Suburbs

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 »

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Empire State Building Toward Wins for Trump, Hillary

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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

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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

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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

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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 »

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Suburban Sustainablity

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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 »

Designing Suburbs: Beyond New Urbanism

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This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism called "America's Housing Crisis." The report contains several essays about the future of housing from various perspectives. Follow this link to download the full report (pdf).

It is not primarily the fault of land developers that the American suburbs are thought to be dysfunctional and mundane. The blame belongs largely to the influence of boiler-plate zoning regulations combined with design consultants who seek the most minimum criteria allowed by city regulations.  read more »

"To the Suburb!" Lessons from Minorities and the New Immigrants

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This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism called "America's Housing Crisis." The report contains several essays about the future of housing from various perspectives. Follow this link to download the full report (pdf).

When I was in college the suburbs were vilified. It was the mid-2000s, and here we were, enlightened coeds having one last hurrah in the flat Midwestern expanse before finding our place in the world, and there really was only one world to find: the city.  read more »