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WHEN WILL WHEELING DIE?

Posted by ZaneMan on September 2, 2006

wheelingpop.jpg
From the early 1800s until 1900 Wheeling was one of the 100 largest cities in the US. Although the city’s population continued to grow (from 38,878 in 1900 to 61,659 in 1930) it grew slower than other large cities and never again was one of the 100 biggest. The graph above (from US Bureau of Census data) shows in blue the rise and fall of Wheeling’s population. Since 1930 the population has declined every decade, at an average rate of 12% since 1950. The smooth black curve is a mathematical fit to the actual population numbers and it shows that a parabola can describe our growth and decline. Extrapolating the actual population numbers into the future suggests that the decline will continue, reaching 20,000 in 2018, 10,000 in 2029, and zero population in 2038.

All projections are risky, especially those for the future, and a trend is not a certainty. Although we can hope for a turnaround, that will only occur if changes occur in the conditions that cause decline. Are they?

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