Nearly 60 years ago, the District of Columbia hit a population high of 800,000 people. That's according to the 1950 Census -- but ever since then, the city has experienced decades of decline as families moved to suburbs where there was more growth and better schools. Meanwhile, the District suffered declining schools and higher crime rates.
But the latest federal Census data show a different image of the city, one with a once-again growing population.
In the year ending in the summer of 2009, the city gained nearly 10,000 new residents, the largest yearly gain since during World War II. And the last decade has shown a net gain of nearly 30,000 citizens.
"We have to create a city that is inviting of everyone, all types of residents," Mayor Adrian Fenty said on Thursday as he announced the new numbers. Fenty credited former mayor Anthony Williams with beginning the revival of the city's image. "And what we have done is really build on that," Fenty modestly told NBC4.
The higher population numbers provides a boost to the District as the 2010 Census count begins in April. City leaders say they will make a big push to get every citizen to complete the 10-minute survey. Any new population growth would qualify the District for more federal funds and programs, as well as show a healthy local economy.
"When you think about where you want to live, it's never just one thing," said D.C. planning director Harriet Tregoning. "It's a whole bunch of things. I hope this is a real tipping point for the city."