Industry News

Why cities shrink … and grow

Part 1: Investing in America's urban rebirth

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Editor's note: After decades of decline, many U.S. cities are showing signs of rebirth. This three-part series examines a little of what happened to pull people and development away from cities, what's attracting them back, how shrewd private investors are spotting trends, and what institutional investment and redevelopment projects have done to bring some cities back to life. (Read Part 2, "Local knowledge key for small investors in urban areas," and Part 3, "Redevelopment and institutional investment in shrunken cities.") A century ago, cities boomed as waves of industry and immigration first filled urban centers, then forced expansion outward. From 1810 to 1910, Pittsburgh, Pa., experienced more than 50 percent growth every decade except one, swelling a hundredfold from a small village of 5,000 to over half a million in that time and becoming the eighth-largest city -- and the fourth-densest -- in the country. (By contrast, total U.S. population increased only about twelvefold durin...