Urban Issues

The Diminishing Returns of Large Cities: Population Growth Myths

One of the big myths of the twentieth century is that large American cities are necessary and inevitable. Yet in reality growth has been dispersing to suburbs and smaller cities for the last two decades. As the decline of Detroit, once the country’s fourth largest city, reveals in all too harsh terms, being bigger is not always better.  read more »

Applying the Urbanophile's Beliefs About Cities to Houston

Last month The Urbanophile posted his statement of beliefs about cities, and a lot of them resonated with me about Houston.  Here are some favorite excerpts along with my own thoughts.  read more »

Making Stuff Up at Atlantic Cities

Editor Sommer Mathis over at The Atlantic Cities has taken to making stuff up. In a recent post she reported on a dispute in the city of Seattle over minimum parking requirements relating to multi-unit buildings. She said:  read more »

Segregation and Quality of Life

CensusScope’s dissimilarity index measures the distributions of blacks and whites across a city to quantify the level of integration and segregation. The site discerned three major Midwestern cities in the top ten: Detroit, MI in second; Milwaukee, WI in third; and Chicago, IL in fifth. These cities are major hubs for their region, both socially and economically. But does segregation affect quality of life? And does it help or hinder job growth?  read more »

Supporting Small Business in NYC: The Harlem Metro Market Project

The Harlem Community Development Corporation has come up with a rather unique plan to combat high real estate prices in the district. It proposes establishing an open-air market under the Metro North tracks spanning one mile, or 22 city blocks. This new market would accommodate about 900 vendors, helping to increase the now low number of local entrepreneurs and independent retail stores in Harlem.  read more »

Dhaka's Dangerous Development

It has been a horrendous week in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh and the world's most dense urban area (104,000 population per square mile/40,000 per square kilometer). On Tuesday, a five story residential building collapsed, killing 23 people in the building and in other structures in the path of the collapse. Then, on Thursday evening, a fire started on the lower floors of an 8-story residential building in the old town section of Dhaka.  read more »

Near-New Seattle Residential High-Rise Faces Demolition

Seattle's tony Belltown condo neighborhood hardly needs more bad news. Like many other similar areas in central city cores, the supply of new high rise condominiums has far outstripped the demand. Over the past year, the downtown area condominium market has experienced a median price decline of 35%.  read more »

“First” vs. “Worst”

Taking on the Portland mystique is not easy – and likely I'll find out again with my most recent piece: Picture-perfect Portland?

But I'd also like to take a Midwest perspective that shows some surprising things. Let's compare Portland to a similarly sized and less acclaimed Midwest city, Indianapolis.  read more »

Municipal Budget Mess

A recent report from the National League of Cities projects a grim financial situation for many municipal governments during the next three years. According to the report the municipal sector "likely faces a combined, estimated shortfall of anywhere from $56 billion to $83 billion from 2010-2012." Such shortfalls will be "driven by declining tax revenues, ongoing service demands and cuts in state revenues".  read more »

Urban Youth Deserve Chance to Hear About Service Academies

Here’s a disturbing thought as Veterans Day approaches: Some teachers and administrators of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) refuse to allow visits to high school campuses by representatives of the service academies that train young officers.  read more »