Urban Issues

The Evolving Urban Form: Paris


Probably no city inspires the romance of Paris, which has been a principal object of writers for centuries. The Paris they have written about is limited almost exclusively to the small geography of the ville de Paris, which has expanded from 1.7 square miles (4.3 square kilometers) in the 14th century to 40.5 square miles (105.0 square kilometers) in 1860, its latest annexation (Note). The ville de Paris is however, by no means all of Paris, representing less than four percent of the land in the built-up urban area, and little more than 0.5 percent of the metropolitan area.  read more »

California's Dense Suburbs and Urbanization


Many observers think California urban areas are more geographically expansive ("lower density" or to use the pejorative term, more "sprawling") then those elsewhere in the nation, especially the Northeast Corridor, which runs from the Washington DC metropolitan area through Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, Providence to Boston. This obsolete view is a leftover from the pre-automobile city of more than a century ago, when the largest American cities (metropolitan areas) had far higher urban densities, smaller suburban expenses, and no cars.  read more »

Will Density Make Housing Affordable?


California left-wingers who want to densify cities to make them affordable are getting some push-back from other left-wingers who think density will push low-income people out of neighborhoods.  read more »

Chicago Is the American Metropolitan Platypus


"What the hell is going on in Chicago?"

I must admit, when I first heard that statement from President Donald Trump, it angered me. The Donald has said a lot of cringe-worthy things over the years, but this struck a nerve.  read more »

New York’s Tech Sector Gobbling Up Real Estate


Google, which already owns a gigantic building in Manhattan, is buying Chelsea Market for $2.4 billion. The NYT article about this gives some insight into the very strong growth of the tech sector in NYC.  read more »

From Disruption to Dystopia: Silicon Valley Envisions the City of the Future


The tech oligarchs who already dominate our culture and commerce, manipulate our moods, and shape the behaviors of our children while accumulating capital at a rate unprecedented in at least a century want to fashion our urban future in a way that dramatically extends the reach of  read more »

Olympics Transportation: The L. A. Times Needn’t Worry


The Trump Infrastructure plan has finally been released. The critics are out in force, especially those with particular interest in rapid transit. The plan would reduce funding to the federal “new starts” program, which provides funding for new urban rail and busway systems. The Los Angeles Times editorial board expressed angst at this proposal. According to The Times, the "…public transit building boom in L.A.  read more »

Rising Car Access Sends LA’s Transit Ridership Falling


Transit ridership is down in a number of markets, but LA’s declines have attracted a lot of attention – and for good reason. LA has invested billions of dollars in rail transit but has failed to grow ridership, which is still below its 1985 levels. And ridership has actually been falling in recent years, even on the existing core rail lines. (New and expanded lines saw some growth).  read more »

Revisiting the "Big Theory" on American Urban Development


I like to think I've come a long way since the start of this blog nearly six years ago. There are some early things I've written that have become the focal point of my work today, things I tried to tackle but were better left alone, and things I initiated and warrant a deeper look. This post certainly fits in that third category.  read more »

In Defence of Sydney's Westconnex Motorway


The acrimonious battle over Australia’s largest motorway may be a case study in how class conflict plays out across the ‘post-industrial’ metropolis. On one side, inner-urban gurus of ‘liveability’ and ‘sustainability’ envisage a string of high-amenity havens for professionals in the weightless knowledge economy. On the other, a more dispersed population of workers in the material world of freight production, delivery and storage need efficient connections between a range of scattered industries and transportation hubs.  read more »