The All-Ages City

By 2030, 20% of the U.S. will be senior citizens, compared with 13% today. Cities will have to adapt, not just to a growing population of elderly, but to the baby boomers’ idea of what it means to be elderly. An Indiana architect has come up with a new idea for retirement living. Instead of bringing Main Street to retirement communities, why not bring retirement communities to Main Street? Instead of lamenting Indiana’s overabundance of seniors as mortal proof of the state’s brain drain, why not look at them as an opportunity to bring life back to the small towns and cities that many of them abandoned when they moved to the suburbs to raise their children? He is part of growing cohort of urbanists thinking about how communities can prepare for the coming “silver tsunami,” as they call the demographic shift. New York City, Atlanta and the state of Indiana are among the leaders in the nascent movement to age-proof cities, which is seen as an “opportunity to rethink American urban form.” The specifics of how to do this look different in every community.