Small Towns

A small town in the U.S. Midwest at dusk, with cars parked on a street lined with historic buildings and a water tower in the distance.

Small Towns Grow Faster Than Cities for First Time in Decades

Cities of 4 million or more people lost 600,000 residents to domestic migration.

May 15, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

Aerial view of wide street in St. George, Utah at dusk with red rock mountains in background.

Growth in Small Utah Towns Prompts Road Safety Concerns

As small towns rapidly gain population, local infrastructure will have to adjust to keep up with more pedestrians and car traffic.

November 14, 2023 - KUER

Red antique stoplight in the middle of wide intersection flanked by brick buildings in downtown rural Toledo, Iowa

Iowa Towns Embrace a ‘Shrink Smart’ Approach

Population loss doesn’t have to be a harbinger of doom. Some rural communities are taking small but impactful steps to improve quality of life for their remaining residents.

August 23, 2023 - The Gazette

Interior of Walmart store with "Low Price $6.98" sign in foreground

The Walkable Urbanism of Big Box Stores

For residents of many U.S. small towns and exurbs, the local Walmart offers a surprising benefit missing elsewhere in their communities: walkability.

August 6, 2023 - Discourse Magazine

Aerial view of large houses in large yards surrounded by trees in Palo Alto, California

New Research Blames Affluent Suburbs for Housing Crisis

Small, often wealthy enclaves build far less multifamily housing than their larger counterparts, exacerbating the dearth of affordable housing near big cities and job centers.

July 12, 2023 - The Conversation

The view down Main Street in Akron, Ohio

A Small Town Makes its First Zoning Update Since 1997

Mixed-use development and a floodplain overlay are the big-ticket items when the small community of Akron Borough in Pennsylvania recently updated its zoning code.

July 5, 2023 - Lancaster Online

Aerial view of Main Street, Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania

Housing Scarcity in Rural America

With the growth of ‘Zoom towns’ and the sharply rising demand for small-town living, rural communities are facing pressure to maintain housing affordability for long-time residents and boost housing production.

April 22, 2022 - Camoin Associates

Carmel, Indiana street

Americans Continue to Move to Smaller Cities

Cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 continue to see an influx of migrants lured by lower costs of living and high quality-of-life metrics.

November 9, 2021 - Governing

Downtown Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, United States.

How Some Main Street Businesses Survived the Pandemic

Despite the economic blow dealt by last year's lockdowns, business districts in smaller cities like Wilkes-Barre managed to weather the crisis.

June 10, 2021 - The New York Times

Christmas Lights

The Anti-Urban Streak of Hallmark's Christmas Movies

The culture war episode sparked by a recent commercial aired on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel shouldn't surprise anyone who has noticed the anti-urban themes consistent in the channel's Christmas movies.

December 25, 2019 - The Washington Post

Colorado

Rapid Growth and a Small Town Recall Effort

A group of organizers in the small town of Elizabeth, Colorado (population 1,700) wants to recall its entire City Council as an act of defiance in the face of rapid change and growth.

October 8, 2019 - The Denver Post

Rural Community

Small Towns in the Western U.S. Achieving Population and Economic Growth

A small town success story in Montana is indicative of a larger trend in the Western United States. Meanwhile, small towns in the rest of the country struggle.

April 6, 2019 - The Washington Post

The 1960s

Mourning the Loss of the Dairy Queen in Rural Texas

As populations shrink, small towns are losing an important place to get together,,

June 27, 2018 - Houston Chronicle

recycled greywater

The Real Cost of Clean Water in One Kansas Town

Pretty Prairie has water with very high levels of nitrates, and lots of farmers that need to use nitrates if they want to keep the local economy going.

May 14, 2018 - Harper's

The red carpet at the Oscars

And the Oscar Goes To...

Many of the Best Picture nominees are set in cities, and none are focused on suburbia.

February 15, 2018 - Michael Lewyn

Public Transportation Provides a Vital Mobility Link in Rural and Small Towns

A new report describes the important roles that public transit plays in rural communities and small towns, current demographic and economic trends that are increasing these demands, and examples of successful rural transit development programs.

October 25, 2017 - Public Transportation’s Impact on Rural and Small Towns: A Vital Mobility Link [pdf]

Small Town Craft Brewery

Craft Beer and Small Towns—A Perfect Pairing

NPR has identified a cultural phenomenon in rural America: craft beer is economic development—and a draw for young people.

October 8, 2017 - NPR via KPCC

Small Town Art

Rural Areas Embrace the Arts for Economic Development

A burgeoning revitalization model uses the arts as an opportunity to bring in outside money while hiring local.

September 12, 2017 - Star Tribune

Bend, Oregon

Corridors Are the Secret to Improving Transit in Small Cities

The future of smaller cities could depend on figuring out a way to improve transit, perhaps not at the neighborhood or level, but at the corridor level.

August 16, 2017 - Itinerant Urbanist

Organic Agriculture

Can a 'New Ruralism' Save Small Towns?

Small towns are in crisis. To save them, it might take a "new ruralism" of community leadership, volunteerism, and ventures in the creative economy.

July 3, 2017 - ASLA The Dirt

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