Are there just that many more people?

My perception is that many aspects of life are more crowded than in decades past. Do you perceive the same? Are there any solutions? Exceptions?

Traffic in the Chicago area was never great, but it seems to be worse than ever. And I hear similar complaints from other places. Is traffic really getting worse, or is it the kinda thing where people have always said, “It has NEVER been this bad before!”?

A lot of attractions - museums, concerts, multi-use paths, even (parking for) hikes in popular destinations, seem to require reservations well ahead of time. And when I go such places, they often seem more crowded than I remember. Airports and city streets have more of a feel of stockyards for managing herds than I recall.

Am I just becoming more averse to crowds I used to tolerate? Are more people aware of and able to enjoy activities that previously were reserved to a relative few? Is this an aspect of recent trends in marketing/PR/capitalism, directing more people to certain locations? Or are there just so many more people that everything is more crowded. Current US population is ~340 million, essentially double the 176 millon when I was born in 1960, and 100 million more than when I finished school in 1986. I guess it is unreasonable for me to assume that all of those extra people ought to just amuse themselves places other than where I care to.

All I can say is they are ‘developing’ the nice semi-rustic countryside here on a daily basis, throwing up car washes, car dealerships, strip malls, storage units, McMansions and apartment houses as fast as humanly possible. (I don’t know where all this population and their jobs are coming from - the city proper is one of the poorest in the country. But I digress.). It seems they’re doing this everywhere. Cutting down trees as if it was the Amazon rainforest. My relatives sold their house in North Carolina, they said the development is unreal, and the traffic an utter nightmare. It’s happening all over 'Murica, and I feel bad for the poor wildlife, driven out of their homes.

I find that for many attractions (except concert/events) that if you get there first thing in the morning you can just walk up and get a ticket. Major museums in Chicgo, New York, London and Paris (even Versailles) were no issue. Come in after 10:30 or later and they start charging fees to jump the line. Dont even bother going after noon time, that is when you need reservations.

Never understood why people would sleep late when they go on vacations to major attractions, like they must be the only ones who thought of going to Louvre that afternoon.

Baseball games and concerts, I’ve had some luck in going at the last minute and buying tickets off of someone who wasn’t a ticket broker scalping them. I don’t bother doing that anymore because even regular priced tickets are more than I would pay to see just about anyone.

When we were kids, our parents would take us to museums as soon as they opened. The image is permanently burnt into me of us leaving after a couple of hours as we sensed crowds rushing in.

I feel like the increasing population of the country is certainly a factor, but probably a bigger one is that more and more people have been moving to urban areas, making them much more dense.

I recently took a trip to my old home of Florida and I hadn’t been there in over a decade. The traffic in South Florida got so much worse. Even in areas where you didn’t tend to encounter any before.

Beyond there being more Americans, there are also more foreign visitors.

There’s only one Disney World in the whole world, conceived of by Walt himself, and there only ever can be the one. If visiting it becomes a life goal for everyone in China, it’s going to get real crowded for a good while.

There are Disney parks all over the world. Maybe not specifically Disney World, but there is a Disneyland in Shanghai, so why go all the way here instead?

Plus, Disney World has always been filled with overseas tourists from all countries. They still aren’t as bad as high school graduations and family reunions where they all wear identical shirts and just crowd everyone else. :laughing:

Part of this is specific to New York City & Chicago. In the late 70s, 80s and early 90s not only were these not popular tourist places, but people stayed away in droves.

I remember being able to get into the Bronx Zoo and the Museums with little wait. No up-sale special tickets to exclusive areas of the venues. Yankees games didn’t sell out except for special events and the Red Sox, so you could almost always get a ticket just before game time. If it was a Monday to Thursday game, you could usually get a good field level ticket. The RCA building was $2.00 and no wait to speak of, not it is 30 Rocks and I think over $30 and scheduled to the minute.

I was only in the Chicago area in 1985, but same story. Museums, the Sears Tower and White Sox games were super easy. Cubs games were a tougher ticket, but doable.

Crime was pretty bad in this time frame in the big cities. Also squeegy-men and other tourist turn-offs.

Just last night I saw a teaser for a TV show where John Mullaney was interviewing Jerry Seinfeld. JS said he enjoyed living in LA because (paraphrased) “it was in the 80s, and you could get around. Now you can’t get anywhere.”

And my niece recently returned from Manila, where she said she couldn’t discern ANY appreciable commonly shared traffic rules/practices, and basically cowered in the back seats with her eyes closed.

Plenty of sites on-line say congestion is worse than ever. Especially in urban areas. And the brief respite during covid might make today’s seem worse.

OTOH, we just returned from a trip driving thru Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota… Plenty of wide open spaces out there! :wink: But as soon as we got back into Wisconsin… :astonished:

Well, if things have actually been getting worse for a long time, they have always had a point. I think population growth and its ramifications (such as population density hot spots) qualify.

I get you. Whenever I hear this sort of thing, tho, I recall one time at my workplace. After I had been there at least 10-15 years, someone said something like, “Morale has NEVER been this bad!” And I realized folk had been saying exactly the same thing for the previous 10-15 years! And they’ve kept saying so for the 15+ years since. Made me wonder if things really WERE worse, or whether that was just something folk tended to say…

Yeah, I’m basically an L.A. native (not born specifically in L.A. but in a town a few miles south, and grew up in a town surrounded by the city of L.A.), and I can second the traffic issues. But I have the late 50s, 60s and 70s to compare to today. I hate going anywhere today. It takes so long, and traffic just crawls.

It’s bare roads down here in the boonies. Of course the roads are bad. And the Lil’wrekker drives them. Watch out for a zoomie little red car. And wave. It’ll be her.

Seriously I thought the actual population numbers were down.

(Census) population in Chicago peaked at 3.6 million 1950 in at 3.4 million. In 1980 it was 3 million. Today it is 2.7 million, close to where it was in 1990.

Population of city of Chicago, from Wikipedia:

1930 3,376,438 25.0%
1940 3,396,808 0.6%
1950 3,620,962 6.6%
1960 3,550,404 −1.9%
1970 3,366,957 −5.2%
1980 3,005,072 −10.7%
1990 2,783,726 −7.4%
2000 2,896,016 4.0%
2010 2,695,598 −6.9%
2020 2,746,388 1.9%

Median personal income in Chicago has declined since 1989.

So maybe it’s tourism.

The growth rate of the population of the U.S. has been slowly decreasing since 1958 (with a few ups and downs). It hasn’t reached no growth at all yet. One chart I’ve looked at says that 48 countries of the world have decreasing populations. A total of 111 countries have either decreasing populations or populations decreasing by less than the U.S. There are various predictions of when the world population will begin to drop, mostly somewhere between 2060 and 2100.

Chicago traffic isn’t from people who live in Chicago. It’s from people who live in Metro Chicago. This is true for every city. Wikipedia only goes back to 1950 for Metro Chicago, when the population was 5,495,364. In 2020 it was 9,618,502. 4,000,000 more! A 75% increase! And it’s worse than that. Far more of the population has cars today than in 1950. Households then averaged one car. Today that’s closer to two. So the number of cars moving through Metro Chicago has probably doubled. It’s not tourism.

Chicago is fairly low in car ownership percentages; newer cities without well-developed public transit systems have seen even greater increases in car ownership. America is built around individual car ownership. We demanded the right to travel down the block to a parking spot to pick up a loaf of bread. Multiplied by twenty times a day. We have met the enemy and he is us.

Endorse: metro Chicago’s population has grown almost every year since 1950 (to my surprise).

1950 5.0 million
1960 6.1
1970 7.1
1980 7.2
1990 7.4
2000 8.3
2010 8.6
2020 8.9

When I moved to the Chicago area in 1989, and started working in the Loop, downtown was pretty much a ghost town after 6pm, and on many weekends. That’s no longer the case, by far: part of it is that, as you note, tourism in Chicago is a lot more of a thing now. Part of it also is that, 30 years ago, fairly few people lived in the downtown area. But, over these past decades, a number of large apartment/condo buildings were built in and around the Loop, and there are now people who spend both their working and non-working lives downtown.

@Dinsdale : I feel the same way about Chicago now. Traffic is worse, for more of the day, than it used to be. FWIW, in 1990 (around the time I moved here), the Chicago MSA (metropolitan area) had a population of 8 million people; in the 2020 Census, it was 9.6 million (an increase of 20%). Now, a fair amount of that growth is sprawl in the collar counties, with what used to be farmland now full of housing developments. But, I have no doubt that it’s just made everything feel busier, more of the time.

For the last decade or so I’ve spent most of my Saturday mornings in what I believe are your stomping grounds (a suburb just west of Chicago). When I leave to take the Eisenhower (main E-W x-way) home around 11 a.m., just about every day eastbound trafic is JAMMED. I couldn’t imagine joining that throng! (Plus, in decent weather traffic within your town is absolutely horrendous just getting to the x-way!)

It’s just more people, at least here in Texas. The DFW area has averaged 480 new residents per day since 2020. The state’s population increased by 9 million between 2020 and 2022. Since we moved here in 1985, the metro area population has increased by around 3.8 million. I guess all those folks have to be somewhere, so everything seems crowded now.

Cite. Cite.

I read a lot of articles/threads about how much people hate Texas. I’m just hoping they’ll hate us enough to stop moving here.