The San Francisco Bay is one of the most well-known hubs of the United States, serving host to a massive metro area that includes the cities of San Francisco and Oakland. Though most people from out of the state simply know the Bay Area as the place that has the Golden Gate Bridge and various sports teams, there’s a lot more to the region than just that.
Those that have lived in the Bay Area for a couple of decades know first-hand just how much it has changed over the years. Some changes have been very obvious, while others have been extremely subtle. Let’s take a look at some of the surprising ways that the Bay Area has changed over the past 30 years and what the outlook is like for the next 30.
The Population Swell
Back in 1960, the population of the entire Bay Area was only around 3.6 million people. Even at the time, the area was already feeling a little bit crowded, but it has only gotten more crowded over the years. By the time 1980 rolled along, the population had swelled to almost 5.2 million and then saw a continuous climb into the mid-1990s when the population reached 6.3 million people.
Things would level off a bit during the early 2000s, but the later part of the decade and the 2010s saw a massive spike in population. Now, there are nearly 8 million people living in the Bay Area, and that number figures to only keep climbing. As a result, traffic has gotten more backed up and housing is harder to come by, which leads to our next change in the Bay Area.
It’s no secret that housing prices have gone up drastically across the United States, but no region has seen prices go up quite as they have in the Bay Area. There’s only one other metro area that has more expensive housing, and that’s New York City. The Bay Area has an average rent of over $3,800 per month, which is nearly double that price that you would find in cities like Baltimore, Maryland, or Phoenix, Arizona.
There was a time when living in the Bay Area wasn’t so expensive, though. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that housing really started to skyrocket, and those prices have climbed faster than any other region despite the 1989 earthquake, the dot-com bubble burst, and the recession of the late 2000s.
Over the past 30 years, the San Francisco 49ers and San Francisco Giants have gotten shiny new stadiums and have had a lot of success in their new homes. As for Oakland, two of their teams have left the city while one seems to have one foot out the door. The NBA’s Warriors moved from Oracle Arena in Oakland to the Chase Center in San Francisco after experiencing a ton of success.
The Raiders couldn’t get funding for a new stadium in Oakland, so they left the Coliseum and headed for Las Vegas to play at the new Allegiant Stadium on the Strip. As for the Athletics, they are somewhat stuck at the Coliseum and may end up following the Raiders to Sin City. 30 years ago, Oakland had three sports teams with a lot of success, and they may soon have zero teams altogether.
No More Room
Those that grew up in the Bay Area during the 1970s or 1980s were able to spot a lot of open areas that included trees that extended for long stretches. Those days are gone, though, as Bay Area real estate has become so lucrative that almost all of it is taken up. Residents these days note that there’s just no open space, and that’s a product of the population boom.
Sure, there are still some parks around the Bay Area, but nothing like the wide-open orchards that used to be a staple of the Bay Area. A lot of tech companies moved into the region, and space was becoming a premium with these massive buildings opening up.
Crime Came and Went
There are people that say the Bay Area is more violent now than it has ever been. Those people are actually incredibly wrong. Crime was low during the early 1960s in the Bay Area, then peaked around 1980 in terms of property crime and in the early 1990s for violent crime.
Since then, the Bay Area has seen a massive drop in both property and violent crimes, with numbers lower now than they have been since the start of the 1960s. When you see the news, though, you might think that the Bay Area has become a warzone.