Chicago

Upzoning — Be Careful What You Wish For

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I have a difficult relationship with "upzoning", the reform of zoning ordinance codes that allows for a wider range of housing types and greater densities than typically seen in single-family-home dominant areas. It's clearly a positive strategy for cities with strong growth and demand for housing, and it clearly leads to the kind of urban development that I find most pleasing -- dense, walkable, a mix of uses, transit accessible. But cities that relax zoning standards without super-hot economies may be creating cities that end up being more unequal, not less.  read more »

The Luxury City is Going Bust

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In a year when two boosters of the “luxury city,” Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg, are vying to run the whole country, the very model that created their “success” is slowly unraveling. After roughly 20 years of big-city progress, measured by economic growth and demographic progress, the dense urban centers, including New York, are again teetering on the brink of decline.  read more »

The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago's South Side

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Chicago is known as one of America’s great cities for architecture. But other than the Illinois Institute of Technology campus, designed by Mies van der Rohe, very little of the architecture of the South Side is included in the public’s mind when thinking about it. Lee Bey, former architecture critic of the Chicago Sun-Times and a South Side residents, aims to change this with his book  read more »

The Vital Midwest

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John Austin at the Michigan Economic Center is a long time commentator on Midwest economic issues, going back to at least his 2006 Brookings Institute report “The Vital Center.”  read more »

Scapegoating Ride Hailing

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Transit ridership in Chicago is declining. The city wants to tax ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft and give some of the money to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).  read more »

On the State of Illinois

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Although there is a perception by some that the state of Illinois is in decline, the reality might not be quite so bad, at least at the moment. Estimates indicate that the population of Illinois has declined by about 1% since 2013. However, the population of the state is still larger than it was in 2000.  read more »

Of Niche Markets and Broad Markets: Commuting in the US

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The six transit legacy cities - mostly urban cores that grew largely before the advent of the automobile - increased their concentration of transit work trips to 57.9% of the national transit commuting, according to the 2018 American Community Survey. At the same time, working at home strengthened its position as the nation’s third leading mode of work access, with transit falling to fourth. The transit commuting market share dropped from 5.0% in 2017 to 4.9% in 2018.  read more »

Peer-to-Peer Carsharing: A Peek Under the Hood

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While the media tends to studiously report – and often sensationalize – the latest developments involving Airbnb, e-scooters, and ride-hailing (especially Lyft and Uber), another booming “sharing economy” sector has recently been gaining attention. Peer-to-peer carsharing enables individuals to make their privately-owned vehicles available to others for short periods of time at a fee of the owner’s choosing.  read more »

Portraits of Violence in Chicago

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Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here, returns with a new book called An American Summer that is an extremely powerful portrait of the impact of violence in Chicago. It’s hard to really review a book that is a collection of people’s stories, but I have one up over at City Journal. An American Summer is a very moving and disturbing work I highly recommend. Here is an excerpt from my review:  read more »

New York, Los Angeles and Chicago Metro Areas All Lose Population

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There was big news in the 2018 population estimates just released on metropolitan areas in the United States. For the first time all three of the largest metropolitan areas lost population. This unprecedented development includes New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. All of the other 12 top metropolitan areas in the nation increased their population, including Detroit, which has lost population in many years.  read more »