Small Cities

Market Surge Confirms Preference for Homeowning

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Ever since the housing bubble burst in 2007, retro-urbanists, such as Richard Florida, have taken aim at homeownership itself, and its "long-privileged place" at the center of the U.S. economy. If anything, he suggested, the government would be better off encouraging "renting, not buying."  read more »

The Cities That Are Stealing Finance Jobs From Wall Street

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Over the past 60 years, financial services’ share of the economy has exploded from 2.5% to 8.5% of GDP. Even if you believe, as we do, that financialization is not a healthy trend, the sector boasts a high number of relatively well-paid jobs that most cities would welcome.

Yet our list of the fastest-growing finance economies is a surprising one that includes many “second-tier” cities that most would not associate with banking.  read more »

Addressing Housing Affordability Using Cooperatives

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Our country is six years into the Great Recession, the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. It’s been replete with reports of home foreclosures, collapsing commuter towns, and young people struggling to become home owners. The term “generation rent” is often used in the media to describe the struggles of aspiring young people.    read more »

Texas Suburbs Lead Population Growth

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The US Census Bureau has reported that eight of the fifteen 2011-2012 fastest-growing municipalities with at least 50,000 population were in Texas. Three of them were in the Austin metropolitan area. San Marcos, south of Austin, grew the fastest in the nation at 4.9 percent. Cedar Park, located in Austin's northern suburbs, ranked fourth in growth at 4.7 percent while Georgetown, also north of Austin grew 4.2 percent and ranked seventh.  read more »

Rust Belt: Can Micro-Suburbs Stay Independent?

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The Ohio suburb of East Cleveland abuts the core city to its west and north, and in terms of physical appearance the boundary between the two is indistinct. A century ago, the City of Cleveland unsuccessfully attempted to annex East Cleveland on two occasions. These days, Cleveland is unlikely to perceive its eastern neighbor as much of a catch. East Cleveland fell on hard times during the deindustrialization that took place throughout the Cuyahoga Valley: since 1970, it has lost more than half of its population. Nearly 40% of the 2010 population falls below the poverty level.  read more »

America’s Off-The-Radar Tech Hubs

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At the moment, the technology sector is the focus of a lot of attention — and with good reason. Tech industries have helped turn San Jose and Austin into major economies and brought other large metros, like Detroit, through tough spells. But which small, off-the-radar towns out there also deserve recognition as technology hubs?  read more »

Millennial Lifestyles Will Remake American Homes

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As Millennials, America’s largest generation, enter their thirties in ever greater numbers, their beliefs about how and where to raise a family will have a major impact on the nation’s housing market. This follows as their media and political preferences have helped shape how we entertain ourselves and who is the president of the United States.   A 2012 survey indicated that seventy percent of Millennials would prefer to own a home in the suburbs if they can “afford it and maintain their lifestyle.” Now a new survey of 1000 18-35 year olds conducted for Better Homes and Garden Real Estate (BHGRE) by Wakefield Research provides a much more detailed picture of the type of home Millennials believe best fits their needs and desires.    read more »

CSI Switzerland: Anatomy of an iPod Theft

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When my seventeen year old son was mugged this year, coming home on a late weekend tram, he lost his iPod along with his Beats headset. I felt sympathetic, but not shocked, that he had been shaken down, even though we live in a quiet village on the outskirts of Geneva.  read more »

Subjects:

What Killed Downtown?

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What Killed Downtown?: Norristown, Pennsylvania, from Main Street to the Malls
by Michael E. Tolle

For those of us who have grown dyspeptic on the over-indulged topic of the collapse of the American city center, Michael Tolle’s What Killed Downtown? Norristown, Pennsylvania, from Main Street to the Malls earns much of its anodyne appeal by straying from a commonly accepted convention in urban studies—that an analysis of the socioeconomic decline of a community should draw heavily upon socioeconomic variables. Isn’t there another way to get the point across? And more importantly, aren’t there other contributing factors?  read more »

Urban Housing: A Master Plan for the Few

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How we, as a nation, find bounty and beauty in the future depends upon how we react to two trends emerging from the recent difficult period in American urbanism. The first of these trends is the increasing lack of affordability in mainstream urban America, with the costs of maintaining a middle-class lifestyle at a level where distinct have/have-not lines are now drawn. The second is the increasing authoritarianism in mainstream urban America, where decisions about how our cities function are guided by a new array of authority figures that represent the common good.  read more »