Millennials in the city

By Ashley Niemeier

Here ye, Millennials of Indianapolis (that’s all college students in the city as well as the professional working class): new studies show that inner city environments may be making a comeback.

Just after the census in 2010, for example, The Brookings Institute released a fairly surprising study entitled “An Impending National Transformation” suggesting that America has undergone a significant demographic change in favor of cities. And more recently, this trend was validated by even more evidence.

According to an article published in 2013 by USA Today (“Cities Erupt in Youthquake: Millennials Swell Populations”), many of the nation’s cities have seen remarkable growth. In the top 20? Austin, Dallas, and San Diego to name a few. Plus Indianapolis, with a 6.8% population growth from 2000 to 2012.


Photograph by Dylan Lee Hodges.

There are all sorts of reasons why urban life should appeal to younger generations. At the surface these are nightlife, dining options, major sporting teams and other big-time attractions. On this front Indianapolis is certainly not in short supply.

But it isn’t all rosy hedonism. The article also cites the general naivety of millennials as underlying the decision to forgo suburban life and ship out to the city instead. The idea is that the youth of today are simply not privvy to the crises that once plagued cities, particularly when White Flight was the dominant agenda after the Second World War. If such a contention is true (and there is plenty of reason to think it is), it seems to say something about youth perceptions of safety. Perhaps millennials are more likely to feel secure, even when they shouldn’t?

Either way, it’s undoubtedly an interesting time for young adults living in the city; they should feel excited to be a part of a community that holds promise. In this way, Indianapolis sometimes feels like an open book, waiting for its residents to write their story.