Policy

Rethinking Brand Chicago

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So many Midwest places flail around looking for a brand image or identity. Not Chicago. In fact, the identity and stories of Chicago overflow the page. They are too numerous to be written in a mere blog posting.

Yet Chicago has in effect decided to jettison that powerful, historic brand identity in favor of a type of global city genericism. This, I believe, is a mistake.

One trend you can’t help but notice if you travel is the increasing homogenization of the urban culture and standard of urban development. Global markets demand standardized commodities that can be graded and traded. This includes cities. This forces cities increasingly into a standard model of what one expects.  read more »

The End of the Road for Eds and Meds

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In the last few decades, as suburbanization and deindustrialization devastated so many cities, they turned to two sectors that seemed not only immune to decline, but were actually growing: universities and hospitals. The so-called “eds and meds” sectors, often related through university affiliated hospitals, became a great stabilizer for many places.  read more »

Carmel, IN Named Best Small City in America to Live In But Can Others Follow?

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Money Magazine just named the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel as the top small city in America to live in. Fishers, another Indianapolis suburb, ranked #12.  read more »

Obama Fuel Economy Rules Trump Smart Growth

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just finalized its regulation requiring that new cars and light trucks (light vehicles) achieve average fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG) by 2025 (4.3 liters per 100 kilometers). This increase in the "CAFE" standard (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) is the second major step in the Obama Administration's program to improve light vehicle fuel efficiency. In 2010, EPA adopted regulations requiring 35.5 MPG average by 2016 (6.6 liters per 100 kilometers).  read more »

The Creative Destruction of Creative Class-ification

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Bits and pieces of ideal cities have been incorporated into real ones; traffic projects and housing schemes are habitually introduced by their sponsors as at least preliminary steps to paradise. The ideal city gives us the authority to castigate the real one; while the sore itch of real cities goads us into creating ideal ones. Jonathan Raban, from Soft City

There’s a spot in Cleveland that is becoming what many had hoped for: a bit vibrant, a bit hip, with breweries, local retail, and farm-to-table restaurants turning that hard rawness of a disinvested Rust Belt city strip into a thing less raw.  read more »

Travel Bans: Do No-Go Lists Fight Freedom?

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Had the 1789 constitutional amendments protected travel alongside the rights to freedom of the press, religion, and assembly, the United States might be a less xenophobic country. It might be less prone to treat arriving tourists as terror suspects, and more encouraging to those of its own citizens who want to explore the world’s darker corners. Instead, foreign travel in the age of terror feels more like an imperial favor than a constitutional right.  read more »

Subjects:

Regionalism: Spreading the Fiscal Irresponsibility

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Stanley Kurtz's new book, Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities describes political forces closely tied to President Obama who have pursued an agenda to "destroy" the suburbs for many years.  read more »

Form Follows Zoning

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When Louis Sullivan, purveyor of modern American high-rise architecture, said more than 100 years ago that ‘Form Follows Function’, he perhaps didn’t realize the extent to which building form would not be determined only by building type and the laws of physics, but by zoning laws, building safety codes, real estate developer balance sheets and even vocal neighborhood groups.  read more »

Why I Don’t Live In Indianapolis

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It’s no secret that Indianapolis has been a huge focus of my blog over the years. One of the biggest criticisms I get here, especially when I ding some other city, is that I’m nothing more than a mindless booster for Indy. While I like to think I’ve given the city a lot of tough love over the years, it’s definitely true that I’ve had many, many good things to say, and I have no problem saying that I’m a big fan of the city overall.

Why then, might one ask, don’t I actually live in Indianapolis?  read more »

The Uncertain Future of the California Bullet Train

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On July 18, at a site pregnant with symbolism — the future location of what HSR advocates hope will become San Francisco’s terminus of the state’s bullet train — California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to fund construction of the first section of the high-speed line. Earlier in the day, Brown had traveled for a similar ceremony to Los Angeles, the other "bookend" of the project.  read more »