Individual people may move for specific, and often personal, reasons. However, if we step back and look at the population as a whole, we can see certain broad patterns in settlement that are influenced by forces such as employment and housing opportunities. The passage below describes recent population trends in the Bay Area. As you read, think about what these settlement patterns mean for the future of the Bay Area.
The overall settlement pattern in the U.S. has changed profoundly since World War II. While the rural population declined slightly and the urban population increased slightly, the suburban population skyrocketed. In 1950, within metropolitan areas, 7 in 10 Americans lived in cities; by 1990, this trend had nearly reversed, and 6 in 10 lived in suburbs.
Bay Area Population Trends
How does the Bay Area population compare to national population trends? Bay Area population has burgeoned over the last five decades, from about 2 million after the second World War to nearly 6.5 million in 1995, making this the fifth most populous metropolitan area in the country.
With respect to central city population, the Bay Area picture is somewhat complex. San Francisco and Oakland populations followed the national pattern for central cities: population peaked in 1950 and declined steadily until the late 1980s. Since then, the population of both areas stabilized and has been increasing modestly.
Looking at the overall regional population distribution, the traditional population centers of San Francisco and Oakland comprise a steadily decreasing share. Together, these two cities made up about half the regional total prior to 1950, declining to 30% in 1960, and to 18% in 1990. . . .
In contrast to the declining population witnessed by San Francisco and Oakland between 1950 and 1980, San Jose experienced extremely rapid population growth (some of it due to annexation). San Jose's population increased from roughly 95,000 in 1950 to over 780,000 in 1990.
Future population growth will continue a pattern of decentralization, as the population of major cities increases modestly, and outer areas of the region continue to develop. San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose combined will capture less than 13% of new regional population growth (1995 to 2015), with San Jose accounting for a full three-fourths of the projected increase. The counties of Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Alameda capture about 17, 16 and 13 percent, respectively, of new population growth. However, the highest rates of growth will occur in the outer parts of the region, in the counties of Solano (40%), Contra Costa (32%), and Sonoma (31%).
1. What trends characterize current growth in the Bay Area metropolitan region?
2. What challenges will these growth patterns present to the region?