To me, the most interesting (and under-reported) story in the Census Bureau’s recently-released city population estimates for 2007 is the dramatic increase in the inner-city population of Atlanta over the past few years.
Atlanta is landlocked and can’t grow by annexation, and for much of the late twentieth century, its population was actually declining, although the metropolitan area was growing at a pretty spectacular pace. Since 2000, however, the city has added over 100,000 residents — a population increase of nearly 25% in just eight years, from 416,000 to 519,000 residents. This is absolutely amazing, and is almost unheard of for an older urban center surrounded by suburbs, particularly one that had long been viewed by many as somewhat “in decline”.
Even booming Charlotte (which isn’t landlocked and can still annex surrouding territory) can’t boast of quite so large a percentage increase. Is it really a “back to the city” thing? Is it about the much-publicized draw of Atlanta for the black middle class? Is it because Letser Maddox finally died a few years ago, and sane people now feel safe in Georgia? I’m not really sure, but whatever they’re doing down there, they’re apparently doing it extremely well.