Suburbs

A Million New Housing Units: The Limits of Good Intentions

Tensta_2009d.jpg

In May 2013, the district of Husby in suburban Stockholm, Sweden was shaken by “angry young men” engaging in destructive behavior for about 72 hours,1 including the burning of automobiles and other properties and attacks on police officers (over 30 officers were injured). The violence spread to the nearby districts of Rinkeby and Tensta as well as to other parts of Sweden.  read more »

Suburbia's Sacred Spaces

bigstock-Suburbs--2977023.jpg

From the earliest times, cities have revolved around three basic concepts – security, the marketplace and what I call "the sacred space." In contemporary America, everyone wants safe streets and a thriving economy, but what about the ethereal side, the places that makes us take note of a place and feel, in some way, a connection with its history?  read more »

Crime Down in Urban Cores and Suburbs

crime-scene.jpg

The latest data (2011) from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) indicates that violent crime continued to decline in both the suburbs and historical cores of major metropolitan areas (over 1,000,000 residents). Since 2001, the rates of decline have been similar, but contrary to media reports, the decline has been slightly greater in the suburbs than in the historical cores.  read more »

Kid-Friendly Neighborhoods: Takin' It To The Streets

Chalked sidewalk by kid.jpg

Planners and parents have been concerned about two widely reported, and most likely related, trends: the increasing percentage of overweight children, and the growing number of hours that kids spend looking at a screen, be it a television or a laptop. These two activities take up most of the free time kids have after school. Add on the tendency for kids to be driven or bussed to school, and the result is what has been called a “nature deficit” — a disconnect to natural surroundings.  read more »

America's Fastest-Growing Cities Since The Recession

bigstock-New-Orleans-Morning-969398.jpg

It was widely reported that the Great Recession and subsequent economic malaise changed the geography of America. Suburbs, particularly in the Sun Belt, were becoming the “new slums” as people flocked back to dense core cities.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: The Rhine-Ruhr (Essen-Düsseldorf)

651px-Wuppertaler_Schwebebahn_in_Elberfeld.jpg

Rhine-Ruhr, or Essen-Düsseldorf, is among the world's least recognized larger urban areas (Figure 1).  Germany does not designate urban areas according to the international standard, and for that reason the Rhine-Ruhr does not appear on the United Nations list of largest urban areas. Yet, in reality this contiguous urban area is Germany's largest urban area, a position as it has held since at least the end of World War II. The Rhine-Ruhr is the third largest urban area in Western Europe, trailing only Paris and London.  read more »

The Mad Drive to Subvert Democracy in Toronto

368px-Rob_Ford_Mayor.jpg

Let me stipulate that I think Toronto’s Rob Ford is a terrible mayor. In fact, while I might not go so far as Richard Florida, who labeled Ford “the worst mayor in the modern history of cities, an avatar for all that is small-bore and destructive of the urban fabric, and the most anti-urban mayor ever to preside over a big city,” I’m willing to say he’s probably in the running for the title.

The roots of Rob Ford lie in “amalgamation,” the forcible merging of the city of Toronto government with various of its suburbs by the Ontario provincial government. The idea was cost savings, but of course costs went up.  read more »

Falling In Love With Where You Are

waldie-home-lead.jpg

Where I live is where most Californians live: in a tract house on a block of more tract houses in a neighborhood hardly distinguishable from the next, and all of these houses extending as far as the street grid allows.

My exact place on the grid is at the southeast corner of Los Angeles County, between the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers. But my place could be almost anywhere in the suburbs of Los Angeles and Orange counties.  read more »

Suburbs and Sacred Space

bigstock-Tract-Homes-In-San-Clemente-Ca-4657336.jpg

Suburbs are often unfairly maligned as lacking the qualities that make cities great. But one place that criticism can be fair is in the area of sacred space. There most certainly is sacred space in the suburbs, but usually less of it than in the city both quantitatively and qualitatively.  In fact, the comparative lack of sacred space is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the suburb that makes it “sub” urban, that is, in a sense lesser than the city.

Lewis Mumford put it this way:  read more »

Retrofitting the Dream: Housing in the 21st Century, A New Report

retrofitting-the-dream-cover.jpg

This is the introduction to "Retrofitting the Dream: Housing in the 21st Century," a new report by Joel Kotkin. To read the entire report, download the .pdf attachment below.

In recent years a powerful current of academic, business, and political opinion has suggested the demise of the classic American dream of home ownership. The basis for this conclusion rests upon a series of demographic, economic and environmental assumptions that, it is widely suggested, make the single-family house and homeownership increasingly irrelevant for most Americans.  read more »