How have we seen cities grow over the last 120 years?

Here at Reonomy, we have access to a vast set of data that gives us insight into economic and developmental trends across the U.S.

So, we decided to look at how and where commercial development has been focused historically. Obviously, we know there will be a high concentration of properties in larger cities, but at what point did some of the biggest cities in the U.S. really come into their own?

National Development

In the map below, we look at development of commercial assets in the U.S. across all asset classes, and we can visualize 120 years of development.

Development in the North East

Let’s break this down a little further; the North East started developing commercial buildings earlier and at a higher velocity than any other area, with New York City and Boston at the center of that growth. But, we can also see the major growth in Philadelphia and DC, and the continual expansion of commercial buildings in suburban areas and the growth on the outskirts of these well-developed MSAs.


Development in the Midwest

When we look to the midwest, Chicago explodes in terms of development in the early 1900s, whereas we can see St. Louis really start to hit high building volume in the 1980’s. Even more interestingly, we can see the general growth, with an increasing velocity in the 2000s.


Development in the South

When we look to the south, more specifically around the large cities in Florida and Texas, we can see that Florida’s growth in Miami and Tampa really picked up in the 80s and 90s.


In Texas, we see a similar trend, with growth in Austin really taking off in the 2000s.


Development on the West Coast

In California, we can see that this growth and expansion, much like the North East, flourishes in a couple cities very early in the 1900s – Los Angeles being the most expansive. But we can also see the many other cities that pop up throughout the 1900s, and the growth of areas like San Jose starting in the 1980s and continuing to today.


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