Geography

Five Ideas to Make America Greater

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Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was based on the notion that he could “Make America Great Again.” But beyond the rhetoric — sometimes lurching into demagoguery — the newly elected president comes to office, as one commentator suggests, “the least policy-savvy president in history.”  read more »

San Francisco Observations

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I made quite a few trips to San Francisco during the late 90s into the early 2000s, but hadn’t been back in a very long time – probably close to 15 years.

Recently I was there for a conference and a long weekend and got to spend some time exploring the city. I won’t claim a comprehensive review, but I did have a few takeaways to share.  read more »

Cat and Mouse in Frogtown

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A friend recently expressed an interest in how some cities are reforming their land use regulations. “I mean, there are places like LA that say they’ve thrown out the code books and are rewriting their zoning.” My short response was… No. The reality is that the city plays an expensive and byzantine game of cat and mouse with each individual neighborhood.  read more »

Were Urban Freeways a Good Idea?

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It’s almost a truism in urbanist circles that construction of urban freeways was a bad idea.

Indianapolis Monthly magazine takes a somewhat more charitable view in its retrospective on the 40th anniversary of the completion of the downtown “inner loop” freeway.  read more »

A Capital Improvement and Revitalization Idea for Detroit

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You may have heard that Detroit is in the midst of a modest but enduring revival in and around its downtown. Residents and businesses are returning to the city, filling long-vacant skyscrapers, prompting new commercial development and revitalizing adjacent old neighborhoods. As a former Detroiter I'm excited to see the turnaround. After so many false starts, Detroit's post-bankruptcy rebound seems very real.  read more »

What If Singapore and Las Vegas Had a Love Child?

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Compared to what? That’s the question I kept asking myself as I explored Dubai for the second time. Like many people I have serious concerns about the glistening new city-state. But in the end I’ve decided that it’s all really a matter of degree, not kind. I came to this conclusion unexpectedly and begrudgingly.  read more »

12 Ways to Map the Midwest

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What is the Midwest? There’s been a lot of debate about this question among folks passionate about such thing. But it defies easy definition. Here are eleven ways various people have taken a crack at drawing the map.

Traditional Maps

1. The Northwest Territory

Start with the original Northwest Territory, now sometimes referred to as the Great Lakes region. This is the historic core of what we now think of as the Midwest.  read more »

Subjects:

The Changing Geography Of Education, Income Growth And Poverty In America

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In this column, we often rate metropolitan areas for their performance over one year, five or at most 10. But measuring economic and social progress often requires a longer lens, spanning decades.

Nowhere is this clearer than in education, which many claim is the key to higher-wage economic growth. Yet there are two sets of numbers that need to be distinguished: those states with the highest percentage of educated workers and the states that have increased their numbers most rapidly.  read more »

Towns With a Past, Towns With a Future

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Over the last fifty or sixty years most towns have been dedicated to accommodated cars in order to cultivate business and permit people to live better more convenient lives. For new developments out in a former corn field this was effortless since everything was custom built with the automobile in mind. But older towns that had been built prior to mass motoring were at a distinct disadvantage.  read more »

The Rise of Urban Riverfronts

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I recently moved from Cincinnati to Providence, Rhode Island, although I still think of the Detroit area as my hometown. All of these cities are based on their access to water. Providence, despite its location at the mouth of an Atlantic bay, is still a river-town at heart. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has plans for a new and improved riverwalk, too. What can these cities learn from each other?  read more »