clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Boston Better Hurry Up and Do Something...

... Because people are moving there in droves.

A report from Casey Ross at The Globe puts hard numbers to hunches: Boston has attracted a ton of new residents in recent years, straining the housing supply and igniting a debate over just how the city should behave going forward.

The population surge has thoroughly reversed the suburban migration that began in the 1950s, when Boston peaked at about 800,000 people. Head counts in the South End and downtown have jumped by 20 percent since 2000. In just one year alone—2010—Boston's population grew by 7,500 people, and is now above 625,000, its highest level since the 1970s, according to city data. It's not just young professionals swelling the population, either. Boston proper has famously become a hive of empty-nesters, too, with older people downsizing from the suburbs in search of a bit of twilight urbanity. It has been the young professionals, however, who have generated the most ink over what Boston's to do about its future—e.g., how hip the city is suppose to become to accommodate this influx of twenty- and thirty-somethings (and even what it means for a city to be hip in the second decade of the 21st century). We put the question up for debate just last week, asking in an open thread whether Boston's relative quietude compared to cities like San Francisco and New York was a draw rather than a drawback. Here are some of the responses:

· I think positing this as a "draw" while making noise from the mayor's office about attracting tech talent and getting college students to stay in Boston after they graduate is mutually exclusive. Pick which one you want, Boston.
· Honestly I think the fact that this debate is even happening is a sign that the city needs to change. This debate wouldn't happen in a more rural setting because people's expectations are lower, but Boston is a city and people expect it to act like one—especially transplants from all around New England for whom New York has set the bar very high.
· I think that Boston is already a 24/7 city enough. If people want non-stop partying and drinking they can move to Vegas. Boston is a hip, fun, beautiful city with plenty to do at all hours of the night...why change it?
· Boston resident for 30 years. Don't know why I still live here. Weather is miserable. It's currently 30 degrees.. 75 and beautiful in Miami.. why am I not there!?!? Restaurants are awful compared to other big cities. Everything shuts down at 6pm. Zero "real" nightlife. I could go on and on...

However this debate over how to accommodate the influx pans out, one thing everyone, old and young, newcomer and long-timer, can agree on is that it has changed Boston's real estate, seemingly forever. A wave of residential construction, the likes of which have not been seen in ages, will be cresting for most of this decade; and new modes of mass living have been introduced into the Boston bloodstream. Ross' lead could, in fact, be buried in a time capsule and retrieved a century from now to explain what the city was going through circa 2013:

Susan Mai's Beacon Hill apartment is a postage stamp of a place. The kitchen isn't much bigger than the bathroom, and entertaining friends is a bit like playing Frisbee in a phone booth. But for all its drawbacks, Mai says she couldn't be happier. She walks to work at a local publisher, eats out five times a week, and thinks of Boston Common as an ideal front yard. Maybe Boston doesn't need to hurry up after all.
· Boston Humming as Appeal of Life in City Booms [Globe]
· Open Thread [Curbed Boston]
· Downtown Boston Is Just One Big Empty Nest [Curbed Boston]
· Group Wanting to Make Boston Hip Loves Boston the Way It Is [Curbed Boston]
· Our Updated Residential Heatmap: 66 Projects and Counting [Curbed Boston]
· Are Boston Micro-Apartments for Real? [Curbed Boston]