It’s that time of the decade when we’re forced to get down off our tip toes and stand flat-foot against the door frame to mark our height. There’s been a lot written already about the census in Louisville already, but largely inspired by Stephen Von Worley’s great graphic of population change in Louisville, here’s a roundup of some of the best local articles and maps.
As we know from the census numbers, Metro Louisville grew 7 percent over the past decade, rising to a county-wide population of about 740,000. As has been reported here and here and here, the far-reaching suburbs and exurbs—mostly in the east—are taking most of those gains. While luckily we don’t have that Vegas-blue-ring-of-death going on, the bluest, fastest-growing areas of Louisville are still on the periphery.
The good news is that there are specks of blue also appearing in the center of the city, where the central business district added nearly 500 new people over ten years. The biggest losses were seen in urban neighborhoods surrounding Downtown.
From the Courier-Journal:
The fastest-growing tract in Louisville was east of the intersection of Old Henry Road and the Snyder Freeway, where new housing, businesses and services, such as the Jewish Hospital Medical Center Northeast, have cropped up, on previously undeveloped farmland.
More people living and working in the area has led to traffic tie-ups and battles over infrastructure such as a debate over the location of a Louisville Water Co. tower, said Bill Lawrence, a member of the Old Henry Neighborhood Organization.
Lawrence said many neighbors want to preserve the natural features of the area, especially the land near Floyds Fork, while accommodating growth. He cited the water company’s decision to move a controversial water tower closer to the Snyder and further away from homes.
It’s the story that has defined the past several decades and should make the community realize exurbanization is still in full swing. The classic trap still exists. People move farther out to enjoy “nature;” businesses follow; traffic overwhelms previously rural roads; roads widened and rural charm destroyed; additional infrastructure capacity further spurs growth farther out.
The other big news from the census is what the NY Times calls the “Rise of the Ethnoburbs.” Most of the growth in Louisville in the past decade is represented by minorities and those minorities who have been leaving urban neighborhoods for the burbs as well. More from the C-J:
Mirroring a national trend, Census data showed blacks migrated to suburban areas from often segregated urban neighborhoods.
As residents left for outlying areas, the black populations in 19 of the 30 cities with the largest black communities declined, according to a Brookings Institution analysis.
Within Louisville Metro, the fastest-growing areas for blacks were Census tracts in the city’s easternmost suburban areas — outside the Snyder Freeway.
Take a look at the map below by Eric Fischer showing the racial and ethnic distribution of Louisville which shows that despite the growth and dispersal of minorities, there’s still a definite pattern of segregation.
While I won’t discuss it in this article, the Downtown Development Corporation also just released their first State of the Downtown report tracking changes to the 40202 zip code encompassing the central business district.
The NY Times has also compiled an interactive map organized by individual census tracts called “Mapping America: Every City, Every Block.” Check out the maps below or browse more over here.
Examining the selected maps below shows positive signs emerging from downtown and immediately adjacent neighborhoods. The largest median household income increases were shown in Butchertown and Phoenix Hill—likely connected to the replacement of the Clarksdale homes with Liberty Green. The city’s core also shows—for better or for worse—the highest increases in home values and rent prices with the Downtown area median home value rivals any of the east end suburbs.
The exurbs may have grown versus a decade ago, they are slowed to a crawl now. Home prices plummeted and developments sit unfinished. The CBD would have done much better if not for a lot of the downtown development targeting the wealthy at the expense of young professionals.
Another interesting data point you do not discuss, but is worth exploring further is that without international population growth Louisville would have shrunk over the past decade. Our community in many ways has its eyes closed to the fact that internationals, immigrants and refugees make up much of our growth.