America’s urban downtowns were neglected for decades, abandoned for newer malls in the suburbs and bigger homes on the edge of town. The construction of new highways helped speed their decline. And rising crime nearly killed them.
That’s the story of much of the second half of the 20th century in cities such as Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago. But newly unveiled housing data dating back to 1990 show that these long-shunned city centers have been attracting Americans again. According to detailed data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, home prices over the past 25 years have appreciated more in the heart of big cities than just about anywhere else.
“After decades of hollowing out,” write FHFA economists Alexander Bogin, William Larson and William Doerner, “center-cities are becoming increasingly popular.”
In the Washington area, the highest price appreciation is in parts of downtown Washington.