10 Downtowns Rebounding From COVID-19 — And 10 Still Struggling | Old North State Wealth News
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10 Downtowns Rebounding From COVID-19 — and 10 Still Struggling



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In recent years, downtowns in many of America’s biggest cities have struggled.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused offices in downtowns nationwide to empty out starting in 2020. Contrary to expectations, workers stayed at home long after the pandemic began to subside.

That turned many downtowns into virtual ghost towns.

But recently, some downtowns have started to rebound. An ongoing research project at the University of Toronto School of Cities uses smartphone activity to track which cities have seen the biggest recovery in foot traffic compared with one year prior.

The following are the American cities where downtowns have rebounded the most between 2023 and 2024 — and the places where downtowns continue to struggle.

1. Minneapolis

Minneapolis Minnesota
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Change in downtown visitors from 2023 to 2024: 45.3% increase

Downtown Minneapolis is home to three sports stadiums and many theaters and music venues.

Nicollet Avenue runs through the heart of downtown, with plenty of options for entertainment, dining and shopping.

2. Chicago

Chicago, Illinois
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Change in downtown visitors from 2023 to 2024: 35.5% increase

Chicago‘s downtown features the Loop, an iconic area where you can stroll through Millennium Park or take a river cruise.

The Art Institute of Chicago — ranked one of the world’s top museums by TripAdvisor — is also here. The museum is renowned for its collection of Impressionist art.

3. Louisville, Kentucky

Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock.com

Change in downtown visitors from 2023 to 2024: 32.5% increase

Downtown Louisville is famous for the historic buildings that line Main Street. It has a collection of Revivalist and Chicago School-style buildings that is second only to New York City’s SoHo neighborhood.

Boxing fans won’t want to miss the Muhammad Ali Center, while baseball fans can step up to the plate at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.

The rest of the top 10

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Here are more cities where downtowns are springing back to life, according to the University of Toronto research project:

  • Pittsburgh: Saw a 30.5% increase in downtown visitors from 2023 to 2024
  • Cincinnati: 28.3%
  • San Jose: 28.2%
  • Boston: 27.3%
  • Washington, D.C.: 26.3%
  • Los Angeles: 24.5%
  • San Diego: 21.4%

Cities still struggling

San Francisco, California
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In some places, downtowns are taking longer to recover. They include the following:

  • San Francisco: Saw a 21.6% decrease in downtown visitors from 2023 to 2024
  • San Antonio: 17.5% decrease
  • Fort Worth, Texas: 9.4% decrease
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado: 8.1% decrease
  • Las Vegas: 7.7% decrease
  • Tampa, Florida: 6.9% decrease
  • New Orleans: 6.1% decrease
  • Dallas: 4.6% decrease
  • Oklahoma City: 3.9% decrease
  • Wichita, Kansas: 2.9% decrease

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