City Desk

D.C. Is America’s New Second City, Says Analyst

We're number two! D.C. is in the process of dethroning Chicago and Los Angeles for the spot behind New York as America's "second city," urban analyst Aaron M. Renn writes in City Journal:

Over the past decade, the D.C. area has made stunning economic and demographic progress. Meanwhile, America’s current and former Second Cities, population-wise—Los Angeles and Chicago—are battered and fading in significance. Though Washington still isn’t their match in terms of population, it’s gaining on them in terms of economic power and national importance.

In fact, we’re witnessing the start of Washington’s emergence as America’s new Second City.

Renn pins the city's high-living ways on, among other things, higher real estate prices and new residents. But it's no coincidence his article features an illustration of what looks like a giant vulture hanging around the Lincoln Memorial—Renn thinks Washington is a BoomTown, an "imperial city" sucking the rest of the country dry:

Even more than the old leaky-bucket system did, the regulatory superstate depends on inflicting pain on the rest of the country, pain that only Washington itself can relieve—if you pay up and have the right connections, that is. Washington’s fortunes and America’s are increasingly at odds. The region is prospering because it’s becoming something that would have horrified the Founders: an imperial capital on the Potomac.

It's remarkable to think that just last week we were an open sewer.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery.

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/Odd.Phenom Aaron Cunningham

    Kinda ironic to describe Washington as an imperial vulture when the city itself has no representation in Congress and the people doing the decision-making are from... you guessed it, everywhere else. An informed writer would look at a list of which states are receiving more in benefits, goods, and services per capita than they contribute in taxes...

  • Penguin Hunter

    @Aaron: Riiight, because we see no benefits for being the headquarters of the federal government...

  • http://www.facebook.com/Odd.Phenom Aaron Cunningham

    You seem to have completely missed my point, Penguin Hunter. There are benefits and drawbacks to living just about anywhere. Hell, I grew up in Michigan; if you like snow and cheap real estate, I can recommend a few places... But those drawbacks!

    I don't know you and I don't know which "we" you fall into, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that most of the people residents of this imperial vulture city would like to reap the benefits of quality public schools, quality health care, and accessible, affordable housing. Let me know when most of that "we" can say they benefit from those very basic things. And that's to say nothing of something as fundamental as congressional representation.

  • Tom M

    As to quality public ed and health care and accessible affordable housing, I'm going to venture an opinion that we locals elect the officials locally and are getting about what we deserve from such a motley group. Little of this is driven by feds (unless we could instantly be given the power to tax either commuter incomes and/or federal facilities). Even these later items would simply increase local revenues and push the tax incidence on others. That's not likely to make spenders here locally more responsible or accountable for results.

  • anons

    Taking credit for economic expansion when the federal government has been on a 12 year long local spending binge, is like being a realtor in a housing boom...it doesn't take any effort.

    It is kinda easy to do when the Federal government triples the amount it spends in the DC metro economy in a 10 year period of time, (60 billion to 170 billion).

    More specifically, it is REALLY easy for the District when federal expenditures directly into the District grow so much to go from making up 37% of the District GDP in 2000, to 59% in 2010.

    Or in other words, it is easy to make economic progress when the Federal Government spends more than 1 trillion dollars in a geogrpahic area within a 75 mile radius of the Washington monument, all within a 10 year period of time.

    But hey, lets pretend it was all the craft beers and cupcakes that did it.

  • Mike

    Um, yeah, DC is a "No. 2" alright....

  • DC resident

    If anyone is sucking the country dry (cue Monkeyrotica), it's the Maryland and Virginia suburbs of DC. They get all the benefits of DC's counter-cyclical government-fueled economy with none of the drawbacks. DC residents pay for infrastructure for suburban residents commute into and to work in a major city while Annapolis and Richmond get the income tax revenues. DC proper suffers the indignity of taxation without representation, lack of legislative and budget autonomy, it subsidizes its own suburbs, and the rest of the country thinks we're somehow influencing Congress because we live nearby.

  • noodlez

    WHAT THE FUCK AM I MISSING HERE? AT WHAT POINT DID THE DISTRICT START GETTING MORE MONEY THAN IT PUTS OUT? I COULD HAVE SWORN DC WAS GETTING ROBBED COMPARATIVE TO STATES IN THE AMOUNT OF FEDERAL TAXES WE PAY? SO EXACTLY HOW ARE WE SUCKING THE COUNTRY DRY?

    THE MAJORITY OF WASHINGTONIANS AND DC RESIDENTS BELIEVE AND KNOW THAT THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IS THE NUMBER ONE CITY NOT ONLY IN THIS COUNTRY BUT THE WORLD. WE DON’T PLAY 2ND FIDDLE TO ANY OTHER CITY AND THAT INCLUDES SORRY ASS OVERPLAYED NYC! DC IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CITY IN THE MOST POWERFUL COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. TO MINIMIZE THAT SHOWS MR DATA ANALASS DON’T KNOW SHIT FROM APPLE BUTTER.

    WE RANGE FROM SOFT CORE CULTURE TO HARD CORE GOV’T, WE HAVE UNIVERSITIES IN ABUNDANCE FROM GROUND ZERO TO 2 HOURS OUT. WE HAVE BEEN THIS WAY FOR QUITE SOME TIME. YOU WOULD BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND A CITY WITH ULTRA URBAN ZONES TO SUBURBAN SPRAWL WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS WITH DIVERSITY.

    THANKS FOR THE HISTORY LESSON PAL BUT FOR 223 YEARS THIS CITY HAS HAD NAT’L IMPORTANCE SO WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS CLOWN TALKING ABOUT? AS FOR ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE SOMEONE SHOULD TELL HIM THAT WHITE FOLK WERE RUNNING THIS CITY WELL BEFORE BLACK FOLK AND IF IT DIDN’T HAVE ANY ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE I DOUBT VERY SERIOUSLY MONEY GRUBBING WHITE FOLK WOULD HAVE ESTABLISHED IT HERE.

    HIS ARTICLE IS PURE BULLSHIT!
    THE MESSAGE I PULLED FROM HIS BLUE PLAINS SPECIAL IS MYOPIC LIL TWITS ARE FLOCKING HERE IN HIGHER THAN AVERAGE NUMBERS SO IT MUST BE ATTRIBUTED TO THE FED GOVT OVERSPENDING AND BLOATED BUREAUCRACY. YO BALDYLOCKS THE FED GOV’T HAS SHRUNK AND LOBBYISTS ARE BEGGING FOR A LARGER SLICE OF A SMALLER PIE. SOMEONE SHOULD TELL DATABOY THAT JUST BECAUSE A COMPANY IS MOVING THEIR HEADQUARTERS HERE DOESN’T MEAN THAT JOBS ARE COMING ALONG WITH THEM.

    NUMBERS CAN ADD UP NOTHING AND TAKE AWAY WHATEVER YOU WANT THEM TO. DATA CAN ALWAYS BE MANIPULATED IN ONES FAVOR. LASTLY, I HAVE TO QUESTION ANYONE THAT CLAIMS THEY ARE AN OPINION LEADER IN ANYTHING??? I’M SICK OF THESE SELF ABSORBED JOKERS LIKE RENN QUESTING FOR A RIMJOB TO MAKE HIMSELF SEEM SO FUCKING IMPORTANT.

    ONE CITY ON MANY LEVELS.

  • kob

    We have some nice new shiny buildings and a growing number of non-hamburg-serving chains with communal seating and high rents but let's not let it go to our heads.

  • Jes’ sayin

    The same clowns who used to bitch that DC was a failed city and didn't deserve representation - because we were a failed city - have now changed their tune.

    Now they say we are succeeding while the rest of the country is failing, so we don't deserve representation - because we are sucking the rest of the country dry.

    Well, I guess we should seek that boring middle ground, that dim twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat. That'll satisfy 'em. Yeah, right.

  • Terry Miller

    Once again, the writer does not recognize that D.C. is home town to a lot of people. My 24-year old (D.C. public school educated) daughter is a D.C. native and proud of it. She has found when job hunting that she is competing with people from ALL over the world, So, it can hardly be said that D.C. is sucking the rest of the nation dry. Everyone needs to remember that D.C. is not only a seat of power but also a city filled with regular people who are just trying to make a living in the city we love. BTW she did finLLY find a job in her field!

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