Kids in the City

Carla Saulter has a nice article over at Grist that compares differences in personal safety between cities and suburbs. She writes:
The study found that the most dangerous regions of nine metropolitan areas (Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh) are the outer suburbs. (Inner-ring suburbs were the safest, with central cities coming in second.) People, especially children, are most likely to be hurt or killed in an automobile crash, and, not surprisingly, automobile crashes are more prevalent in areas that require cars to get around.
This is an interesting metric, but it's hardly the only metric that matters when it comes to raising a family. Urban school districts, even the better ones, tend to be poor compared to their surrounding suburbs. For a lot of people, this is all that matters. But there are also psychological factors that I'd hypothesize are barriers to more kids in the city.

(from Ed Yourdon on Flickr)

Not every city that people want to live in today was always hospitable. New York, Chicago, Washington all went through some very bad times. Ask someone who lived in one of these metro areas during the 70s or 80s and I guarantee you'll hear stories about now-hip neighborhoods where "nobody used to go". When you've witnessed the downfall of a neighborhood, are those memories always lingering in the back of your mind?

I'd suggest that only in the past few years have people of parenting age experienced cities post-turnaround. Some of them don't remember the time when "you didn't go there".

There's also something to be said about crime itself. Historically, crime has been highest in urban areas because criminals were there, people with the means to do so moved out. Of course, just because suburbs have historically had lower crime than cities, it's fallacious logic to believe that it will continue to hold forever.

I don't expect to see babies flooding into cities immediately, but as the "you're nuts" attitude becomes less and less prominent, maybe more people won't be so quick to assume it's a bad idea.