New 2010 census data for the highly suburbanized historic core municipalities of the major metropolitan areas of Tennessee and Kentucky indicates mixed results. The historic core municipality of Louisville (Louisville/Jefferson County) captured just under one half of the metropolitan area’s growth, yet grew more slowly than the historic core municipality of Nashville/Davidson County, which captured 20 percent of the metropolitan area’s growth. The historic core municipality of Memphis, which annexed substantial suburban areas, experienced a loss.
The majority of population growth was in the suburbs in all three metropolitan areas.
Nashville: The Nashville (Tennessee) metropolitan area grew 21 percent, from 1,312,000 in 2000 to 1,590,000 in 2010, according to the recent census count. The historical core municipality (city of Nashville) grew from 570,000 to 627,000, for a growth rate of 10 percent. The city of Nashville is combined with Davidson County and is of a largely suburban form, and includes rural areas. Between 1960 and 1970, the consolidation increased Nashville’s land area nearly 20 fold, from 29 square miles to 508 square miles, while the population less than tripled. Nashville/Davidson County covers 1.6 times the land area of the city of New York, which has more than 10 times the population. Nashville/Davidson County captured 20 percent of the metropolitan area growth, above the average thus far of less than 10 percent.
Growing at a rate of nearly 30 percent, the suburbs captured 80 percent of the metropolitan area growth. The suburbs account for nearly 40 percent of the metropolitan population. Williamson and Rutherford counties were the fastest growing, at approximately 45 percent. Combined, the two counties represented one-half of the metropolitan area growth.
Louisville: The Louisville (Kentucky-Indiana) metropolitan area grew 9 percent, from 1,162,000 in 2000 to 1,267,000 in 2010, according to the recent census count. The historical core municipality (the combined city of Louisville and Jefferson County) grew from 693,000 to 741,000, for a growth rate of 7 percent. The city of Louisville is combined with Jefferson County and is of a largely suburban form, and includes rural areas. Between 2000 and 2010, the consolidation increased Louisville’s land area five times, from 62 square miles to 385 square miles, while the population nearly tripled. Louisville/Jefferson County covers nearly three times the land area of the city of Philadelphia, which has a population twice as large. Louisville/Jefferson County captured 45 percent of the metropolitan area growth, well above the average thus far of less than 10 percent.
The suburbs grew at rate of 12 percent and captured 55 percent of the metropolitan area. Suburban Desoto County, Mississippi grew by 50 percent and accounted for one-half of the metropolitan area’s growth.
Memphis: Memphis (Tennessee-Mississippi-Arkansas) was alone among the major metropolitan areas with historic core municipalities in Kentucky and Tennessee that lost population between 2000 and 2010. The 2000 population for the present land area of the historical core municipality, the city of Memphis declined six percent, from 691,000 to 647,000. The city of Memphis has a principally post-World War II urban form, having expanded its land area more than 150 percent, and covers more than five times the land area of the larger city of San Francisco.
Overall, the Memphis metropolitan area grew from 1,205,000 in 2000 to 1,316,000 in 2010, a growth rate of 9 percent, slightly below the national average. The suburbs grew 21 percent and captured all of the growth.