Urban Flight: America's Dying Cities

  • Going, Going, Gone.

    When times get tough, where do the tough get going? The answer, according to the latest U.S. Census figures, is away from historic manufacturing regions where a still-sluggish economy has driven folks to flee. Rust Belt and hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast metro areas make up the top 10 list of cities experiencing the steepest population declines since 2000. Photo Credit: renaissancechambara
    Where Are They Going?
  • Where Are They Going?

    Texas. Four of the 10 fastest growing cities are in the Longhorn State, with Frisco, a suburb of Dallas, taking first place with a growth of 204% since 2000, and welcoming 6,000 more residents in the past year alone. Other big growth cities in the past 10 years include several in Nevada, Florida, California and Arizona, but this trend has been severely slowed as boom-towns in these states particularly fell victim to the foreclosure crisis. Photo Credit: jamescridland
    New Orleans
  • New Orleans

    The city that was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 tops the list with the greatest decline since 2000, dropping its pre-Katrina population numbers by nearly 27%. But it is also experiencing one of the biggest rebounds. It is ranked fourth as the city with the highest estimated increase in population last year. Read MainStreet's in-depth coverage of New Orleans' residents' housing and business problems five years after Hurricane Katrina. Photo Credit: abundantc
    Flint, Mich.
  • Flint, Mich.

    Situated 66 miles northwest of Detroit and the birthplace of General Motors (Stock Quote: GM), Flint has lost nearly 11% of its population since 2000, Flint has been hit hardest by the economic downturn and the near collapse of the domestic auto industry. And there is no sign that the mass exodus out of Flint is slowing. Flint also topped the list of U.S. cities in decline over the past year – down 1.2%. Photo Credit: nesjumpman
    Cleveland
  • Cleveland

    A city that “rocks,” and has fought hard for the past 30 years to shed its moniker, “the mistake on the lake” has done much to improve its profile. But it hasn’t been able to stem the flight of its shrinking population. Cleveland once ranked fifth among America's largest cities, dropped to 23rd by 1990, then to 33rd in 2000, and 41st last year after losing 46,000 residents in 10 years. The decline is due in part to a trend toward sprawl as Clevelanders migrate to the outlying suburbs, but the city has also been a victim of a weak domestic manufacturing industry. Photo Credit: bobjagendorf
    Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Buffalo, N.Y.

    As the second biggest city in the state of N.Y., Buffalo has suffered decline several times in its history. With shipping re-routed away from the Erie Canal back in the 1960s, and having been abandoned as a rail hub in the 1970s, its population losses have been steady. Since 2000, more than 22,000 of its residents have moved on. Photo Credit: scallop_holden
    Dayton, Ohio
  • Dayton, Ohio

    Another rust-belt city suffering the decline in heavy manufacturing, Dayton has also experienced a trend toward suburban sprawl and taken a big hit from the recent mortgage crisis. Area boosters are hoping that census results will also force a redrawing of the city limits, joining the Cincinnati and Dayton areas to reflect the region’s evolution since 2000, and making a case for a net gain in population as opposed to the reported 7.4% loss. Photo Credit: daytoncvb
    Pittsburgh
  • Pittsburgh

    Home to U.S. Steel Corp., the decline continues a population drift that began 30 years ago with the weakening of the domestic steel industry. Pittsburgh has lost nearly 23,000 inhabitants since 2000, but the news is not all bad for the city. In 2010, Forbes ranked it as the number one most livable city in the U.S., taking into account the city’s cultural scene, employment opportunities, safety and affordability. Photo Credit: hdport
    Jackson, Miss.
  • Jackson, Miss.

    The city named for the seventh president of the U.S. is three hours due north of New Orleans, but appears to be suffering some of the symptoms of a Gulf Coast city. It is also another metro area experiencing a marked population decline resulting from urban sprawl to outlying suburban areas. With nearly 11,000 residents counted out of census results in the last ten years, Jackson is reevaluating its profile. Photo Credit: nostri-imago
    Rochester, N.Y.
  • Rochester, N.Y.

    This is the city where Eastman Kodak was founded, the company that once accounted for 22% of the area’s payroll through the 1980s. With Kodak cutting more than 1,300 local jobs in 2009 and nearly 40,000 total during the past 30 years, the city’s population continues to shrink. Not helping matters in an already depressed economy, the area’s other big employers, Bausch & Lomb Inc. and Xerox Corp (Stock Quote: XRX) suffered big layoffs as well. Photo Credit: marklackey
    Mobile, Ala.
  • Mobile, Ala.

    The Gulf Coast city’s loss of more than 11,000 Mobilians since 2000 puts it at number nine in the list of shrinking cities. Its Mardi Gras celebrations date back to the 1700s and rival the infamous carnival season of New Orleans - and so does its lagging post-Katrina recovery. Mobile’s U.S. Coast Guard station has also become command central for the BP oil spill response mission. Photo Credit: nola_agent
    Syracuse, N.Y.
  • Syracuse, N.Y.

    The winner of this year’s Golden Snowball award for most snow – more than 106 inches – it takes a strong constitution to thrive in a Syracuse winter. Also considered part of the stricken Rust Belt region, it is the third New York city in the top 10 list of shrinking cities, taking the last spot for steepest population decline since 2000. Photo Credit: 43gfoster67
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