What Happens When There’s Nobody Left to Move to the City?


Following up on the Pew study that found many states will face declining work age populations in the future, I want to highlight a recent Atlantic article called “The Graying of Rural America.” It’s a profile of the small Oregon town of Fossil, which is slowly dying as the young people leave and a rump population of older people – median age 56 – begin to pass on.

Like the Pew study, this one has implications that weren’t fully traced out.

There’s a lot of urban triumphalism these days, as cities crow about Millennials wanting to live downtown and such.  read more »

Suburbs (Continue to) Dominate Jobs and Job Growth


Data released by the federal government last week provided additional evidence that the suburbs continue to dominate metropolitan area population growth and that the biggest cities are capturing less of the growth than they did at the beginning of the decade.  read more »

Are Compact Cities More Affordable?

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Housing affordability has been a tenacious and intractable urban problem for as long as stats have been kept. Several cities recently declared it a crisis. But what kind of problem is it? Opinions vary widely. An economic problem, or a social one? A land resource issue? Or, as traded wisdom would have it, the result of reliance on the wrong urban form? Proposed solutions vary accordingly. Now, new evidence rules out one potential source of unaffordable housing: clearly, it is not an urban form problem. The widely-believed theory that a city's lack of affordable housing can be fixed with increased compactness — when combined with public transit — is apparently wrong.  read more »

Paris: Are the Banlieues Still Burning?

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Press coverage of the recent European violence often draws a line from the Arab slums around Paris to the violence that has recently engulfed Brussels and Paris. According to this theory, Arab refugees from Morocco and Algeria, and, more recently, Syria, who have settled on the impoverished outskirts of Paris, are to blame for the terrorist attacks because France and Belgium have been reluctant to assimilate Arabs into their European cultures. And youth unemployment rates in the banlieues -- suburbs -- of Paris and Brussels are, indeed, more than fifty percent in some districts.  read more »


Empire State Building Toward Wins for Trump, Hillary


New Yorkers like to think of themselves as ahead of the curve but, this year, they seem to be embracing the most regressive politics. The overwhelming favorite in Tuesday’s primary among Republican candidates – with more than 50 percent support, according to RealClearPolitics – is Donald Trump, the brash New Yorker whose campaign vows to “make America great again.” On the Democratic side, New Yorkers appear to prefer Hillary Clinton, their former U.S. senator and quintessential avatar of the gentry liberals, rather than feeling “the Bern.”  read more »

Largest Cities in the World: 2016


Tokyo-Yokohama continues to be the largest city in the world, with nearly 38 million residents, according to the just released Demographia World Urban Areas (12th Annual Edition). Demographia World Urban Areas (Built-Up Urban Areas or Urban Agglomerations) provides annual estimates of the population, urban land area and urban population density of all identified built-up urban areas in the world. This year's edition includes 1,022 large urban areas (with 500,000 or more residents), with a total population of 2.12 billion, representing 53 percent of the world urban population.  read more »

Future of Suburbia: Report from Cambridge


In the United States, over 69 percent of all residents live in suburban areas. Across the globe many other developed countries are primarily suburban, while developing countries are increasingly suburbanizing. By 2050, an additional 2.7 billion people are anticipated to live in metropolitan regions around the world, and suburbs are a significant portion of this urban expansion.  read more »

The Sun Belt Is Rising Again, New Census Numbers Show


From 2009-11, Americans seemed to be clustering again in dense cities, to the great excitement urban boosters. The recently released 2015 Census population estimates confirm that was an anomaly. Americans have strongly returned to their decades long pattern of greater suburbanization and migration to lower-density, lower-cost metropolitan areas, largely in the South, Intermountain West and, most of all, in Texas.  read more »

Rise of the Mixed-Use Monoliths

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Density rules new development. From Florida to Texas to points west, city boosters herald a mixture of apartments and shops as an improvement on local 'density'. Dense development can be well designed, and can contribute to the form of a city, but the new density’s formulaic style is a crossbreed of strip shopping centers joined with 1980s apartment complexes.  read more »


Suburban Sustainablity


There’s a philosophical debate about what is “sustainable.” The two dominant camps tend to advocate on behalf of either the hyper efficient dense city or bucolic rural self sufficiency. Personally, I’m not a fan of either.  read more »