Small Cities

The New Geography of Population Loss and Gain

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Dramatic shifts in population growth across the United States in the last decade should surprise no one. Some patterns are continuing trends of earlier decades, but other patterns show substantial change.  I show these changes in three ways, first a conventional choropleth map coloring counties by broad classes from high losses to moderate and high percent gain, second a map in which absolute gains and losses are depicted by proportional symbols, with colors showing the rate of change, and third, a look a counties that experienced either extreme loss and gain.   read more »

The Dispersionist Manifesto

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We live in an era of the heady drumbeat of urban triumphalism. In a world that is now, by some measures, predominately urban, observers like historian Peter Hall envision a “coming golden age” of great cities. It is time to look at such claims more closely, replacing celebratory urban legends with careful analysis. Although the percentage of people living in cities is certain to grow, much of this growth will be in smaller cities, suburbs and towns.  read more »

Washington State's Evolving Demography

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Population change in the state of Washington has relevance to the nation and to other states because it tells us something about market preferences of households versus the orientation of planners (e.g., “smart growth”). It tells us much about gentrification and America’s changing racial and ethnic diversity.  read more »

Pickles Plans a Pogrom

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Pogróm is a word with Yiddish origin, and is a Russian word meaning “to wreak havoc, to demolish violently, to destroy, or to devastate a town."

Eric Pickles, British Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, is planning to demolish, destroy, and devastate half of Dale Farm, on Oak Lane, Crays Hill, near Billericay.  read more »

Census 2010 Offers Portrait of America in Transition

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The Census Bureau just finished releasing all of the state redistricting file information from the 2010 Census, giving us a now complete portrait of population change for the entire country.  Population growth continued to be heavily concentrated in suburban metropolitan counties while many rural areas, particularly in the Great Plains, continue to shrink.  read more »

Why North Dakota Is Booming

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Living on the harsh, wind-swept northern Great Plains, North Dakotans lean towards the practical in economic development. Finding themselves sitting on prodigious pools of oil—estimated by the state's Department of Mineral Resources at least 4.3 billion barrels—they are out drilling like mad. And the state is booming.  read more »

Regional Efficiency: The Swiss Model?

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Given that no one likes Switzerland’s banks, coo-coo clocks, high prices, smugness, dull cities, cheesy foods, or yodeling, I realize that it is too early to speak politically about “the Swiss Model.” But it needs to be pointed out that while the European Union evaporates and Homeland America goes for broke, the world’s second oldest democracy (1291) has trade and budget surpluses, a multi-lingual population, a green network of trains and buses to every village, excellent public schools, and a federal-style government that is closer to Thomas Jefferson’s America than the bureaucrati  read more »

The Midwest: Coming Back?

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Oh my name it is nothing
My age it is less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest

–Bob Dylan, “With God on Our Side,” 1964

For nearly a half century since the Minnesota-raised Robert Zimmerman wrote those lines, the American Midwest has widely been seen as a “loser” region–a place from which talented people have fled for better opportunities. Those Midwesterners seeking greater, glitzier futures historically have headed to the great coastal cities of Miami, New York, San Diego or Seattle, leaving behind the flat expanses of the nation’s mid-section for the slower-witted, or at least less imaginative.  read more »

Agglomeration Vs. Isolation for Science Based Economic Development

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Earlier this month President Obama signed the reauthorization of the COMPETES Act, which provides federal funding for science initiatives aimed at enhancing economic competitiveness. In addition to shoring up agencies like the National Science Foundation, the bill called on the Department of Commerce to create a new program charged with supporting the development of research parks and regional innovation clusters. Unheard of before World War II, these entities today represent the cutting edge in what insiders call TBED: technology-based economic development.  read more »

GIS and Online Mapping: Stretching the Truth Scale

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When I began my land planning career in 1968, one of the first things I learned about was the use of the Rubber Scale. What is it? Rubber Scale was a term used by civil engineers and land surveyors to describe an inaccurate plan that ignored the physical limitations of the existing terrain. To say that the planner or architect had used a Rubber Scale to create a beautifully rendered plan with pastel colors and soft shadows cast from tree stamps was a negative comment, since these plans were pretty much worthless to the engineer and surveyor that had to make the plans conform to regulations.  read more »