Changes in downtown Los Angeles and the Fifth Migration,1990-2010


Like many American cities, downtown Los Angeles, California experienced general decline in the late 20th century. That trend seems to have reversed itself during the early 21st century. Not only has new commercial development occurred in the old downtown area, but the residential population has grown noticeably. This research examined this transformation in the context of Robert Fishman’s Fifth Migration explanation of urban change, which describes a countermovement to the decentralization trends in American metropolitan areas in the 20th century. Fishman identifies a reurbanization movement among White, Black and immigrant population groups. In this paper population and housing data from the 1990 and 2000 Censuses were compared with private sector estimates for 2010 to track changes that occurred in the late 20th and early 21st century. Data is summarized and compared in tabular form, and individual data items are mapped for each time period examined to inform the analyses. Changes over time are identified and compared to predictions of the Fifth Migration. The Fifth Migration helps explain some but not all of the transformations occurring in Los Angeles during this period.

Keywords: Urban Geography, Los Angeles, Reurbanization, Fifth Migration.