13 years ago, DC was a very different city. Crime was higher, the city’s high schools were not meeting Common Core standards, many areas had not been hyper-gentrified, and the city’s population was abysmally low, at only 567,000 people. Today, DC has become a wealthier economic boomtown, whose population, according to estimates by the city government, just hit 700,000. Ranked 21st in America’s 40 largest cities, DC’s population grew 13.20% between the 2010 census and the 2016 estimate, an level of change surpassed only by Austin, Fort Worth, Charlotte, Seattle, and Denver. Due to the much smaller growth rate of El Paso, Texas within the same time period, it is likely that DC is now among the 20 largest cities in the nation.
Interestingly enough, the new estimated population is still notably smaller than the city’s all time high of 900,000 in 1943, spurred by military officials and personnel moving into the city’s apartments and boarding houses during the heat of World War 2. However, this does not mean the new statistic was not a cause to celebrate. At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Mayor Muriel Bowser presented two families of newborns with DC themed baby clothes and accessories. The newborns also received full, four-year University of the District of Columbia Partnership scholarships. Also not to be understated is the growth of the Washington metropolitan area, now ranked the sixth largest in the nation with over 6 million people. When placed in a combined statistical area with Baltimore, the region’s population grows to over 9.5 million, the fourth largest combined statistical area in the nation, only behind New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. With a population growth rate that shows no signs of stopping and a booming economy, DC is positioning itself to be an urban leader of the 21st century. Small businesses are opening up, many new apartment towers are built every year, and the city is constantly luring major employers (including possibly Amazon) to facilitate its growth and diversify its economy. The city’s schools, though mired in controversy, are still in their best shape yet, and the city is opening up new homeless shelters and affordable housing as well. This new population statistic is likely just the newest indicator that DC, in the words of Mayor Bowser, is a “city on the rise.”