. I was extremely impressed by your work and after carefully evaluating public policy documents from City Hall encouraging entrepreneurs and creative individuals to relocate to this area, I decided to purchase an old film theater and Victorian apartment in the neighborhood. After accepting an offer from Johns Hopkins my future had never looked brighter until I learned half way through my move that the City government was plotting to seize my property using eminent domain. That was six years ago and I have not experienced a single moment of joy since.

    During this period the public would witness the unthinkable as the City’s quasi-government development agency ran roughshod over property owners rights in an cavalier attempt to seize and package large parcels for their political cronies. While these battles raged through Maryland’s appellate courts, other quasi-public organizations continued to manipulate the creative class for their own selfish purposes. What began as a promise to initiate a fresh approach to urban renewal devolved into a disingenuous marketing campaign, polluted by money from well connected developers and the political leaders who serve them the special benefits they have come to expect.

    Although the courts handed the City of Baltimore one stinging rebuke after another, the lives of many creative members who invested their futures in the community were thoroughly destroyed. From an economic development perspective this Orwellian assault on free enterprise and constitutional rights by the City government would halt economic development dead in its tracks. During the largest real estate boom in a lifetime this 100 square block district would not only fail to see a single successful development, but worst of all, after spending millions our taxpayers would witness the steady loss of entrepreneurs and artists disenchanted by dishonesty and a poisoned environment. For the few established businesses innocently caught up in the power grab for tax revenues and selfish profiteering, the results could not be more devastating, as one beloved icon after another shuts their doors. With big developers staggering from the after effects of reckless spending and visions of shopping arcades, condos, and the insufferable branding a fleeting fantasy of fawning officials, the long hangover will be relentless. But when they come to their senses and realize they’ve chased everyone away and the area is more blighted than ever, they will no doubt blame the victims for preventing development.

    For those who wish to debate the merits of progressive urban policy, let this serve as a stark reminder of what the antithesis may bring. These are the politics of deception and they have the power to deny opportunity and destroy creative individualism. When people are driven to abandon their homes, their livelihoods, and their futures it only illustrates the desperation of ordinary citizens to avoid the machinations of government and seek the elusive freedoms and happiness our founding fathers explicitly guaranteed in the Constitution.

  6. end of white flight « transitional neighborhood lowdown Says:

    [...] October 2, 2009 · Leave a Comment As someone who lives in the city, I am constantly referred to as an “urban pioneer.”  This term grates me in ways that require a whole new post.  However, in an attempt to be controversial, I’d like to throw some blame onto white people of the “greatest generation” for their abandonment of the city.  Last year, The Wall Street Journal published an article, declaring the end of white flight.  After some reserach into related articles, I came across a discuss thread about the WSJ article on Richard Florida’s website.  [...]