The AP has early census numbers for St. Louis City, showing that the city’s population is down 8% from 2000. It’s now around 319,000 people.
Damn, StL, damn.
The Slay administration has made challenging the census numbers a cornerstone of their spin. It was strange to hear such sunny figures while watching the Near North Side bleed families directly or indirectly because of Paul McKee’s land acquisition. My neighbors and I kept hearing about evictions, talking with people who were leaving, and seeing moving vans. So many occupied buildings went vacant and often disappeared altogether. Anecdotal evidence seemed to suggest that nearly everyone was heading to North County. If Slay’s numbers were accurate, I thought, there musta been a hell of a lot of people moving in and staying on the South Side and in the Central Corridor.
To be sure, McKee is not the only factor when 30,000 people have left. Eviscerated schools, a persistent problem with crime, transit cuts, ubiquitous lead in housing, and paltry employment opportunities all play a major part in the difficult decision to stay or go. Daily life needs to be functional, and I think that often gets lost in the shuffle of talking about glamorous large-scale projects and attracting middle class creatives to cities. Nonetheless, I think the fact that Slay and friends think they can support a project that seeks to depopulate an enormous swath of the city and still end up with good census numbers speaks volumes about how much they think North St. Louis matters.
I am curious to learn the specifics when more numbers come out, and to hear the spin coming out of Room 200 about this in the coming days.