The Evolving American Central Business District


After decades of serious economic decline, the inner cores in many of America’s largest metropolitan areas have experienced much improvement in recent years. This is indicated by the “City Sector Model,” (Image 9) which we developed to analyze the largest cities (metropolitan areas) using small functional areas, ZIP Code calculation areas (ZCTAs).  read more »

What the Blues Brothers and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Tell Us About Gentrification


The Blues Brothers and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off are two of the seminal films set in Chicago. Indeed, Chicago itself is a character in both films.

The films are radically different even though released only six years apart. There are many ways to slice this. Some have said that one is the South Side movie (The Blues Brothers) and the other the North Side movie (Ferris Bueller). Some see one as more urban, one more suburban.  read more »

Jerry Brown’s Housing Hypocrisy


Jerry Brown worrying about the California housing crisis is akin to the French policeman played by Claude Rains in “Casablanca” being “shocked, shocked” about gambling at the bar where he himself collects his winnings.

Brown has long been at the forefront on drafting and enforcing regulations that make building housing both difficult and very expensive. And now he has pushed new legislation, which seems certain to be passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, that makes it worse by imposing even more stringent regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, mandating a 40 percent cut from 1990 levels by 2030.  read more »

Geographies of Inequality


Joel Kotkin’s new report, “Geographies of Inequality,” is the latest in a series of ahead-of-the-curve, groundbreaking pieces published through Third Way’s NEXT initiative. NEXT is made up of in-depth, commissioned academic research papers that look at trends that will shape policy over the coming decades. In particular, we are aiming to unpack some of the prevailing assumptions that routinely define, and often constrain, Democratic and progressive economic and social policy debates.

Dowload the .pdf report or read it on the web here.  read more »

Why Most Cities Will Never Be All They Used to Be


Recently I published a piece on my Forbes site that discusses the disparate impact that demographic and social shifts had on larger, older U.S. cities over the second half of the 20th century.  Basically, the smaller American household size, generated by later marriages, rising divorce rates, lower fertility rates and rising life expectancy, among other things, has meant that unless cities were adding housing, they simply weren't growing.  read more »

Ireland Adopts Plan to Increase Housing Supply and Improve Housing Affordability


The government of Ireland has adopted a new policy (Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness) intended to improve the quality of life and the national economy by making housing more affordable.  read more »

A Different Approach to Redevelopment


As part of a thought experiment I examined one specific neighborhood in a typical small city in Georgia. I’m using this town not because it’s unique, but because it’s absolutely normative. I could do the same analysis on the town where my mom, sisters, and brother live in southern New Jersey and it would be nearly identical. This is Everytown, USA.  read more »

The Shorter Commutes in American Suburbs and Exurbs


An examination of American Community Survey (ACS) data in the major metropolitan areas of the United States shows that suburbs and exurbs have the shortest one-way work trip travel times for the largest number of people. The analysis covers metropolitan areas with more than 1,000,000 population in 2012, from the 2010-2014 ACS (2012 average data) using the City Sector Model.

The City Sector Model  read more »

Adding Space to Suburbia

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Space has value. Even the mere perception of space has value. As land becomes more scarce, space becomes more valuable, and has a direct impact on housing costs and a developer’s profit (or loss). Both developers and the New Urbanists who preach that dense cities are good places know this, even as they pressure town councils and planning commissions to authorize reduced lot sizes. Where they have succeeded, the resulting compressed lots sacrifice quality organic space — green space — to the point of oblivion.  read more »

Urban Future: The Revolt Against Central Planning

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In Milton Keynes, perhaps the most radical of Britain’s post-Second World War “New Towns,” the battle over Brexit and the culture war that it represents is raging hard. There, the consequences of EU immigration policy, of planning instituted by national authority, and of the grassroots yearning to preserve local character have clashed together to shape a platform that may set a precedent for whether central planners or local residents will determine the urban future.  read more »