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  #1  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 7:05 PM
jd3189 jd3189 is offline
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Was the 80s the peak of the suburban era and the nadir of cities in the US?

I was just thinking about it a few days ago. It seemed like the 80s was the best time for American suburbs. Shopping malls were en vogue, LA was on its way to eclipse Chicago as the 2nd largest city, and a lot of the major films and TV shows of that era took place in the suburbs. On the other hand, US cities were dealing with white flight, crime, reduced public funding, and gentrification was not as widespread. It wasn't until the 90s that things started to shift toward cities again and a lot of the hallmarks of suburban living back then have had issues since.

What do you guys think? I could be wrong but it kinda makes sense?
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  #2  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 7:12 PM
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The 70s were the nadir for us cities as far as population loss in city propers go.

Every legacy city was utterly walloped by white flight in that decade.

My own parents white flighted outta chicago to the burbs in the mid-70s just before I was born.


1970s population loss in legacy cities:

St. Louis: -27.1%*
Cleveland: -23.6%*
Buffalo: -22.7%*
Detroit: -20.5%
Pittsburgh: -18.5%*
DC: -15.6%*
Cincinnati: -14.8%*
Minneapolis: -14.6%*
Philly: -13.4%*
Baltimore: -13.1%*
Boston: -12.2%
Milwaukee: -11.3%*
Chicago: -10.7%*
NYC: -10.4%*

(*) signifies worst decade on record thus far
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Last edited by Steely Dan; Oct 21, 2022 at 7:55 PM.
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  #3  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 7:12 PM
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Naw man. It was the golden era.

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  #4  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 7:29 PM
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1990's and 2000's were great for suburbs as well. Cities started to rise on the 1990's but the latecomers only in the 2010's. Now cities/inner cities/downtowns are growing faster than suburbs in most places for the first time in history.
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 7:35 PM
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I'd argue the 80s was sort of the start of the urban renaissance. NYC, Boston, and many of the Western cities (San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, etc.) returned to growth that decade.
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 7:39 PM
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I think the 90s were peak suburbia and the 70s were the nadir of cities.
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  #7  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 7:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iheartthed View Post
I think the 90s were peak suburbia and the 70s were the nadir of cities.
Yeah, I'd agree with this. Of course results may vary, but generally speaking, all U.S. cities (and probably most western first world cities) were turning to crap in the 70's. And almost all U.S. metros had tons of 90's-era sprawl.

The 1970's meant huge urban expansion in Asia and Latin America, but in North America/Europe, cities were really looking like shit. Even 1970's-era Paris looks really grimy. You could have filmed Taxi Driver there.
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 8:01 PM
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Shopping malls died because of power centres. Shopping malls died because big box retail took over the department stores, which originated in the downtowns of cities. So instead of walking from store to store or from department to department, the suburbanite now has to drive from store to store or from department to department (from "category killer" to another "category killer"). No more shopping malls to locate suburban transit terminals and anchor the suburban transit routes. If anything, suburbanization probably has mostly gotten worse overall, the walkability of urban areas in USA and Canada declined and car dependence increased since the 80s.
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 8:07 PM
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I'd argue the 80s was sort of the start of the urban renaissance. NYC, Boston, and many of the Western cities (San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, etc.) returned to growth that decade.
I agree. Plus that whole YUPpie thing is from the 1980s (Young Urban Professional). It seems the 1980s was all about the "rediscovery" of big cities and urban environments.
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 8:16 PM
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I agree. Plus that whole YUPpie thing is from the 1980s (Young Urban Professional). It seems the 1980s was all about the "rediscovery" of big cities and urban environments.
yeah, the 80s were the inception decade of yuppie gentrification seeds being planted in a lot of US cities.

a movie like "About Last Night" would've never been made in the '70s.
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Last edited by Steely Dan; Oct 21, 2022 at 8:28 PM.
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 8:29 PM
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I'd argue the 80s was sort of the start of the urban renaissance. NYC, Boston, and many of the Western cities (San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, etc.) returned to growth that decade.
Or they merely bottomed out in the 70's but I remember NYC as a kid in the mid 80's and it was still rough. The 90's was when we started to see cities stage a comeback.
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 8:38 PM
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I think we are seeing a new suburban boom period right now as work from home continues and companies reevaluate their downtown footprints. Portland suburbs are booming right now.
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 9:06 PM
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Originally Posted by iheartthed View Post
I think the 90s were peak suburbia and the 70s were the nadir of cities.
Gotta go with the 90's, at least for Northern California. An absolute explosion of ugly houses and office parks as suburban cities expanded.
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 9:18 PM
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Or they merely bottomed out in the 70's but I remember NYC as a kid in the mid 80's and it was still rough. The 90's was when we started to see cities stage a comeback.
Yes, people mentioned the 1980's, but the early 1990's was still rough. New York in the films was mostly portraited as a dangerous, grim place. The movie, Ghost for instance. Main characters were yuppies, but New York was featured as a very threatening place. Few years later, Friends appeared and their New York was much more welcoming and prosperous.
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 9:30 PM
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the new york of the 70s and 80s seems way cooler than anything now tho.
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 9:37 PM
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At least in my subjective experience, by the late 1980s, NYC was already being portrayed as a "cleaned-up" city, definitely different from how it was portrayed in the 1970s, in films. "Moonstruck" made NYC look totally cool, IMO. "Working Girl" made NYC look hypercapitalist and the best place to be if you wanted to be surrounded by corporatist culture. "Bright Lights, Big City" made NYC out to be a decadent place, and a great place to drown your sorrows in drugs and alcohol.

At least in terms of film, it's interesting how cities have been portrayed. LA has at times been portrayed as decadent, shallow, glamorous, dangerous, crime-filled... dating back to the 1940s, even with film noir. "Not everything in LA is all sunshine and palm trees..."
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 9:55 PM
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Originally Posted by sopas ej View Post
At least in my subjective experience, by the late 1980s, NYC was already being portrayed as a "cleaned-up" city, definitely different from how it was portrayed in the 1970s, in films. "Moonstruck" made NYC look totally cool, IMO. "Working Girl" made NYC look hypercapitalist and the best place to be if you wanted to be surrounded by corporatist culture. "Bright Lights, Big City" made NYC out to be a decadent place, and a great place to drown your sorrows in drugs and alcohol.

At least in terms of film, it's interesting how cities have been portrayed. LA has at times been portrayed as decadent, shallow, glamorous, dangerous, crime-filled... dating back to the 1940s, even with film noir. "Not everything in LA is all sunshine and palm trees..."
I love Cher and I love this movie! I thought about it when I wrote my post, but I don't see it as portraying a urban renaissance, but more a nostalgic, ethnic New York. At least to me it has this vibe that the best years were behind, and therefore more in line with the urban decay narrative.

Los Angeles in the movies, well, diversity is the biggest understatement. It can be anything. From Clueless to Collateral to Laurel Canyon and thousands of different Los Angeles in between.
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Yuri View Post
Yes, people mentioned the 1980's, but the early 1990's was still rough. New York in the films was mostly portraited as a dangerous, grim place. The movie, Ghost for instance. Main characters were yuppies, but New York was featured as a very threatening place. Few years later, Friends appeared and their New York was much more welcoming and prosperous.
For movies, I actually think Disney got closest to late 1980s NYC as far as vibes go even though it was animated

Manhattan is portrayed as perfectly normal. Regular people on the streets, new construction, lots of obvious wealth, but still an obvious shady and violent element for people who go looking for it in certain neighborhoods.

https://youtu.be/D6YTXjOwSL8

https://youtu.be/tTFVhlpsuiA
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 11:32 PM
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Ferris Buellers Day Off was one of the most pivotal 80s movies that shifted the way American cinema presented big city urbanism. It invited an entire generation of bored white suburban teenagers (like me) to view "the city" as a big giant amusement park full of fun, excitement, and hijinks.
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2022, 11:40 PM
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I think the early 1980s were the peak of suburbia and the nadir of urban America; by the end of the decade, however, there was building momentum in some areas of some cities provided by the Yuppies who worked in downtowns and wanted to live in city neighborhoods. This was especially notable at the time in parts of Boston, New York, and San Francisco but it was not limited only to parts of those cities. The big rush back into cities didn't come until a big cohort of Gen X fled the suburbs in the 1990s, but there was already a turnaround in the works by the end of the 1980s.
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