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No kidding: Minneapolis has a low population of children

school buses
MinnPost file photo by Bill Kelley
Between the 1920s and 2017, the share of households in Minneapolis made up of parents living with their kids declined from a third to less than a fifth.

In recent years, Minneapolis city leaders have set a goal of growing the city’s population.

There are two ways to do that: One is to bring new residents from somewhere else. The other is for Minneapolitans to have more kids.

The latter strategy might present a problem, considering Minneapolis’ current kid count. There are fewer households with kids (as a proportion of the total population) in Minneapolis than in Minnesota as a whole. There are fewer in Minneapolis than St. Paul. In fact, Minneapolis is behind many major U.S. cities in terms of households with children. And Minneapolis’ numbers have been dropping for decades.

So why aren’t there more minors in the Mill City?

Fewer kids

Between the 1920s and 2017, the share of households in Minneapolis made up of parents living with their kids declined from a third to less than a fifth.

That’s not unique to Minneapolis. The share of households with kids has been declining in the U.S. as a whole in recent years as fertility rates drop: people are having fewer children and more people are having no children at all.

Adults living with own children, 1920 to 2017
Data show households where adults live with their own children, which excludes children living with grandparents or others as guardians, based on the decennial Census from each year except 2017, which comes from the American Community Survey. Data not available for 1970.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, IPUMS

But it’s not just that. Since the middle of the last century, families with children have increasingly moved to suburbs rather than remain in cities.


Families with the means to move out of cities have been doing so in large numbers since the post-World War II era, said Alexandra Lange, the architecture critic for Curbed and the author of “The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids.”

Several factors contributed to the rapid suburbanization of U.S. metro areas in the post-war years. Relatively new 30-year mortgages and the GI bill made homeownership attainable for more Americans. A baby boom left young parents looking for places to raise their kids, and Civil Rights era reforms, including the integration of schools following 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education, spurred white flight to the suburbs.

While early, Levittown-style suburban tract homes didn’t include a lot of extra space, the ranch-style houses in vogue in the ’60s were bigger, making room for new ideas about what kids needed: playrooms, and often a bedroom for each kid, Lange said.

“The expectations get raised and then it’s harder to fulfill those expectations in an apartment in a city,” Lange said.

In Minneapolis, there’s a dropoff between the share of the population made up by children under 5 and the share of the population age 5 to 9, suggesting many families are moving before their kids hit school age.

Children are much more common in the Twin Cities suburbs than in the cities. Suburbs like Lakeville, Shakopee, Woodbury and Brooklyn Park have about twice the share of households with kids Minneapolis does.

Households with children by Minneapolis/St. Paul suburb
Data show share of households that include one or more person under the age of 18.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

But while dropping fertility rates and suburbanization can help explain why fewer households have kids – especially in the cities, it doesn’t explain why Minneapolis has fewer households with kids than other big cities.

Minneapolis

Today, the share of households with any members under 18 in Minneapolis is 23 percent. That’s even lower than in Chicago (27 percent),  New York and Los Angeles (30 percent) and St. Paul (32 percent), but higher than in Seattle (20 percent) or San Francisco (19 percent).

Share of households with children, select cities
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, IPUMS

There are a few potential reasons Minneapolis sticks out, said Megan Dayton, senior demographer at the Minnesota State Demographic Center. Part of it likely has to do with the city’s racial and ethnic composition.


Women who are white have the lowest fertility rate of women of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S. Minneapolis is whiter (60 percent) than St. Paul (52 percent) or New York City (32 percent).

“So that kind of, to me, explains some of the difference we’re seeing,” Dayton said.

Another possible factor: young people don’t tend to move to expensive West Coast metros like San Francisco — where people like to joke that there are more dogs than kids — or Seattle, to raise kids.

Relative to those cities, Minneapolis is more affordable. And the traffic isn’t as bad.

People who want to work in the cities and raise their kids elsewhere don’t necessarily have to commit to spending hours in the car every day.


Houses can also be significantly cheaper in the suburbs than in some Minneapolis neighborhoods.

Keeping kids

Of course, there’s the question of whether having more or less kids matters to cities. Lange thinks it does.

“We don’t often talk about age diversity, but in cities where everyone’s the same age and they move through quickly, it can become a monoculture,” she said. “It often means people aren’t as invested politically or economically in a city so they may ignore things or use their income to get out of things.”

Building kid-friendly cities is important in keeping families in cities, said Brent Toderian, a city planning consultant and former chief planner in Vancouver, Canada, a city that has significantly increased the number of families with children living in its urban core.

There are three factors, Toderian said, that can help encourage families to stay in cities.

The first is housing. Vancouver currently has a requirement that at least 25 percent of new housing units have at least two bedrooms, and at least 10 percent have at least three bedrooms, Toderian said.

“If not for that condition, you would not get two or three bedroom units built, not because they aren’t viable but because they aren’t as profitable per square foot,” he said.

The second is amenities. Parents are unlikely to want to live in a downtown if all the child care facilities, preschools and schools are far away.

“You may have housing that can fit families, but if families have to go outside the downtown for everything families need, that’s a problem,” he said.

The third factor in attracting families, Toderian said, is the public realm. Things like playgrounds and streets that are easy to navigate with kids.

Urban opportunities

Ryan and Catherin Gau grew up in the suburban communities, he in Monticello and she in Eden Prairie. While attending the University of Minnesota, they fell in love with Minneapolis. In 2001, they bought a house in Minneapolis’ Nokomis neighborhood and settled in.

When their eldest child was three, they put the Nokomis house up for sale, with the thought of moving to the suburbs.

“I think it was what we thought we had to do. We’d heard stories of peers of ours who were maybe a little older or the same age having children. It was sort of the natural progression,” Ryan Gau said. But after the house was on the market for about two months,“we thought ‘what are we doing?’”

They loved their neighborhood and they still loved living in Minneapolis.

As the kids got older it came time to think about schools. Gau, a teacher, said Minneapolis schools have lessons to teach his kids that they wouldn’t be as likely to learn in suburban schools, where more of the students would look like them.

“As a teacher myself, I didn’t buy into the narrative that city schools are bad and suburban schools are good,” he said.

Now in eighth and fourth grade, the couple’s kids are at Minneapolis’ Keewaydin and Wenonah schools. The family plans to send their kids to Roosevelt when they hit high school.

Outside of school, Gau says his kids have opportunities they wouldn’t in the suburbs. They can hop on their bikes and easily get to Nokomis Beach or the coffee shop down the street to meet friends.

“We’ve had a pretty unstructured summer with my children. They text a friend, they make plans and they go,” he said.

Comments (35)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 08/02/2019 - 10:36 am.

    My grandchildren seem pretty happy to be in the city, but then, they’ve lived in Minneapolis all their lives, and have no experience with other residential environments. What does seem apparent, for those with the inclination, is that a host of cultural facilities are far more conveniently accessed from their city neighborhood than would be the case if they lived, for example, in Lakeville, or out on the fringe in Rogers or Inver Grove Heights.

    They’re frequent visitors to the Science Museum, MIA, the Bell Museum, etc., and the Minneapolis plan of having a park no farther away than 6 blocks has provided them with untold hours of recreation in a variety of settings, from tot lot playground equipment to wading pools and splash pads to swimming pools and athletic fields. But there’s an important caveat to all those amenities.

    That caveat is that the amenities are generally easiest to access – and safest to access – in areas that I can only characterize as “residential.” Nothing about downtown proper strikes me as family-friendly if the family includes small children, and while the Twin Cities may be great for cyclists, my experience and observations have been that cyclists are just as dismissive, perhaps more so, of small pedestrians as are the motorists who are more often assumed to be hostile to people on foot.

    In the end, whether an area seems “kid-friendly” or not probably depends upon the character of the particular neighborhood, and some are more friendly – to children, especially – than others. The state demographer’s office might have some data on that sort of thing.

  2. Submitted by David Markle on 08/02/2019 - 11:32 am.

    Nevertheless, in my long-time neighborhood of Cedar Riverside (the West Bank) in Minneapolis, we have a problem relating to the needs of many children. The Riverside Plaza complex, in the first place never intended nor designed for families with children, houses many children whose recreational needs are only partially satisfied by the adjacent Coyle center that needs to be expanded in order to satisfy needs.

    And now the Council Member Abdi Warsame, Mayor Frey, (and presumably the likely developer George Sherman who has used Riverside Plaza for many years as a cash cow for his vast real estate empire) have suddenly, without warning, dropped a development bomb on us, in the form of a non-negotiable plan to erect a building of at at least 10 stories hat will contain an “African Mall” on the large nearby parking lot to the rear of the Red Sea bar and Keefer Court bakery. The plan will make the already remarkably high housing density even higher, creating even more pressure on social service providers. It will create unsurmountible traffic issues on 4th Street where school buses already have problems. Somali mothers immediately expressed opposition when they heard of the plan, voicing concerns about a mall as a troublesome hangout for teenagers as well as the current pressing needs for more recreational facilities and more green space.

    In addition, neighborhood businesses will suffer because of lost or reduced parking for their critical parking needs, including Cedar Cultural Center, Mixed Blood Theater, Midwest Mountaineering, Red Sea Bar, Lucky Dragon Restaraurant and others. Existing immigrant-owned businesses are concerned about competition from new competitors from outside the neighborhood who will try to establish themselves in a new mall.

    I have not seen such united opposition to anything in our neighborhood since the U.S. Postal Service took away our post office.

    Finally, with so little time between the announcement and the City’s request for proposals, together with the fact that this plan uses publicly owned land and will require public subsidies to achieve its purpose, the “engineering” of this process to effectively exclude all but one developer appears to be a little crooked, a little corrupt,

    And the needs of the many children concentrated in a very small urban area have been completely disregarded.

  3. Submitted by Mary Pattock on 08/02/2019 - 12:30 pm.

    The Minneapolis 2040 plan makes it nearly impossible for housing to be built to accommodate families with children. I was on a tour of downtown development with David Frank, the head of development in Minneapolis, this past week, and asked him if all those studios and one bedrooms that are being built mean that we are driving families out of the city. He did not disagree.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 08/02/2019 - 01:10 pm.

      Why would anything in the 2040 plan make it impossible to build family housing? The plan makes it possible to build more housing and more types of housing.

      And why would building studios and one bedrooms drive people out of the city?

      • Submitted by Mark Iezek on 08/05/2019 - 08:56 am.

        The plan wouldn’t drive people in general out of the city, but replacing or remodeling single family homes with studio and one-bedroom apartments, whether in duplexes, triplexes, or larger buildings, would drive families with children out of the city. Families with children do not want to live in studio or one-bedroom apartments.

  4. Submitted by John Webster on 08/02/2019 - 01:15 pm.

    This article provides various reasons and data why Minneapolis has a low population of children. There is one huge reason that dwarfs all others combined: only a very low percentage – probably single digit – of parents are willing to send their kids to Minneapolis public schools. Parents who remain in the city are overwhelmingly in one of these categories: (1) Too poor to move to a more costly suburb (2) Homeschoolers (3) Parents who send their kids to charter schools, private schools, or who open enroll in suburban public schools.

    It’s as simple as that in Minneapolis and probably every other big city in America. I’ve made this point numerous times over the last five years on liberal-leaning blogs and publications, and I’ve always received outraged responses from readers who cite anecdotal evidence of people they know (including themselves) who stayed in the city rather than moving to a suburb by the time the oldest child reached kindergarten age. The cold fact is that parents of all races leave the big city public schools when they can – very few exceptions to this rule.

    • Submitted by Ryan Nygard on 08/02/2019 - 04:25 pm.

      As a resident of Minneapolis, and a parent, I am curious as to where you are getting your data, or assumptions, about parents in Minneapolis. I can personally say that almost none of the other parents I’ve interacted with fall into the three categories that you laid out. And I’m not outraged by your statement. I’m just curious, I suppose.

    • Submitted by Lee Tate on 08/02/2019 - 05:26 pm.

      I agree with John Webster, and it’s disingenuous to pretend this is not a significant barrier to families moving to Minneapolis. Several years ago, I accepted a position in a Twin Cities suburb, and had two months to move from Texas. Having a son in middle school, every one of my new co-workers warned us away from the cities primarily because of the public schools.

      We moved to Minneapolis anyway because we prefer the conveniences and amenities of city living. But we also fit two of the aforementioned categories, namely, we homeschooled our son through middle school, and enrolled him in private school for high school. The high school we are zoned for is South, if we couldn’t homeschool or afford private, we would move before having our son attend there.

      • Submitted by Anita Newhouse on 08/02/2019 - 08:37 pm.

        Interesting perspective you have there. My husband and I both graduated from a highly selective college, have advanced degrees or study, professional jobs and fought to get our three kids into South High, where all have taken primarily Advanced Placement or actual college credited courses. My older two achieved ACT scores above 32 with little effort due to the excellent education they received. One was awarded a Presidential scholarship from another highly selective liberal arts college and her peers from South attend Stanford, Eckerd, MIT, Carleton, Grinnell, Wellsley and a host of other selective colleges. Youngest child attends South where he’s had the opportunity to learn to be an accomplished musician on alto, tenor, soprano and baritone saxophones. His jazz band at South are perpetual state champions. We have many friends and family members with kids who live in twin cities suburbs and none of them get access to what my kids get at South. My husband and I have come to the belief that suburban parents are looking for a social club/network more than the optimal learning environments for their kids and trashing urban public schools makes it easier to justify that.

        • Submitted by Lee Tate on 08/03/2019 - 06:37 am.

          That’s an outstanding outcome for your children, and kudos to them and you for their success. The more pertinent question to my mind, however, is the overall results of the student body at large. I found South’s reputation in this regard, like most public schools in the Cities, to be disparate and underwhelming.

          Anecdotal stories of individual successes aside, these do not negate my concern that most public high school students in Minneapolis are subjected to a typical industrial-based classroom management style that characterizes so many city (and even larger suburban) schools. Of course, a select number of students are recognized and enabled to become college material, but a significant many are merely funneled into low achieving tracts, or worse, drop out altogether. It seems the only way for staff to maintain control over their burgeoning classes is for a certain subset therein of less talented teachers and administrators to resort to authoritarian, conflict-ridden tactics that favor conformists and creates targets out of the non-compliant, cultural outsiders, or independent minded students.

          That system results in an uneven distribution of success stories and also a culture of resentment, bullying, and further entrenchment of social economic and cultural groups. I call it the feed-lot education system, where most students are trapped and force fed a diet of mediocrity and low expectations.

          Regarding suburban parents, I suspect a good many of them are motivated by fear of crime and racial tensions in big city schools, than just a desire to network. Private school parents do seem more invested in networks. We chose the private school our son attends for none of those reasons, but because, as stated above, we found the industrial school environment pervasive in many of these city public schools to be dehumanizing. The school he attends is based upon 100% of graduating students being accepted into 4-year colleges. Forty percent of his class are comprised of minorities, and at least half of the student body recieves financial aid.

          I share this not to argue an apples to apples comparison. Clearly, it cannot be in that a private school body is inherently self-selective, whereas a school like South is geographically selective. I do not blame South for its challenges, because the problem in my view is the model (industrial, mass production education), itself. The negative aspects of such a model are merely enhanced by the environmental issues of city politics, local funding, crime, disparate populations, etc. Nonetheless, the fact remains: if Minneapolis wishes to attract more families with school aged children, it needs to acknowledge and address that its education systems in middle and high schools especially, are simply not providing a quality education –universally, across the board–for their respective populations.

          So sincere congratulations to your children, for they are exceptional to achieve the results they have in an inherently unjust environment. So you understand where my perspective comes from, I am myself a product of K-12 public schools, first in a large east coast city, and later in a small southern town, in the grips of the immediate after effects of racial integration and bussing policies. I am very leery of inherent racial inequities in school districts as a result, and the huge racial disparities on display in Minneapolis public schools between white and black students were yet another red flag to me that I did not want my son exposed to the same type of institutionalized racism as what I saw growing up.

          My undergrad was likewise earned in a public university. My views have been formed by my experiences and research on the philosophy and history of education. I hope you understand this is not meant as an attack on South High students, nor any of its good teachers and quality staff there. My criticism is not specific to this one school but more a meta analysis of a system which perpetuates a poor educational model across the district.

          • Submitted by Anita Newhouse on 08/04/2019 - 12:17 am.

            Well your impressions of South are indeed those of one looking from the outside as well as through a specific ideological lens and you obviously have never set foot in the building. Ironically South High is the one building in MPS that is not predicated on the factory school model but is an authentic community of smallish and culturally distinct learning cohorts and programs. It’s like a small city really with unique constituencies that require their independent programming and resource requirements. South is the most atypical high school in the district. The school community at South has determined it’s own mission-separate from MPS- to be that we are traditionally focused on underrepresented students who we support through academic rigor and cultural respect. When 1250 students out of 1800 land on the A/B honor roll in a semester while coming from multiple different tracks such as Project Lead the Way (Engineering), Music/Arts, Open ( collaborative, portfolio), Liberal Arts or any of the city wide special education Cohorts and all the various combinations of these the differences in how they got there matters. MPS has worked feverishly to collapse distinct learning communities into a streamlined, highly recognizable high school model but the South community has resisted mightily. As an educational community, the staff, Admin, students and the host of greater community members and orgs that participate in programming there like the U of MN, St. Olaf College, Division of Indian Work, Children’s Defense Fund and many others, work to maintain program integrity based on cultural respect and academic rigor. South’s data points are remarkable for the demographic make up of an urban high school that is 43% title one eligible. A school wide culture of mentorship instills community standards and those are what make students like mine successful.

            My background is in pre-k and elementary education, occupational therapy and I’m presently a social work/public policy grad student while my husband’s fields are economics and psychology. We definitely demonstrated and supported the value of education in our family. We are no different than the families we encounter at South regardless of our backgrounds. Creating an education community doesn’t require a specific background, rather it needs members who authentically value each student and their lived reality. No ideology or education model can replace that in any formula for student success. And I can tell you professionally that data’s value is in the aggregate, with individual points being deceptively void of truth. Without in person, face to face assessments, the real gaps are perpetuated by over reliance on data points instead of working to create the kind of child-centered education that sustained us before Big Data was a thing. Education has not been improved through data- it simply allows different viewpoints to manipulate it for use in their arguments and agendas.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/03/2019 - 09:47 am.

          Anita, as highly educated persons you and your husband should know that anecdotes don’t overwhelm objective data, and your personal experience is not universal. It is a documented fact that MPLS is and has been losing massive number of student to open enrollment outside the city for decades now. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, this is the perception, and it can’t be denied.

        • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/03/2019 - 07:10 pm.

          Oh please.

          Highly selective colleges. Advanced degrees. Professional jobs.

          You’re were at near zero risk of failing at any school.

          The reason I have never been impressed with Harvard, Yale, etc, is that they take the cream of the crop, who are born with connections in society, and, surprise surprise, these children of the elite run the world.

          Spot me a million bucks and I’ll get to two before you get to one.

  5. Submitted by Brian Simon on 08/02/2019 - 01:18 pm.

    To a certain extent, measuring share vs raw population can change the story. Where I live, in the nokomis/minnehaha area, there has been significant turnover in recent years, as empty nesters leave the neighborhood & young families move in. Some of these homes haven’t been on the market in 50 years. Several years ago this demographic change caught the school district off-guard, such that kindergarten classrooms were overflowing. But, wait, you said the share of young families is lower?

    Oh yeah, there’s the other part of the equation… Over the same timeframe, Minneapolis’s population has been growing. Much of this population growth is from occupancy of new, higher density apartment buildings – which generally don’t appeal to families with children at home.

    So the school district is expanding classroom capacity to handle more kids and the share of families in the city is going down. Demographic math is weird…

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 08/02/2019 - 03:13 pm.

      1) the share of families is going down, but the population is still growing

      2) the young, single professionals living in condos and lofts will eventually get married and have kids.

      The math is not so weird.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/03/2019 - 09:49 am.

        Yeah, the question is when these young people have kids will they stay in MPLS? Historically there’s not a lot of support for that scenario.

  6. Submitted by lisa miller on 08/02/2019 - 06:02 pm.

    It is becoming having kids is for the very well to do or low income who can access free/low cost services; everyone else struggles with cost of housing, daycare, etc.. Add to it, Mpls. used to be much more aimed at liveability with affordable mid range housing.

  7. Submitted by Keith Nordeen on 08/03/2019 - 07:18 am.

    Ms Kaul did a very nice job writing this piece on the reduction of kids in Minneapolis. My wife and I have contributed to this issue because we live in Minneapolis and did not have children. A follow-up story should be: what demographic group is having children? In a related media story, the number of homeless children in Minneapolis is unconscionable. To me, it all boils down to resources. If couples do not have the financial resources to have children than they remain childless.

    • Submitted by Julie Barton on 08/05/2019 - 09:19 am.

      Even those with the financial resources are choosing to remain child free.

      • Submitted by Keith Nordeen on 08/05/2019 - 06:55 pm.

        Hey Julie, I curious why you think couples with financial resources are not having children?

      • Submitted by Keith Nordeen on 08/06/2019 - 11:46 am.

        Hey Julie, are you the author of Dog Medicine? If so, now I am really embarrassed that I did not proof my post before hitting the post comment button.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/06/2019 - 06:40 pm.

        Oh yes, “child free”. Like kids are some sort of disease.

        • Submitted by Keith Nordeen on 08/07/2019 - 03:04 pm.

          Hey Frank, do you believe saying child free is a poor description to use when a couple do not have children? I must say my wife and I are cautious when folks ask us about our status as parents. Just curious.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/03/2019 - 09:25 am.

    Interesting data but the author seems to dance around the elephants in the room. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, MPLS is perceived as a more dangerous place to live, and parents, specially parents of the last few decades, are obsessed with their kids safety. Even when I was kid my parents who both grew up in the city, believed the suburbs were a “safer” place to live. Parental hysteria has only increased since then.

    The second obvious issue is MPLS schools. Again, right or wrong fair or unfair MPLS schools don’t have the best reputation, which is why they lose so much to open enrollment. Obviously parents think about the schools system they live in.

    There’s also weird things that happen in the MPLS schools system. I know a young couple that recently moved here from the San Francisco area and they landed in Edina because MPLS wouldn’t guarantee their kids a slot in their system? How does THAT happen? You can’t expect to have kids in your city when your school system literally turns them away.

    • Submitted by Brian Simon on 08/09/2019 - 11:57 am.

      Minneapolis cannot guarantee spots because they did not anticipate the growth of young families in the system. There is a significant gap between perception and reality in the comments section. Amid claims that families flee minneapolis due to “bad” schools are observations that many schools cannot keep up with demand. The elementary school my son attends used to accept kids from outside the neighborhood. They can’t anymore because they don’t have capacity for kids that live in the neighborhood. I suspect these people who claim minneapolis schools are bad don’t actually live in minneapolis & have kids.

      Having said that, it is true that there are ‘bad’ schools in minneapolis. Typically these schools are in areas of concentrated poverty, which has a high correlation with “bad” schools nationwide. Meanwhile, other neighborhoods have good schools, typically in the same neighborhoods with higher levels of education achievement & income. Which is similar to the pattern in school districts like Edina.

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/03/2019 - 09:38 am.

    I think it’s kind of interesting to consider this article in the context of urban “planning” or rather the urban “chauvinism” I frequently complain about.

    When you look at the “planning” and theories beneath the “density/transit/walkable/tiny/amenity” aesthetic popular among today’s “urbanists”, you don’t see a lot of space for children. The urban environment these folks have in mind is pretty much tailored to young affluent professionals, who don’t have a lot of stuff, and don’t have kids.

    I’m asking because I don’t know, does the MPLS 2040 plan even discuss the kind of environment it creates for children?

  10. Submitted by Larry Sanderson on 08/03/2019 - 11:56 am.

    We ain’t got neighborhoods no more. After spending a little time in Berlin, where the streets seem packed with baby carriages and young parents, the streets are also packed with restaurants, stores, and bars. There’s public transportation that does not shut down at midnight. There’s bike lanes and sidewalks that are off the street. Granted, Europe’s tax laws seem to favor small businesses instead of chains. Their streets don’t look like they were designed for LA or Phoenix, like our recent attempts at traffic calming do. Their density is much higher than ours, with multi-story apartments with businesses on the first floor, but i makes a much more liveable city. I don’t think our zoning laws do that.

    • Submitted by Elisa Wright on 08/04/2019 - 02:46 pm.

      It is odd that German city neighborhoods are able to accommodate sidewalks & bicycle trails in addition to streets that have multiple busses running on time to the minute. One would think that since the cities are so much older, they would have even more difficulty accommodating traffic than we do.

      I think they just don’t drive as much. Here, bike lanes, as far as I can tell, are used by people who can afford some pretty nice bikes & use them for exercise & maybe to get to work while exercising & lessening their carbon footprint.

      In Germany, I noticed people would go to the grocery store & put food in the baskets of their function over speed bikes. They all seemed to have little bells to warn pedestrians they were on their way.

      Depending upon where you live in Minneapolis, you might also have to bike a long way in snowy, slippery, sub-zero temps to get to a grocery store.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/05/2019 - 08:47 am.

        Europeans don’t demand the space that American’s tend to expect in their homes. I know a photographer from Nigeria who finally got to New York after spending years bouncing around Europe and he called me just to ask why our houses are all so big?

        On the other hand “density” in Europe doesn’t quite look like the density American urbanists promote either, it’s not about tiny houses in someone else’s back yard, or moving into expensive one bedroom studios after retiring. We stayed with some friends in the Hague a few years ago and while their home was in the middle of the large European city, tucked into block of row houses, they still had a spare bedroom for us to sleep in, and that was a family of four.

        The main difference in the character of European and American cities flows out of the fact that Europe didn’t see the same suburban sprawl we experienced in the first place. For a variety of reason after WWII the European experience was very different. Their cities weren’t depopulated and converted into auto-centric havens. They kept, maintained, and expanded public transportation and transit, they didn’t tear it apart. Europeans didn’t embrace the love of the automobile the same way Bruce Springsteen did, so you see small grocery stores, bakeries, vegetable markets, bistros, and little green signs marking pharmacies all over the place (within walking distance not mention bikes). Here, people will drive miles to shop at a Trader Joe’s. Grocery stores in the European cities I saw were about the same size as our average Walgreens, but there are a lot of them.

        I don’t recall seeing a single parking ramp in London, Amsterdam, or Paris. I’m sure they have them, but here in the US they’re a prominent feature of our cities, and we actually tear down buildings that people would otherwise live and work in, or order to build parking ramps.

        And of course the cyclists are a wholenuther story. American cyclist for the past few decades are a completely different breed. Europeans don’t even ride the same kinds of bikes we tend to ride, and they don’t ride the way we ride, nor do they ride for the same reasons we ride. I saw one bicycle helmet in two weeks, and THAT was probably an American tourist riding the Dutch countryside. Bicycles have been integrated in European culture and transportation for over 100 years, cyclists in the US are literally crashing into the transportation structure.

        And of course, there are a lot of children living in European cities with their parents.

        I think American “urbanists” are trying to move us towards a European model of some kind, but their discourse and planning always strikes me a kind of surreal. They build models on top of theories on top of fantasies that just don’t seem connected to reality. Meanwhile, as Cat Stevens said: “Tell me, where do the children play?”

    • Submitted by Mark Iezek on 08/05/2019 - 09:30 am.

      I looked up the statistics for Berlin. Their percentage of households with children is 23%, the same as Minneapolis. That is significantly lower than the German average. The distribution of families with children in Germany between large cities and other areas is similar to that of the United States.

  11. Submitted by Carol Becker on 08/07/2019 - 07:57 am.

    You missed the huge and obvious reason – Minneapolis is not building housing for families with children. 70% of new housing is one bedroom or less and virtually all the rest of the unsubsidized housing is two bedrooms or less. Don’t build housing for families, don’’t get families. Simple.

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