Middle Class America Moves Downtown

Shift could spark suburban slums, experts fear
By Kate Rockwood,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2008 3:56 PM CDT
Homes are selling for $1 million in Logan Square, despite the housing recession. To call the trend gentrification is to not see the larger, national shift in cities, writes Alan Ehrenhalt.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Middle class Americans are moving back downtown, pushing out minority groups and reversing the 20th century trend of "white flight," Alan Ehrenhalt writes in the New Republic. Why the shift? Downtown areas are safer, industries have moved out, and rising fuel prices make suburban commutes less attractive. "Our own cities have been changing right in front of us," Ehrenhalt writes.

Some experts debunk the trend, and others fear the creation of suburban slums, but Ehrenhalt sees a positive change—toward Jane Jacobs' vision of a safe, busy downtown where families can stroll and shop. Ehrenhalt writes that young elites "are drawn to the densely packed urban life that they saw on television and found vastly more interesting than the cul-de-sac world they grew up in."