So we now have the magic number. Yesterday the government released data from the 2010 census and — no shocker here — Cleveland’s population took a 17 percent hit, dropping some 80,000 individuals. The current figure is 396,815, a new 100-year low.
Today the stat remains news. The number was plastered all large font across the Plain Dealer’s front page and led the morning newscasts; everyone’s hoisting the figure around as another sign of city decline, the fifth or sixth broken seal before we go down in flames. We’ll leave it to others (many others, we’re guessing; columnists and news personalities love to toss on a conductor’s hat and ride this media train ad nauseam) to feel out the ramifications of the data. Instead, we’re trying to wrap our brainpans around the sheer magnitude in question. 390,000? What does that even look like? Is this Tulsa small we’re talking about here? What’s a comparable amount of people? Or even a comparable quantity?
We beamed our questions down to Scene’s research department, where a half dozen PhDs got on it. Below is a quick list of data points we’ve dug up to help you conceptualize the city’s new pop. Keep in mind we’re talking about Cleveland, City of, not the Cleveland area.