Did Obama Inaugurate D.C.'s 'Heightened Hipness'?

Rachel L. Swarns traces D.C.'s transformation into a younger and livelier city to when a former senator from Illinois moved into a stately mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue, and brought with him urbane tastes and an iPod filled with Nicki Minaj.
January 21, 2013, 11am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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While D.C.'s population boom and dynamic redevelopment cannot by traced directly to the 44th President, and predates his arrival, there's no question that over the past four years, Washington "has become a mecca for young professionals who have been drawn to its blooming economy and its revitalized urban core. Once-neglected stretches of the city now bustle with bars, restaurants and coffee shops."

So just how much of D.C.'s "heightened hipness" can be traced to Obama's cosmopolitan interests? "[A] census analysis conducted by Susan Weber-Stoger, a demographer at Queens College, suggests that the lure of federal jobs during the Obama years has played a part."

"Between 2009 and 2011, the number of college-educated people aged 22 to 34 who live here, but were not enrolled in school, surged by nearly a third to 93,354. The number of people in that age group who work for the federal government jumped even higher, by 61 percent," notes Swarns.

"It does not hurt that some of Mr. Obama’s interests dovetail with those of a younger generation that prefers urban to suburban life, even though the president and his wife are less visible in the city now than they were during their first months in the White House."

“His own sensibilities have intersected with the city’s changing sensibilities in a way that resonates with people,” said Dee Dee Myers, a former press secretary to President Bill Clinton who moved here in 1992.

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Published on Friday, January 18, 2013 in The New York Times
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