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Pittsburgh Perspectives  

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Thursday, November 15, 2018  09:45 AM  (6)

Millennials and change in City of Pittsburgh neighborhoods PrevNov15

The growing population of young professionals has been at the core of the urban growth story for many American cities over the recent decade. Aging of the large cohort of the millennial generation, generally considered those born between the early 1980s through the early 2000s, has had a disproportionate impact in many urban areas.  Likewise for the city of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, the growing size of the young adult population, along with declines in both older and younger age groups is causing a major shift in the city’s demographics even as the city’s overall population has remained relatively stable.

Using data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), the shifting age demographics of city neighborhoods are compiled in the interactive graphic below. ACS estimates for small geographies is limited to data aggregated over 5-year periods. Here the proportion of population age 22-34 in most city neighborhoods is shown for two 5-year periods: 2007-2011 and 2012-2016.*

While much of the increase in the city's young adult population has been concentrated in Pittsburgh's East End neighborhoods, areas across the city are being impacted by similar demographic shifts. The neighborhood with the highest proportion of young adults is the North Shore, located adjacent to the Allegheny River just across from Downtown Pittsburgh with 61.4% of its population between the ages of 22 and 24. Fairywood, on the western edge of the City of Pittsburgh, has recently experienced the largest jump in the proportion of young adults located there. The neighborhood was comprised of 34.7% young adults in the 2007-2011 period, but increased to 60.8% in the 2012-2016 period. 

Fairywood borders the city neighborhoods of Sheraden (which has one of the lowest estimated proportions of young adults in the city), Chartiers and Windgap along with the municipalities of Crafton and Ingram. The neighborhood experienced its fastest growth during the 1940s as wartime industrial expansion generated new jobs along the Ohio River, in particular expansion of activity on nearby Neville Island, but experienced a continued decline through the remainder of the 20th century.  Today, Fairywood is home to the Amazon Distribution Facility for Pittsburgh (opened in 2014), but the shift in demographics is more likely the result of the redevelopment of the former Westgate Village apartments located there.

Like all trends, it is critical to not extrapolate indefinitely into the future. University of Southern California (USC) professor Dowell Myers has projected that 2015 was the “peak millennial” year for American cities. Future neighborhood changes may depend as much on the ability of different areas to retain the millennial population, but also on their attractiveness to both younger and older generations as well.


* City of Pittsburgh neighborhoods excluded from the graphic above because of the low number of young adults include: Arlington Heights, Chartiers City, Chateau, Esplen, Glen Hazel, Hays, New Homestead, Ridgemont, South Shore, St. Clair and West End. Central Business District (Downtown) and Bluff were excluded because of inconsistent census data for the Allegheny County Jail that impacts census data for both neighborhoods prior to 2010. 

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