Urban Institute maps show historic changes in the District over the decade

December 12, 2013

Anyone who has lived in the District for a decade or longer has noticed the city’s transformation, not just in its ever-expanding skyline but in streets filled with more young people and a growing number of whites.

The Urban Institute is seeking to help city planners, foundations and curious residents visualize the dramatic shift in the District’s demographics with a new online interactive called Our Changing City, which debuted Wednesday.

Maps and graphics on the site focus on the historic changes the District has undergone from 2000 to 2010, when its population began growing after half a century of steady loss. The maps bore down to the ward and neighborhood level, focusing on changes in the racial and age mix. Overall, however, the District remains strikingly segregated, with predominantly African American neighborhoods in the southeast and northeast quadrants, and predominantly white neighborhoods in the northwest.

Peter A. Tatian, a research associate in the Urban Institute’s Center on Metropolitan Housing and Communities, said the maps could be useful for planners and funders pondering what programs are needed in a city in which some neighborhoods are barely recognizeable from what they were in the 1990s.

Most of the city’s growth over the decade occurred in Wards 2 and 6. Wards 7 and 8 have stopped losing residents, but the growth is small. Most of the newcomers have been part of the Millenial generation, who are 18 to 34 years of age. Their numbers are increasing in virtually every part of the city, even as the number of children and older residents declines.

The District’s current population is about 632,000, far below its peak of more than 800,000 in 1950.

“There’s still enormous potential for growth,” said Tatian. “The problem we’ve faced is that a lot of the growth has been concentrated in a small number of neighborhoods. If we can figure out ways to attract more people to different parts of the city, we can grow more, but in a way that’s more inclusive.”

Carol Morello is the diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, covering the State Department.
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