Did the Midwest Ever Have Strong Coastal Connections?


Pete Saunders recently described how, after being built in part with eastern money, West Coast outposts like San Francisco and Los Angeles never relinquished their East Coast connections. This created bi-coastal connectivity that continues to play dividends for both coast at the expense of relatively disconnected “flyover country.”  read more »

The Sound and the Fury In Chicago


The Second City syndrome is alive and well. An anti-Chicago essay masquerading as a book review in the New York Times provides the latest example of the truth of that.  Rachel Shteir, a former New Yorker now living in Chicago, notes the various ills in the Windy City that should come as a surprise to no one, least of all residents:  read more »

Chicago: Outer Suburban and Exurban Growth Leader


Greg Hinz at Crain's Chicago Business congratulates Chicago for its nation-leading population growth. Heinz also notes that the far suburbs also gained population strongly, but there had been losses in the areas between the two. He asks: "the question now is whether the area can prosper with a thriving core but sinking neighborhoods and inner-ring suburbs around it."  read more »

Transit Legacy Cities


Transit's greatest potential to attract drivers from cars is the work trip. But an analysis of US transit work trip destinations indicates that this applies in large part to   just a few destinations around the nation. This is much more obvious in looking at destinations than the more typical method of analysis, which looks at the residential locations of commuters.  read more »

Why Are There So Many Murders in Chicago?


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


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


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


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


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


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 »