Chicago

Why Are There So Many Murders in Chicago?

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After over 500 murders in Chicago in 2012, the Windy City’s violence epidemic continues – 2013 saw the deadliest January in over a decade – and continues to make national news.  The New York Times, for example, ran a recent piece noting how Chicago’s strict gun laws can’t stem the tide of violence.  read more »

The New Places Where America's Tech Future Is Taking Shape

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Technology is reshaping our economic geography, but there’s disagreement as to how. Much of the media and pundits like Richard Florida assert that the tech revolution is bound to be centralized in the dense, often “hip” places where  “smart” people cluster.  read more »

The Dispersion of Financial Sector Jobs

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When you think of financial services, one usually looks at iconic downtowns such as New York’s Wall Street, Montgomery Street San Francisco's or Chicago’s LaSalle Street. But since the great financial crisis of 2007-8 the banking business is on the move elsewhere. Over the last five years (2007 to 2012), even as the total number of financial jobs has declined modestly, they have been growing elsewhere.  read more »

Cities Flying Too Close to the Sun

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I was honored to speak at a conference in Milwaukee over the summer called Milwaukee’s Future in the Chicago Mega-City. Chicago and Milwaukee are about 90 miles apart on I-94. There’s an Amtrak link that makes the journey in about 90 minutes. The two cities have been sprawling such that there’s now more or less continuous development along the lakefront between the two cities. Milwaukee has been a challenged city economically and demographically.  read more »

Thoughts on Chicago’s Tech Scene

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I’ve said before that I don’t think Chicago is well positioned to become some type of dominant tech hub, but should only seek to get its “fair share” of tech. However, as the third largest city in America, Chicago’s fair share on tech is still pretty darn big. If you look at what’s been happening in the city the last couple of years, I think you’d have to have to say it’s something real. Built in Chicago lists 1145 companies in its inventory, and that’s definitely something.  read more »

Rethinking Brand Chicago

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So many Midwest places flail around looking for a brand image or identity. Not Chicago. In fact, the identity and stories of Chicago overflow the page. They are too numerous to be written in a mere blog posting.

Yet Chicago has in effect decided to jettison that powerful, historic brand identity in favor of a type of global city genericism. This, I believe, is a mistake.

One trend you can’t help but notice if you travel is the increasing homogenization of the urban culture and standard of urban development. Global markets demand standardized commodities that can be graded and traded. This includes cities. This forces cities increasingly into a standard model of what one expects.  read more »

State of Chicago: Explaining the 1990s Versus the 2000s

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In my article “The Second-Rate City?” I noted Chicago’s very strong economic and demographic performance in the 1990s and contrasted it with the very poor performance in the 2000s. Then I outlined several problems with Chicago I thought helped drive the struggles. A few people asked a very fair question, saying, “All the negative factors you cite about Chicago (e.g., clout, business climate) were equally as true in the 1990s as in the 2000s, so what really made the difference?” I want to try to respond to that today.  read more »

State of Chicago: The New Century Struggle

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This is the second installment in my “State of Chicago” series. Read part one here.

Last time I looked at Chicago’s 70s and early 80s horrible struggles followed by rebirth and robust out-performance during the 1990s. Today we turn our attention to the first decade of the 21st century. During the 2000s, Chicago experienced a bit of a two-track performance. Parts of the urban core continued to grow robustly, fueled by the real estate bubble and perhaps the greatest urban condo building boom in America.  read more »

State of Chicago: The Decline and Rise

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I’ve had it in my head for over a year now to do an in-depth exploration of Chicago, a project I’ve called “State of Chicago.” This is the first a series of pieces that expand on the themes in my recent article “The Second-Rate City?

First, I’d like to list three reasons why I wrote that piece:  read more »

The Collapse of Chicago Media

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When the satirical humor weekly The Onion announced it was moving its editorial staff from New York to Chicago it was considered quite a coup by boosters of the Windy City. Yet the hoopla surrounding revealed more about Chicago’s decline as a media center than any significant uptick. This includes news of a staff rebellion at the Onion in which writers attempted to scotch the move, with some ultimately deciding not to come. The strong celebration of a relatively small relocation in the grand scheme of things also shows a city looking hard for good media news where there has been so much bad recently.  read more »