Chicago

Chicago's Crime Wave Understood: Complex Problem, Simple Formula

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Chicago's violent crime problem can be understood through this formula:

It's a simplistic, reductionist, even crude, but it explains the roots of Chicago's crisis as well as anything.  read more »

Globalization's Winner-Take-All Economy

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“If you are a very talented person, you have a choice: You either go to New York or you go to Silicon Valley.”

This statement by Peter Thiel, the PayPal founder and venture capitalist, unsurprisingly caused a stir, given that he made it in Chicago. Simon Kuper had made a similar observation in the Financial Times when he described how young Dutch up-and-comers had their sights set on London, not Amsterdam. “Many ambitious Dutch people no longer want to join the Dutch elite,” Kuper wrote. “They want to join the global elite.”  read more »

Is Peter Thiel Right About Chicago?

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Peter Thiel recently made one of his trademark provocative statements by saying, “If you are a very talented person, you have a choice: You either go to New York or you go to Silicon Valley.”

The problem for Thiel was that he said this while speaking at an event in Chicago. No surprise, it didn’t go over well. An enquiring questioner wanted to know, “Who comes to Chicago if first-rate people go to New York or Silicon Valley?”  read more »

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

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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 »

UberPool & LyftLine: How the New Carpools Will Change Travel

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How will new carpool options like LyftLine and UberPool affect the marketplace of transit services? When mobility conversations turn to Lyft, Uber and other ridesourcing — or ridesharing — companies, the discussion typically centers on their effects on the taxicab business. Here in Chicago, Lyft and Uber recently survived a turbo-charged regulatory battle with cabbies that could have forced them to entirely withdraw from our city.  read more »

Chicago's Advantages

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When I wrote that Chicago is the duck-billed platypus of American cities, I noted that there were a lot things about Chicago that were unique – both good and bad – putting it in a class of its own and making it hard to compare Chicago with other cities.  read more »

Chicago Is the Duck-Billed Platypus of American Cities

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Census results last week show Chicago as the only one of the twenty largest cities in America to lose population. The freaking out over a tiny loss isn’t really warranted. The comparison to Houston is bogus. Etc, etc. Yet Chicago’s leaders have refused to grapple with the real and severe structural and cultural challenges that face the city. That’s something they need to do if they want it to succeed over the longer term.  read more »

Chicago Is Winning the Battle for the Executive Headquarters

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The corporate headquarters used to be the primary measure of a city’s economic clout. Saskia Sassen, while not ignoring headquarters, documented how in the age of globalization, the resurgence of the global city was driven by demand for financial and producer services, not more and bigger HQs.  read more »

The Fall of Rahm Emanuel

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Rahm Emanuel, a man of obvious talent, drive, and leadership capacity, should have been an ideal person to run a big city like Chicago. Unfortunately, because of his stubborn unwillingness to admit and compensate for his flaws, that was not to be.  After barely limping across the finish line in his re-election bid and tamping down the fallout from Moody’s downgrading the city’s debt to junk status, Emanuel has now been rocked by a truly huge scandal.  read more »

How Chicago’s 606 Trail Fell Short of Expectations

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When I was back in Chicago over Labor Day, I had to check out the “big three” new public space projects there: the Riverwalk, Maggie Daley Park, and the 606 Trail. The Riverwalk is a spectacular project I already wrote about. Maggie Daley Park, a new playground just across Columbus Dr. from Millennium Park’s Frank Gehry designed band shell, has been controversial and got mixed reviews. But I really liked it. More importantly, kids seem to love it.  read more »