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 »

Chicagoans Are Getting Older And Smarter


Chicagoans are getting older, as is the rest of the United States. The median age of Chicagoans has increased from 31.5 in 2000 to 34.4 in 2016. What is particularly noteworthy is that Chicago is losing school-age children while it is gaining young college graduates and seniors.  read more »

Chicago's Story Of Population Loss Is Becoming An Exclusive About Black Population Loss


Population estimates released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau show that Chicago’s population has declined for the third year in row.

According to the latest estimates, Chicago’s population fell by about 350 in 2014, by just under 5,000 in 2015 and by more than 8,600 in 2016. Among the nation’s 50 largest cities, Chicago is the only city to lose population each year since 2013 and for those population losses to worsen each time.  read more »

Can the Chicago White Sox Help Turn Around the South Side?


As a displaced Detroit Tigers fan who adopted the Chicago White Sox as my team, I often wonder how our city's other team, the Cubs, became an integral institution in the remaking of our city, while the White Sox have not. I published a piece at my Forbes site some time ago that detailed my thoughts on how the Cubs facilitated that transition.  read more »

The Superstar Gap


The biggest challenge facing many cities in transitioning to the knowledge economy is a shortage of “A” talent, especially true superstars.

All “talent” isn’t created equal. Crude measures such as the percentage of a region with college degrees, or even graduate degrees, don’t fully capture this. It is disproporationately the top performers, the “A” players and superstars that make things happen.  read more »

Welcome to South Chicago


If you've been reading my stuff here long enough, you probably know that cringe when I hear people talk about Chicago's South Side as a monolith, as code for black and poor.  The truth is, there are many facets to the South Side.  It is largely black, but not exclusively so; it is less wealthy than other parts of the city and region, but with pockets of wealth also.  It has its very troubled spots, but it has places of promise.  read more »

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


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


“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?


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


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 »