Seattle has biggest population boom of any major U.S. city



Posted on May 22, 2014 at 6:43 AM

Updated Friday, May 23 at 8:01 AM

SEATTLE — Collin Young can see the growth from his food truck in South Lake Union.

"I can watch it get bigger every day, all these new faces," says the 27-year-old, who was born and raised in Seattle. "The past decade it's turned around, I have seen it kind of start out, not the best neighborhood."

But it's now the epicenter of what local historians call a rare population boom.

"I think we're seeing what we can call Seattle 3.0," says Leonard Garfield, the Executive Director of the Museum of History and Industry. "This is our third golden age of growth, we saw this during the Gold Rush of the 1890's, we saw it in the years after World War II, and seeing it again, largely due to the internet economy."

Related: Seattle history serving as foundation for rapid growth

Garfield notes that Amazon has brought thousands of new workers to the city, as have other tech companies looking for cheaper property outside the Silicon Valley and Bay Areas.  "We're still affordable compared to San Francisco, New York, Honolulu, and that's why companies come here."

Seattle last year grew 2.8 percent, the biggest increase of any major U.S. city. It also overtook Austin for city growth, which had recorded the highest mark in the past two years, and is now the 21st most populous city in the nation, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.


  • 2013 Population: 652,405
  • Pct. change 2010-13: 7.2 pct.
  • Pct. change 2000-13: 15.8 pct.

Developers like Vulcan and Touchstone are working together to preserve views of the Space Needle and Lake Union among other things. A-P Hurd, Vice President of Touchstone, say the jobs are coming to Seattle anyway, so it’s that critical developers expand the city in a way that will stand the test of time.

“We have to put these jobs somewhere,” she said. “If we put these jobs where there is transit, we can take cars off the road. This is absolutely a plus for everyone who wants to get around.”

Seattle neighborhoods are finding growth much faster than anticipated. According to the city Department of Planning and Development, 2024 growth targets are exceeded in most neighborhoods. Green Lake has reached 256 percent of its 2024 growth target, which includes residential housing. Ballard is one neighborhood that has reached 317 percent of its target.

  • Pike Pine - 347 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Ballard - 317 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Green Lake - 256 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Uptown - 239 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Eastlake - 229 percent of 2024 growth target
  • West Seattle Junction - 216 percent of 20124 growth target
  • Commercial Core - 208 percent of 2024 growth target
  • 23rd & Union-Jackson - 178 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Capitol Hill - 177 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Columbia City - 173 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Bitter Lake Village - 147 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Upper Queen Anne - 147 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Madison-Miller - 143 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Fremont - 142 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Othello - 135 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Roosevelt - 133 percent of 2024 growth target
  • First Hill/Capitol Hill Urban Center - 133 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Aurora-Licton Springs - 122 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Denny Triangle - 112 percent of 2024 growth target
  • Wallingford - 105 percent of 2024 growth target


Among other trends:

• Modest growth is returning to Sun Belt cities that boomed before the recession. Since 2010, Las Vegas has grown about 3.3 percent, faster than most cities its size, but still well below its boom pace.

• New Orleans continued its post-Hurricane Katrina comeback, growing 2.4 percent to reach 379,000. It has added 35,000 since 2010, but it's still 23 percent smaller than before post-Katrina flooding struck in 2005.

• Baltimore, once among the most populous cities in the USA, is seeing little to no growth and has lost 4.2 percent of its population since 2000. If current trends continue, Baltimore will be surpassed next year by Oklahoma City, which is riding an oil and natural gas drilling boom.

Greg Toppo and Paul Overberg, USA TODAY also contributed to this report.