More on my June 18th blog. The Census Bureau's Demographic Trends in the 20th Century (page 33, Figure 1-15) shows that the share of Americans living in the suburbs grew in every decade. Central cities' share was 31.4% in 1970, 30% in 1980, 31.3% in 1990 and 30.3% in 2000. Over these years, the central cities were expanding by annexing and the census bureau was steadily enlarging the set of places called "central cities". One cannot look at this trend and spot the gas price hikes of the late 1970s and early 1980s (see page 374 of Blackman and Baumol in Henderson, 2008).
But as in the morning's WSJ ("With Gas Over $4, Cities Explore Whether It's Smart to Be Dense"), there is always a chorus predicting that this time people will move back to the central cities.