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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
“Although still high in absolute terms, GDP and labor productivity growth rates are sluggish – both by US and international standards. The Chicago Tri-State metro-region’s contribution to national growth has slowed over the past decade and the region does not stand out as a top knowledge hub. Despite a dynamic and numerically large labor force, the region has experienced virtually no growth in the size of its prime working-age population and displays limited ability to attract and retain talent when compared to its US peers. More worrisome are the persistence of unemployment and the lack of sufficient job creation.” – OECD Territorial Review, The Chicago Tri-State Metropolitan Area read more »
Odd as it may seem for someone known as The Urbanophile, I actually grew up in the countryside. I spent most of my childhood on a country road about four miles outside the town of Laconia, Indiana, population 50. I always used to get confused when John Cougar sang about living in a small town, because I knew he was from Seymour, and with over 15,000 people that seemed a big town in my book. read more »