To the suburbs

Troy empty sidewalk

Where did they go?

The Census Bureau recently released its breakdown of population estimates for 2008. And while it's interesting to see the bureau's best guess about how many people are living in a place right now (well, recently), we figured it'd be more interesting too look at the longer trends.

So we looked up the population stats over the last two decades for a bunch of Capital Region cities and towns.

To the data!

A quick note: All numbers from the US Census Bureau. Population totals from 1990 and 2000 are from the decennial census. Totals for 2008 are from the bureau's estimates (how it calculates the number)

The graphs should be clickable. Click a column and the total should appear.

Population by county


wow. that sucks.

I feel like I always thought there were more people than that living in Albany. The migration is probably rent related: If I have to pay $900 a month in rent I might as well pay a thousand and have a mortgage in a crappy suburb. Thank god my rent has been the same for 8 years and we can stay in Center Square.

@Aaron exactly the reason I moved out of Albany. I could live in a busy city with terrible parking and noise for $1000 a month for a 3br, or I could live on 1+ acres for $1000 a month in my own house out past east greenbush. The decision was an easy one.

Granted, we've got the privilege of having cars and being able to afford oil heat in the wintertime, but I think people are starting to wise up that they can live 20 minutes from Albany and pay substantially less for substantially more.

@Katie - its definately a give-and-take though, right? We moved to sticks (eventually got nearby jobs too), but we find we really miss a few things about city living - especially movie theaters and Indian food.

I like what Albany has to offer but even as a city resident and supporter, I can't say I'm (sadly) surprised by the data. It's interesting that two of the places with the largest percentage of growth (Guilderland and Bethlehem) are the two closest to the city lines (that said, the allure of Wilton--Wilton?--is lost on me) which would suggest that people still want all the good the city has to offer, without the bad.
I don't necessarily mind the high property taxes we pay as residents, since I am quite pleased with the services we get (could help I live on the same street as a judge, but I'll offer the benefit of the doubt) but I'm not pleased with the high school taxes relative to the *benefit* we get from that.( And yes, even though we don't have kids, I understand the theory of education for the greater good etc.) I'd like to see better results in graduation rates, basic skill levels measured in test scores which, love them or hate them is the only quantitative benchmark we have. (I'm not talking about *your* child's experience in whatever Albany public school they go to--I know there are great experiences and teachers in the schools.) I am a public school proponent, and am married to an educator. But his experience as a sub in the Albany schools and now in the Bethlehem schools was profoundly, dramatically different. (Lack of leadership, chaotic classrooms and a few bad apples spoiling the experience for others was the norm while he was an Albany sub.)

And while the downtown has changed significantly since I've moved here, I don't think it's enough for college students to stay here, since it's not coupled with a creative/well paying/stimulating/room for upward mobility job market.

Depressingly unsurprising.

@Katie that 20 minute commute could get a lot more expensive when gas gets up above $5 per gallon again.

And this is coming from a relatively new suburban resident as well.

@AOA, I love you guys for doing this stuff. Here is another thing to consider. The City of Albany number are even worse when one takes into account that Albany County overall has increased in population.

Not only are people leaving the city, they are doing so at a time new people are coming into the area.

@Katie: I fell asleep at "house out past east greenbush". Probably the sound of the crickets.

Alright, now where did I park my car tonight, hmmm.

It's Albany until the noise drive me crazier than I already am, then back to the K'hood for this gal... Screw the 'burbs.

I grew up in the burbs, moved to Albany at the age of 20, and have been here ever since (13 years). I could never, ever go back to the burbs; I would go insane. Some people strive for the white picket fence and a pool. My husband and I strive for our own Brownstone in Center Square. Different strokes for different folks.

@rebecca: I think you hit the nail on the head. There will continue to be an exodus of the middle classes to the suburbs as long as the city schools remain so much of a gamble (which, yes, seems to work out fine for some people). I see it among my friends and neighbors - lively, productive people who could do a lot to enhance the city if they stayed and raised their families, but who instead feel they have no choice but to head for the suburbs.

Obviously there are other factors at work too, which we could expound on all day. The move to the suburbs has been going on in this country since the end of World War II and our local situation is part of that.

I think those Albany Neighborhoods First folks have some good ideas. Time for a shakeup in the city administration I think.

On a day like today, though, remember how great Albany can be. It's quiet, sunny but not too hot, the streets are leafy and the ice cream and cookout season is in full swing. There's always some free or cheap event to keep you entertained. I'll pass on the suburban strip malls thank you very much (with an honorable exception for Kurver Kreme).

i think you're all making great points. we moved to the burbs a few years back and still miss some things about albany. however, we live a 5 minute drive to the city line and only 10 mins to lark street. our street is very much like the ones we lived on in the midtown albany area before we moved: lots of houses (most of them small), tree lined, decent neighbors, walkable to coffee shop, stores, hannaford, cvs, etc. so in that regard not much changed. i read the comments about hating the burbs and totally understand, but can some of you at least see that there are parts of certain burbs that aren't that different from the pine hills or midtown western ave areas of albany? again, we LOVE albany and sometimes do miss living there, but we are so close that most of the time it doesn't feel any different.

@rebecca: If I had to guess, I'd say that the appeal of Wilton is that it's just outside Saratoga. If it hasn't already, Saratoga's quickly becoming the "fourth city" in our lovely Capital Region metropolis.

After living in everything but a serious urban city for my whole life, when left to my own desires, I moved back out past the 'burbs again, past at least one dairy farm, and out into rural Rensselaer county. But that's only 10 minutes north of Troy and 25 min from downtown Albany.

@S - We are so far out of town we can't hear the crickets. They get drown out by the foxes and the coyotes.

The gas doesn't really matter. It would still be a >140mile commute to work...

I could live in C's suburb (Delmar, I'm guessing?)! I just hate the 4 lane highways and shopping centers full of the same shops and restaurants as the next town over... But like Summer said, to each their own...

yep, you got it, alisonc. what town over has 4 lane highways and shopping malls - guilderland? i don't spend any time there, really, or in slingerlands. i spend most of my time in albany when i'm not at home. delmar is okay, i feel a bit out of place at times, but then i see others walking around the 'hood that seem more like me, and i realize i'm not totally alone ;-) there are some creepy suburbanites from time to time, and i hate that, but luckily there isn't a lot of that right where i live. and i'm on a bus line so not a lot changed from my old commute to work from uptown.

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