Connecticut's cities just received some good news from what is usually a source of bad tidings - the U.S. Census Bureau.
For the first time since 1950, the state's five largest cities all posted population gains in a decennial census. The population grew 5 percent in New Haven, 4.7 percent in Stamford, 3.4 percent in Bridgeport, 2.9 percent in Waterbury and 2.6 percent in Hartford from 2000 to 2010. It was the first gain Bridgeport had posted in 60 years and only the second in Hartford, which lost 13 percent of its population between 1990 and 2000.
In all, the five cities gained close to 23,000 residents, fueling about 13 percent of the state's growth, and added 10,269 housing units, about 10 percent of the state's total housing growth. Stamford added the most new homes of any city or town in the state, growing by 3,256 units since 2000. Smaller cities and towns, with populations between 50,000 and 100,000 residents, added 14,471 new homes.
Interestingly, cities and towns with active train stations produced 34 percent of the state's overall population growth and 33 percent of the state's new housing, about twice their growth share in 2000, according to an analysis by the Regional Plan Association.
This is good news on several fronts. It means that the relentless suburban sprawl that has characterized Connecticut since the postwar period may finally be starting to slow, or even reverse itself. More density in cities means less expense, less energy use and less pollution, all to the good. The development in areas served by trains would appear to justify the state's ongoing investment in transit.
Having a former big-city mayor as governor may be propitious. When Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was mayor of Stamford, the added population downtown made the city more attractive to business. As governor, Mr. Malloy should keep the ball rolling and remove policies that work against cities.
Connecticut was at its zenith when its cities were healthy, and that was not a coincidence.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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